Salem Contracting Ltd.

Diverse general construction and mechanical services in western Canada
Written by: 
Jeanee Dudley
Produced by: 
John Carioti

Salem Contracting Ltd. (Salem) has been serving industrial clients in and around British Columbia for more than 30 years. Monty Belsham, president of Salem, first started the business as a small general contracting firm. He worked for nearly a decade with a handful of loyal employees before joining forces with his brother, Rod Belsham, vice president of Salem.

“Monty had three or four employees when we decided to build the business together,” Rod explains. “It was in the early ‘90s when we sat down and decided. We incorporated a few years later.”

Over the years, the brothers have worked together to build up a strong and diversified business. Today, the company employs approximately 180 people, working in the office, fabrication shop and the field.

With headquarters in Prince George, British Columbia, Salem serves a broad industrial market. The crew performs a majority of work within the province, although the business has taken on projects in the Northwest Territory, Saskatchewan, Alberta and even Ontario. The company is also looking into the southern United States.

One of the greatest points of pride for Monty and Rod is the dedication of the Salem team. “Our ability to stay competitive comes through having an experienced team,” Rod details. “There are a lot of people who have worked with us for a long time and they are very loyal.”

Building relationships

The team’s experience and capabilities have contributed to a strong reputation for quality work over the years. Salem has established lasting relationships with several area mills and the companies that own them. Whether making facility upgrades or recovering from a crisis, these businesses call in the Salem team to keep plants up and running.

In 2012, two large mills in British Columbia sustained severe damage due to explosions and subsequent fires. “The first mill was Babine Forest Products in Burns Lake,” Rod recalls. “The second was Lakeland Mill in Prince George, owned by the Sinclar group. We work with them on a repeat basis.”

Rod details that scope of work for both projects was a full rebuild of each lumber mill. Salem’s crew members worked inside the non-operational facilities, rebuilding from the ground up.

“Our scope of work included structural steel, carpentry, fabrication and reinstallation of all the mechanical equipment,” he elaborates. “These were both challenging jobs and each took around a year and a half to complete. We worked through the winter and the summer. Temperatures ranged from negative 40 degrees Celsius to 35 degrees Celsius.”

While rebuilds are on the larger end of Salem’s contracts, the team is always taking on challenging work. The company frequently performs upgrades to fully operational mills where people continue to work to process and manufacture materials and goods.

Recent upgrade projects include updates for West Fraser in Chetwynd, British Columbia, 100 Mile House, Chetwynd Forest Products, L & M Lumber in Vanderhoof, British Columbia, as well as Interfor in Adams Lake, British Columbia.

Salem is well-known for a professional, organized and efficient staff, making the company a wise choice for businesses that need quick, high-quality upgrades that do not interrupt production.

Diversified work

The Salem team’s qualifications extend beyond mill projects. The company has taken on a slew of projects in the Northwest Territory, working on fabrication and installation of equipment for diamond mines in the region.

“We travel on a project-by-project basis,” Rod notes. “We will work for whoever needs us, which isn’t necessarily a large project or work for a repeat customer.”

The company is always looking to branch into new markets. Salem’s capabilities have broad applications and the team continues to enter new territory both in scope and geographic footprint. “We are growing rapidly,” Rod explains. “We are always looking ahead.”

While recent expansion has been fast, the management team at Salem ensures every growth effort is calculated. The company will not take on projects without the resources to deliver. With several growing markets in the region, however, sometimes those resources can be hard to come by.

“There has been more emphasis on trying to get qualified people, which is something that is not specific to our industry,” Rod explains. “Across the board people have that issue. There has been a huge boost in the north with mining and oil. It is a qualified worker’s market right now, because it is easier for them to find work, but not so easy for us to keep the workers we’d like to have. This is a competitive labor market.”

To counter that, Salem strives to offer employees a consistent living and opportunities for growth. “We really value our workers,” Rod says. “We try to make sure there is work for them all the time; that is our policy. Many companies don’t care about labor after the job is done. In our case, we are constantly trying to make sure there is work coming for the next portion.”

Salem’s philosophy ties in strongly with the company’s diverse market share, ensuring stability for employees and building a positive work environment. In return, the business has lower turnover and the employees who have been with Salem for a long time offer expertise unmatched by other businesses.

While the team has not specifically targeted any new regions or markets, growth remains steady. Diverse capabilities and dedicated labor ensure quality and efficiency and repeat customers know they can trust the business with challenging projects. With a range of general construction, mechanical services and in-house fabrication capabilities, Salem Contracting Ltd. continues to build relationships with industrial partners throughout Canada.

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