Nfld. & Labrador

Genoa Design CEO says 'outlook is nothing but optimistic'

A company with humble beginnings from Newfoundland and Labrador has been awarded a major contract designing ships for the Canadian government.

Mount Pearl-based company lands ship design contract, expects to hire 75 new employees

An employee of Genoa Design International uses 3D modeling software. (Todd O'Brien/CBC)

A company with humble beginnings from Newfoundland and Labrador has been awarded a major contract designing ships for the Canadian government.

Genoa Design International, based out of a non-descript building in a quiet area of Donovans Business Park in Mount Pearl, employs a core group of 25 people around North America, with 40 more working on projects in Vancouver. The company is expected to add another 20 people by the end of the year.

Under the federal government's National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, Genoa has been tasked with helping to build non-combatant ships, such as offshore fisheries and science vessels.

The company will be doing design work on the ships — worth millions of dollars each — before they are actually built in Vancouver.

Genoa Design International prides itself on being a progressive workplace. Young workers are seen here doing a group stretching exercise. (Todd O'Brien/CBC)

President and CEO Leonard Pecore said he can't believe how far the company has come since he started it in a small porch in his house back in 1995.

"This is probably one of the most fun times in our lives that we are going to have, because the company is exciting, the outlook is nothing but optimistic," he said. 
A 3D image used by Genoa Design for one of its projects. (Genoa Design International)

"As an entrepreneur, this is a really exciting time in your life when you've latched onto something. The idea has grown and it's really taking off."

All that work means the company will need extra hands, which is why they plan to add more people to their workforce. Most of the new hires will be engineering technologists and naval architecture grads — many recruited from Newfoundland's Marine Institute.

Oil downturn to help recruitment of young graduates

The downturn in the oil industry is actually helping them attract young talent, as less companies in the energy industry are hiring.

"About a year ago when we started hiring, we would advertise and we'd be lucky to get two or three resumés," said Gina Pecore, Genoa chief operating officer and co-founder.

"Now of course there's a nice pile that are coming in, so we're pretty relieved about that."

Genoa plans to hire another 75 people to keep up with its new contract with the federal government's National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. (Todd O'Brien/CBC)

A qualified junior designer with one to three years experience can expect to earn between $50,000 to $60,000 in their first year with Genoa. As well, the company prides itself on a progressive work environment with great benefits and training.

"It's a great place, great atmosphere, great people," said Devin Mahaney, a junior naval architect at the company.

"It's great work, great training actually — people help you out. It's really nice. Everyone's friendly."

Leonard Pecore hopes that if the contracts continue the way they've been doing, employees at Genoa will likely retire working on the national ship contract.

"The workload in front of us is significantly large," he said.

"Years and years of work are ahead of us on some really interesting and fun vessels to work on."

With files from Todd O'Brien

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