Constructive Conversations #11 – Aaron Jones of Merit Ontario’s Kraun Electric
Aaron Jones knows a thing or two about being dedicated to his trade — the President, CEO, and current owner of Kraun Electric (a proud member of Merit Ontario) has been with the company for almost two decades now and has never held another job.
He started his career in the trades at Kraun as a day labourer, and over time has dedicated himself to learning the ropes and climbing the ladder until he had the opportunity to step into his current leadership role. Some of that he attributes to his great mentor, the former Kraun Electric owner John Krause, and some of it he attributes to the great work culture at Kraun Electric.
He credits Krause for being the “driving force behind the first number of years at the business,” because he taught him about the electrical field as he slowly completed his apprenticeship over five years and also about the world of contracting. It was the contracting aspect that stood out to Aaron and once he got an office position he slowly started building his resume by attending business school part-time while working. He says every step of the way he was thinking, “how do I apply this to the business” and looking at how he could “try new things at the company.”
So why was he so focused on building the company instead of moving on? Aaron’s answer is simple: “the culture was awesome.” He describes the company as “forward-thinking” and the previous owner as one who never “shied away from new opportunities” which is clear given the company handles residential, commercial, industrial, and business electricity bids.
The work culture is one thing he still loves about the southern Ontario company today. Despite nearly doubling their workforce in the last decade, he claims they have “found that balance between being a bigger than average contractor without losing the tight-knit feel.” He added that “people feel at home here” and “they feel connected.”
However, Aaron admits that even though they have a great team, staffing is a challenge for them just as much it is across the trades. He describes it as a “shortage of trades” and “the number one challenge” because Kraun has built its name around being the best contractor on a worksite. Every worksite has subcontractors working simultaneously on it, and Kraun makes it their goal to be the best. However, to do that they need to have “the best people.” The result is that they are “a little bit picky and picky” which makes it hard because it’s “hard to find people, let alone the best people.”
While he doesn’t have a solution and admits it is a daily challenge, Aaron believes there is a bright future for the company given they continue to scale amidst the challenges of building teams. He believes that moving forward the industry will see “trends where construction is a popular choice” and he hopes that more women join the construction trades because “we’re missing out on a huge part of the population.”