Casey Lang had already logged a few hours on different “chunks of iron” when he signed up for the Heavy Metal Rocks program at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School, more for enjoyment and networking.
He didn’t realize the program, which he took in 2013, would give him a perspective and new ideas for the future of the family business.
“I was born in the seat of a machine and been operating one my whole life,” said Lang, who was raised in 100 Mile House and followed in his father’s footsteps, working in construction. “I learned a couple of tricks from the older trainers who were there, so that was nice.”
Usually offered once a year, the program gives students – after hours of in-classroom training – the chance to operate a wide range of heavy-duty machinery. This includes excavators, water trucks, forestry equipment and mining machinery which they all try using over the course of a weekend in a quarry near Williams Lake.
Lang said he got a couple of great references for local mines and mills through the program. The real value, though, was getting the chance to experience what a large busy professional workplace was like, as he’d been used to a smaller “mom-and-pop” type company.
“There were 30 of us running around with 20 chunks of iron moving so you had to move at a more professional level with more safety precautions. That definitely suited me up for the next step of the company,” Lang said.
Today, Lang is operations manager for Scotty’s Power Digging, where he’s in charge of a five-man crew, every piece of heavy machinery they use and overseeing every job they do from start to finish.
READ MORE: HAPHAZARD HISTORY: Peter Skene Ogden
Lang said the program is a great way for Peter Skene Ogden students to get a sense of the industry and decide if they’d like to pursue a career in it. They’ll come out smarter with job opportunities on the table, he added.
Now that he’s established in the industry, Lang said he leapt at the chance in 2019 to give back by lending equipment and personnel to the program for a 100 Mile House event at the 61 Mile Gravel Pit.
He even came out to offer some training himself coming full circle. Lang said there was a great learning curve for everyone involved with the first 100 Mile House version of Heavy Metal Rocks for both the students and the owner-operators.
Although the event has been cancelled for the past two years due to COVID-19, Lang said he plans to attend the next one in 2022 with new equipment, as their company has since grown.
“When I started Heavy Metal Rocks, as a teenager, we were just a small company and now that I’m older and part of it and running it, we are bigger. That’s what Heavy Metal Rocks showed me, is how a bigger company and operation runs both in terms of safety and efficiency,” Lang said.
“As it worked for me when I was younger and how great it set me up, I just felt like doing the same thing for other people.”