Ray Richard prides himself on providing hands-on training backed by more than 40 years of operating heavy equipment.
His Rayway Operator Training School in south Aldergrove is government registered with the province's Private Career Training Institutions Agency, and its courses are approved by the agency.
He completed the Provincial Instructor Diploma Program with an A-plus grade. And his school has seven newer full-size machines, from loader-backhoes to excavators, with heated and air conditioned cabs. And the Rayway courses are 90 per cent practical, teaching the skills needed while operating heavy equipment on the large acreage the school sits on.
However, it's his emphasis on his personal experience in the industry that he believes sets his school apart from all others.
Before starting the school three years ago, Richard worked in all aspects, from contracting to sub-contracting with loader backhoes and excavators. He knows all the pitfalls as well as what it takes to be successful and safe.
Over those three years he's had 154 graduates, with eight to ten students in each four- to six-week course.
"The province estimates we'll need 7,000 new operators in the next ten years in B.C.," says Richard.
"These are well-paid jobs, you can earn a six-figure salary. I won't sugarcoat it, I can't guarantee you employment after completing my courses.
"But my training is competency-based and job-oriented, and I give ongoing mentorship to my grads — and contractors do call me for referrals."
Richard also teaches students how to start their own businesses, as well as advises on equipment purchases for owner-operators.
It's not entirely a male-dominated industry either, as Richard notes that the female students he's taught all graduated with an 'A'.
The courses are not cheap, ranging from $8,370 for the four week loader backhoe course to $11,370 for the six-week excavator course. The courses run Mondays to Fridays for eight hours daily.
While the school does not provide funding, there are potential sponsorships from WorkSafe BC, EI, First Nations, Work BC and STEP programs.
"I founded and financed this school all by myself. I know what it takes to be successful in this business," says Richard.
"All my students write an evaluation at the end of the course and their feedback has been 100 per cent positive."
For information call Rayway at 604-546-7600 or visit their website at www.rayway.ca or check out their Facebook page.
PHOTO: Students at work at Rayway Heavy Equipment Training School in Aldergrove.