Since March, The RoadShow has been busy touring BC’s southern coast. In early May, the trailer made a special appearance when it stopped by the Site office in Cloverdale, giving the team behind the RoadShow brand a chance to experience it firsthand.

Site is a full-service marketing agency that specializes in the industrial sector. The team is responsible for branding and design of the slick RoadShow trailer and is helping promote the RoadShow during its two-year cross-province tour. The Site team had a great time taking turns testing the different simulators. Someone even joked about making a career switch to the civil construction sector—we must be doing something right.

BCRB The RoadShow Trailer Outside

Before he got to work training the team on the simulators, Ken Barwich sat down to give some background on his own career in heavy machinery and how he landed the role of RoadShow Tour Lead.

When Ken says he’s been driving big machines for most of his life, he’s not kidding. One of his first memories is driving his neighbour’s tractor as a toddler. (Don’t try this at home, kids.) Growing up on a farm in Chilliwack, Ken was surrounded by big machines. In this early memory, his neighbours put him right to work. “It was easier for them to put me on the tractor and point it in the right direction while they were baling hay so that there could be more men on the trailer loading the hay onto piles.”

Ken worked on his neighbour’s farm, operating all kinds of equipment until he was 18. His career evolved from there and since then, he’s built a career operating hydraulic and mobile cranes. Most recently, he spent three years as a tower crane operator. How Ken discovered his affinity for tower cranes is the first clue into what inspired him to be part of the RoadShow.

“I operated cranes for many years and had operated mobile cranes and self-erect tower cranes, but I didn’t know if I had what it took to work a tower crane. I was in Vegas for a construction show and got on a simulator, and I thought, ‘Oh, I can do this’.”

BCRB The RoadShow event at SitePartners, people using the simulators

For Ken, giving people the chance to discover a career they might not have considered is what the RoadShow is all about. “That’s kind of what I’m offering—the opportunity for somebody to try something that they maybe don’t know much about, but that they might have an interest in. It might spark something for them.”

In 2023, Ken was given the chance to switch careers and test his comfort zone once again when he was offered the chance to be part of the RoadShow. When he told his friends and family about the opportunity, they all shared the same sentiment. “Oh, that’s perfect for you. That’s exactly what you need to do.” So do it, he did.

It’s been over a month since the RoadShow officially started its journey at the Skills Canada BC event at TRADEX in Abbotsford, and Ken says the reception has been overwhelmingly positive. “Everybody is in amazement. It’s a really cool thing to pull up, and everybody’s excited about what you’ve got.” 

One recent stop the RoadShow made in Chilliwack especially stands out. 

“[The RoadShow] was at a school for an outreach program, one of our first engagements. We had arranged parking for me out front and when I pulled up, there were the RCMP, the military, the paramedics, and corrections. They had their squad cars and were getting set up for the career fair that was happening that day. We pulled up right out front, and nobody was even looking at the cop cars anymore. It was pretty neat.” 

“You can find a future in the trades…You can be an electrician, you can be a plumber, you can work in air conditioning, you can work in all different types of trades I’d just like to have the road builders added to this list, and by going out and doing what we’re doing, it’s shining a light on that.”

Ken, RoadShow Tour Lead

When Ken is asked what’s been most rewarding about his career in heavy machinery, he says it’s seeing his work out in the world and knowing he did something that benefited people. “I’ve had the fortune of working on lots of, what you would call, legacy projects. Projects that when completed, you can look back and it’s there for some time.” 

“I remember growing up and hearing stories of my grandfather, an immigrant to Canada, slinging concrete on the Vancouver Airport, on the Port Mann Bridge, and a few other major projects. They were just stories that went around the dinner table…I always remember that.”

Ken’s ‘Port Mann Bridge’ was the Canada Line, which he worked on 15 years ago. To this day, he can go down Cambie Street and say that 40 feet below, there’s a tunnel that he worked on. 

“I did everything from operating a boom truck to operating a tower crane and a mobile crane. I even had a little stint where I was driving the train up and down the tracks running the supply train,” he says. “It’s something that’s going to be there for a while, and you can look back; it’s rewarding. It’s not just getting something done and going home.”

In a short time, the RoadShow has attended more than a dozen events, giving more than 1,800 people the chance to directly engage with the RoadShow experience. Ken hopes that by giving people a realistic feel for operating the machines, some will be inspired to learn more about careers in road building and highway maintenance. 

“People have a sense of accomplishment when they get off equipment. If there was a training program using the simulators, I would be very confident to say that somebody can get their skills from zero to being a competent operator. I’ve always had the philosophy that the difference between a good operator and a bad operator is just seat time.”

BCRB The RoadShow Trailer at SitePartners

“The realistic feel of the simulators is what makes the experience so powerful. From the vibrations that kick in when you press the start button to the control panel and the immersive feeling of backing up the machinery. It’s something that takes people by surprise and that’s what they’re excited to tell their friends about.

Andrew Hansen, Site CEO

Site wanted to know what Ken was listening to on the road, and the answer is…everything. “Some days it’ll be Lionel Richie and other days it’ll be the Beastie Boys, and all points in between. Most times it’s podcasts, then if I don’t feel like learning, it’ll be something else. Sometimes it’ll just be the sound of the hum of the road.” 

Find out what Ken’s listening to on his RoadShow Spotify playlist and add your favorite driving songs that you think he should listen to. 

Visit our Route page to find out where the RoadShow is going next!