"Crushing Rock & Giving Back"
John Stewart is president at J.G. Stewart Construction Ltd., a leader in the crushing, washing and screening business. He spoke to the OSSGA (Ontario Stone Sand & Gravel Association) in 2013 about his career choice, corporate social responsibility, and his company’s involvement with an innovative sponsorship program.READ MORE
OSSGA: What did you know about aggregates growing up?
J. Stewart: My father started the family business in 1948 (RH Stewart Construction Ltd.). I worked every summer in the company business, basically from 1983 to 1989. I would work in various gravel pits away from home for the week and then go back on weekends. I learned to drive and maintain various types of machinery from front end loaders, hi hoe (excavators), crushers, screening plants and washing plants.
OSSGA: Did you know then that you would eventually choose a career in the industry?
J. Stewart: When I was 16 I never thought I would get in the family business! But by my late teens, I grew to enjoy it, and the people. I learned about the quality control side of the business by taking courses and then I enrolled at a university in a Bachelor of Commerce program. In 1990, J.G. Stewart Construction was formed, as it purchased some of my father’s equipment. I then started out at age 21 in this new business, with my father and some of his financial advisors as mentors to help me learn the business. The aggregate industry has been a great industry to be part of as most people are hard working, ‘salt of the earth’ types.
OSSGA: Your company is described as having a commitment “to safety, sustainable growth, environmental responsibility (and) corporate responsibility.” Can you elaborate on this?
J. Stewart: Each and every employee in our company is important and it is our desire for their safe well-being, no matter what they are doing at work.
OSSGA: J.G. Stewart also has a pledge to protect human health and to help the poor, hungry and lost. How does the company fulfill this mandate?
J. Stewart: Our company loves to crush rock but it is great to have a purpose that is more than that along the way. Our success in this industry has enabled us to help fulfill one of our company’s core values, which is to be “community minded” and, as mentioned, give to the “poor, hungry and lost.” One way we have fulfilled this mandate is that we have participated with the Kingsview Dominican Sponsorship Program, headed by a man named Lowell Brown who is a salesman from V.J. Pamensky Canada Inc.
OSSGA: How did this collaboration come about?
J. Stewart: In September 2009 Lowell and I met for the first time in the middle of a gravel pit, as he sells WEG electric motors for our crushing plants. He told me about a child sponsorship program that he and his wife had started in the Dominican Republic with the help of his church. After a few months and muchdiscussion, our company sponsored some children and made a plan for 2010 for some J.G. Stewart Construction employees to be part of a team that helped build a church in Esperanza, in the Dominican Republic. All the tools and building materials were shipped from Ontario in shipping containers. We made connections with people that will never be forgotten.
OSSGA: Why this particular program?
J. Stewart: Having now been on five mission trips with the Kingsview Program, I have seen first-hand that our financial contributions make an actual difference to the lives of people in the Dominican Republic. This program is unique as the sponsors can actually meet with their sponsor children and their family. The Kingsview program has four main parts to it: it has a sponsorship program (sponsoring children right until completion of university), a food and medication program for the poor, a building program, and a special projects program. There are many amazing stories of how this program has touched and changed the lives of many people in the Dominican Republic and right here in Canada. Some ofthe sponsored children that have graduated now have good jobs and have come back to the program to sponsor a child of their own, bringing it full circle, which is amazing. They can sustain themselves.
OSSGA: What’s next with the Kingsview Program?
J. Stewart: Our company’s next project is for some of our employees to go on another building trip in April to be part of a team building a medical clinic in the Dominican Republic. Any company can get involved in a program like this.