The Comox Valley’s first Living Wage Certified employer: Precision Tree Services LTD

James Flawith is a LIFT VIP (he’s investing in the future of our grassroots entrepreneur economy). He’s also an innovator. James isn’t comfortable sitting still when he sees opportunities for change. That has earned him nominations as one the Island’s top young entrepreneurs. It makes him a #WeAreYQQ star: someone from the Comox Valley / YQQ region who’s not content with the status quo, who wants to make shift happen. 

But the kind of shift this entrepreneur is interested in making isn’t just about money. Launching the world’s only line of safety clothing for children – Lil Worker Safety Gear – is born of James’ concern for the safety of his kids. Getting involved as a #WeAreYQQ Champion with LIFT Comox Valley is James’ opportunity to engage with other entrepreneurs passionate about growing business and growing a supportive community. Having Precision Tree Services Ltd named the Comox Valley’s first Living Wage Certified business is about James celebrating and retaining talent to grow his business, and to add stability to his community.

An opportunity for our community to raise the bar

“I believe that people should be paid a good wage for good work,” James says. “Our guys all work extremely hard for us. Their work is so dangerous, I want them to be thinking about the work they’re doing, not stressing about whether they’ll make the rent this month.”

James says that, “Paying a living wage is a no-brainer. It means employees are focused on what we need done at Precision Tree, not thinking about a second job or stressing about making ends meet at home.”

James heard about Living Wage Canada via Twitter. “I thought it was awesome. Then I looked into it and realized that we are already paying our crews a living wage.” He followed up by submitting the two page application. A few months later he received notification that Precision Tree Services is the first Living Wage Certified business in the Comox Valley.

James looks around the Comox Valley and sees a lot of other businesses that could be Living Wage Certified. “Lots of people think the same way I do. It’s just a matter of getting the word out and getting people signed on.”  

Attracting and retaining talent

Becoming certified is a simple process, James says. At a time when talent – skilled, trained, valuable employees and staff – are getting harder to find, he believes is something a business can use to differentiate themselves. “It’s positive advertising,” he says. “Hey, we really do care about our employees.”

Receiving Living Wage Certification is also about raising the bar in our community. “I saw it as an awesome way to create positive competition in our community. Imagine, employers one-upping each other to do more for their employees than the rest. Think about the improvement in our community’s quality of life if every employer in the Comox Valley was Living Wage Certified.”

Precision Tree does well, and James thinks his employees should also do well. “It’s something I feel very strongly about. It’s not a good situation when we’re just concerned about making money off the back of our employees.”

Falling dead trees. Cleaning up hydro lines after storms. “We don’t get a lot of chances to make mistakes. If someone makes a mistake, someone pays, with blood. I’m a big fan of finding the right people, and working with them.” Providing a living wage is part of how Precision Tree retains and supports the talent they’ve trained to do very dangerous work.

“We’re proud to be Living Wage Certified. I challenge every business in the Comox Valley to do the same. We have good people. They do good work. Let’s reward them.”  

Growing a talent economy on Vancouver Island

James’ focus on retaining and rewarding his crew fits with what believe at LIFT. We launched in 2015 because we think talent is the future of community economic development on Vancouver Island. While we still have an abundance of natural resources, it’s the human resources – the men and women who are choosing this place as their home – that will determine whether our communities thrive or not. That means we’re interested in talent in all sectors. Whether your business is forestry or food, the film industry or technology, it’s the people who are turning opportunity into success that matter. Let’s make this shift – to a talent driven economy – happen!

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by hanspetermeyer
@hanspetermeyer on Twitter and Instagram