CHESTERVILLE – Every lineman has a journey and the next chapter for the man behind Dundas Power Lines (DPL) is about to begin as the growing company celebrated four decades of partnership, success and hard work.
The landmark celebration was typical of Frank Heerkens as he transitions to an advisory role with the company he helped found and build just east of Chesterville. The afternoon included great food, drinks, music, games and even shuttle rides from the parking lot. No detail was overlooked as Heerkens and the DPL staff showed their gratitude to the countless partners, employees and journeyman linemen that had coloured the success of the 40-year-old company.
For Heerkens it was an emotional afternoon as he reminisced on the many years with the company and the decisions he made after a tornado ripped through Chesterville 47 years ago that led him to where he is today.
“Working two days straight and helping people get their life in order, I knew I wanted to be a journeyman power lineman. I have never looked back or regretted that decision. Six years later I was fortunate to start my own company.”
On April 30, 1979, DPL began as a three-person operation, including Heerkens and his brother Peter. The first job was installing a Bell pole at a farm near Delta and has grown into a company with more than 30 employees with work throughout North America, including more than 30 trips to the U.S. since 2012 to help with major storm clean-ups.
North Dundas Mayor Tony Fraser admitted that he didn’t know the man well; however, Heerkens’ importance, not only to his company, but to the community, became apparent when he witnessed one of his typical charitable acts, an $8,000 donation, at the Chesterville and District Rotary Club dinner held in his honour.
“To make that commitment of supporting the Rotary Club it gave me a better insight into how important and how dedicated he is to this community. For that we should all be truly thankful,” he said.
Heerkens will take on a reduced role with the company as he hands over the reins to his daughter Kandi, head of operations; son Jeremy, project manager; and Tim McKay, lead estimator.
“To Frank, nothing is impossible. His ability to adapt to situations and move forward is unmatched. It’s that mentality that has made DPL last 40 years,” said MacKay. “Definitely have big shoes to fill trying to replace one man.”
When Heerkens addressed those gathered, he was effusive in his praise and thanks to the countless friends, family, employees and journeyman linemen in attendance, but in typical fashion took the opportunity to lighten the mood with some of his trademark humour.
“I was able to say what I’ve always said would happen. It’s going to take three people to replace me,” he exclaimed.
While he was looking forward to his second career, he left those in attendance with little doubt as to what has made him and the company he nurtured for so long, the success it is today.
“So, this is my swan song. Forty years in business, up and down like a rollercoaster and it’s been one hell of a ride,” said Heerkens. “In the words of my late father, ‘life is nothing but a vacation and it’s a real short one. Enjoy every day of it.’ I have.”