When Hayes Parrott graduated from the University of New Brunswick in 2009, he had a degree in chemical engineering, but little idea where to go from there.
"I knew Laurie Conrad (president of Maritime Remediation) and that he did environmental work in which I was interested," recalls Parrott, 27, now technical sales manager of the company.
"He lived in Waverley and I grew up in (nearby) Lakeview. I had gone to Lockview High School with his children,"
Conrad continues. "I had nothing for him at the time except a labour position and I hired him at cheap wages. I knew he was an engineer, though, and soon, as the company kept growing, I saw the need for someone to represent us in sales, someone with technical knowledge in the environment."
The match was made and Parrott is now the man who generates business through getting the company's name in front of property operations managers who, at the time or some day in the future, will face an oil spill, asbestos cleanup, mould remediation or other environmental problem.
Parrott always leaned to engineering. His father was a geophysicist at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography and his brother was at engineering school at Dalhousie when he was at UNB. Parrott's strength in math and sciences made it easy to follow that course.
His sales job entails a lot of cold calling and networking, but that initiates relationships with people who might have problems in the future.
"Every day offers a unique problem and it's up to me, and our team, to come up with a solution," Parrott says. "I'm out of direct operations now, leaving that to our working supervisors. My time is more valuable now in sales and growing the business.
"You have to meet property managers and others who will know your name when they have the responsibility to find a crew to do a clean up," he says. "Generally people are receptive when we meet and I give them a card and chat a bit. They're appreciative of having a contact when a situation arises."
He's pleased he started near the bottom rung of the ladder because he understands the real world and how those in cleanup do their jobs. Because he's been in the field, it's helpful to the work crews.
While at university, Parrott studied oil and gas in petroleum engineering courses and even envisioned himself working in Western Canadian oil fields.
"I'm sure glad I'm not," he admits. "Nova Scotia is a good place to hang your hat."
He has goals. "I'd like to be in upper management by the time I'm 40."
Conrad is leaning to slowing down in his 10-year-old company with offices in Halifax and Yarmouth. He's working to develop a succession plan and sees Parrott as part of that.
"He certainly has the potential to be part of the upper management team," Conrad says. "His work is steadily improving."
Hayes enjoys his free time, too. An avid fly fisherman, he'll tackle salmon throughout the region. The biggest he's landed? A 13 lb. 27 inch fish on the Margaree River, caught on a fly he had tied the night before the trip.
He doesn't use flies to catch new clients, though, just knowledge and a gift for offering top service.
Joel Jacobson is a freelance journalist and a former columnist with The Chronicle Herald. To contact him with story ideas, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (902) 479-0442.