Jim Gillingham

A Conversation with Jim Gillingham on Green Construction

Jim Gillingham is a construction expert that has been in this industry for more than 95 percent of his peers. His earliest projects date 50 years ago which is a number that only a small fraction of all professionals in the world can ever put next to the length of their career. Having been active for so long, he has been around through some of the major technological developments when it comes to building. In the 1970s and 1980s, Jim Gillingham worked as a project manager for P.C.L. Construction. One of the reasons why he is very respected in this industry comes from the fact that he promotes environment-friendly construction that does not hinder biodiversity. Some of the most notable projects from his career include a research center in Hagersville, Teddy’s Restaurant Downtown in Edmonton, and a portion of the CN Tower. Presently, the plethora of his work revolves around steel buildings where he puts his knowledge of quality metals to good use.

Why did you decide to work in construction?

The beauty of witnessing something go from simple planning stages to marvelous creations has always intrigued me. I enjoy the effort it takes to make something as giant as an entire building. Have you ever seen a large hole dug out in the middle of nowhere? When I look at those, I do not think of ugly, unfitting piles of dirt. On the contrary, I think of all the ways that a new structure can be positioned, how it will be leveled, and dozens of other things. Having that ability to see the highest potential and not the current state of something is what makes me love this job.

What is the secret to such unprecedented longevity?

I really could not tell you. Not because I wish to keep the secret to myself, but because I honestly do not know. I never struggled with any extenuating health issues, and this job never pushed me past my limits. I guess the underlying truth to Jim Gillingham is that there is none.

When did you become an advocate for green construction and eco-friendly building?

Long before you could see it in the newspapers and all over the media. Nowadays it seems like a call for people to raise their popularity by saying that they protect the environment. The entire debate got very political, and I am proud to say that I had supported this cause long before it got intertwined with people who just use it as a catchy idea to boost their celebrity status.

Do you believe that people are doing enough to prevent the deterioration of the planet?

Absolutely not. I think that everyone, myself included, could be doing more. Undoubtedly, many individuals go above and beyond. Yet when you look at this issue from a societal perspective, there is clear inaction that all of us are equally responsible for.

What are some of your favorite projects?

That is a rather hard question to answer. When you spend as much time doing my job, you start forgetting every single thing that you have done. Right now, one of my favorite projects was fixing up the First Nations Housing. If someone could remind me of projects that I did 30-40 years ago, however, I may reconsider this answer.

Did you ever question the choices related to your career?

Interestingly enough, not at all. Although I am exposing myself to the risk of not sounding very humble, I always stuck with something that I was good at. Once I realized that I can manage construction well, I did not look further for other opportunities.

What do you advise young people who have not made the final decision to join this industry?

Take all the time you need to make that decision. If you want to take this route, you must be prepared for some work days that start before dawn and end after sunset. That causes many people to give up and look for other openings that are not so rigorously set up. Nonetheless, there is a lot to look forward to as well. This job comes with fantastic benefits, it pays rather well, gives you an opportunity to learn as much as you possibly can, and more.

What are some of the things on your agenda once this interview is completed?

Well, a couple of e-mails and some phone calls. Most of the work I presently do is management-based. It enables me to work remotely as I am seldom tied to an office space or a client’s site. However, I enjoy overseeing my workers, and I use every opportunity to spend some time with them. I also have to do some budgeting and meet with the people who will help me with the ins and outs of the upcoming tax implications of my company.

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