A St. Thomas-based company is the first in Elgin County to use a new grant program to fuel its growth
Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Joe Preston and MPP Jeff Yurek were at Dowler-Karn on Wednesday (Dec. 17) to celebrate a $4,250 Canada-Ontario Job Grant that the propane distributor with a dozen locations across the region used to pay for human resources training for a number of managers.
It comes at a time of rapid growth for the company. Dan Kelly, the chief financial officer, said in the past four years they’ve grown from about 90 employees to more than 130 with several positions to be filled early in the New Year including a driver, an accountant and a compliance officer.
The company is anything but new, with a history decades old rooted in the private museum housed at the St. Thomas base. It’s open to the public every Wednesday and admission is free.
The grant is new and different in the way it operates. It allows employers to select the candidate they want to hire and submit the training they need to fill the available position for partial support from the federal and provincial governments.
It’s described as a key source of funding for new, employer-driven, training initiatives and “represents an opportunity for the province to engage more effectively with employers to support Ontarians in obtaining the skills required to fill and succeed in available jobs,” according to Michelle Huigenbos of Employment Services Elgin.
Kelly said the grant the cost of new hires more reasonable.
“The cost of new hires is really significant for an employer,” he said. “This way if we find someone to fill a position, we can train them to fit the needs of the business. We’ll continue to use the program where appropriate.”
Dowler-Karn’s territory is roughly everything west of the Greater Toronto Area, but a lot of their growth has been in the wholesale and long run market, selling to other distributors as far away as Wawa and North Bay as well as eastern Ontario.
“Agriculture has always been the backbone of our business, it helped us get through the losses in the industrial sector,” Kelly said. “We’ve been very fortunate since 2008, we came out relatively unscathed and the growth has been significant.”