A Woodstock company that specializes in restoring electrical power after natural disasters says a growing demand for its services has fuelled a fourfold increase in its workforce.
K-Line Construction Ltd. now has the capacity to dispatch as many as 40 vehicles and 100 power line technicians and support staff.
"We pride ourselves on being able to mobilize our crews quickly," said Mark Keenan, senior manager of power operations.
Keenan said he took 21 crews down to Florida last month ahead of Hurricane Irma.
They left the province Sept. 6 and worked 16-hour days around the St. Petersburg area, returning to New Brunswick three weeks later.
K-Line Construction was founded in 1981 but it was the ice storm of 1998 that sparked the idea of pursuing more work outside the province.
Beyond the Maritimes
Now the business gets as many as 15 calls a year and its reach extends beyond the Maritimes and New England, down to the southern United States.
"We have contracts signed with a number of utilities to provide support in times of emergency or need," Keenan said.
Staff also keep a close eye on storm activity, in search of opportunities.
"We track these weather events. … We listen to the meteorologists. We watch what's happening with the storms."
Retired linemen won't quit
Keenan said he employs seasoned linemen, many of them retired but not ready to leave the job altogether.
"Linemen are a certain group of their own. You have this passion for the people, for the customers, to get the power restored for them," he said.
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"Naturally, the adrenalin flows.
"We enjoy meeting people and in response, they appreciate the linesmen as well."
Praise from Florida
The company maintains a presence on social media, where some if its U.S. fans have written rave reviews.
Nancy Massé, 46, counts herself as one grateful customer.
Five days after losing power in Dunedin, Fla., Massé said, she was in her kitchen throwing out spoiled food when she saw some linemen going through her yard.
Within hours, power was restored.
Massé said she was "blown away" when she learned the crew came from New Brunswick.
Already a self-identified enthuaiast for things from north of the border, including the Tragically Hip, Massé thought it was serendipitous.
"I'm like, 'Of course it's someone from Canada coming to save me.'"