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Annie Tooley

Brandon Benedetti

Heavy equipment operator (excavation specialist) at michels corporation canada

My father was always heavy into construction. He owned his own gravel truck and trailer most of my life, so I was exposed to his line of work when I was growing up.

I would often go trucking with him in the summer, which I loved and continued to love up until high school when friends and activities took over.

By the time I graduated, I had locked in a spot with the small landscaping company where my brother worked, and I had a really good relationship with the owner.

From there, I got my hands in the dirt and climbed my way up the ladder fairly quickly.

By the time I was 21, I was running a small crew of guys with another small landscaping company, building retaining walls and installing irrigation and drain lines with small-scale equipment.

I realized I had enough skill and experience with equipment and leadership, so I decided I could take what I had learned and make my way up the construction ladder to civil excavation and earthworks.

At this point, I knew I wanted to be a heavy equipment operator, and I knew the only way to get myself into bigger equipment was to work for a bigger company.

Fast forward a year and a half, and I was running an excavator full-time. I had my hands in several pieces of equipment by the age of 24.

I'm now 26 and work full-time as a hotline specialist excavator operator. I’m currently working on the Trans Mountain Pipeline in British Columbia, Canada, for Michels Canada.

If there’s any advice I could give to the younger generation, it's that you don’t have to go to college to have a career or be successful.

There are so many opportunities and so much room for growth in trades and construction that school doesn’t teach you about.

I LOVE what I do. I love waking up and going to work every day.

Sometimes things don’t go my way, but it’s the same for any career. At the end of the day, if you bust your ass, you will be recognized for it.

You make progress, and when the job is done, you get to say you were a part of it.

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