Interview with Mr. André Harkins, co-founder of Harkins Round Wood & Carpentry
This year, Harkins is celebrating 20 years in business. Launched by a father-son duo in 2000, Harkins has become a leader in the design and construction of log homes over the course of the last two decades. Despite its success and ever-expanding team, Harkins has never forgotten its roots and the essence of what makes it so successful: family values. We sat down with Mr. André Harkins, who co-founded the company with his son, David, and his wife, Christine.
Q : Tell me about how you started your business. Where did the idea come from?
A : I’ve always been a versatile worker and I’ve touched all kinds of different construction fields. There was a time where I worked for a company who gave me round wood projects and I stayed in this field for 15 years, climbing up the ladder over time. David, who was passionate about mechanics, joined the team to repair equipment and eventually became part of the log home construction team. Eventually, this company had to close its doors after a number of years, but in the spring of 2000, David said to me “Hey dad! Why don’t we start our own round wood company?” That made my heart soar. It’s thrilling for a father to begin an adventure with his son, so I didn’t hesitate for even one second!
Q : Tell us about the company’s beginnings.
A : We had two saws and our tool kits. It wasn’t much, but my son and I made a great team. I was good with my hands and knew a lot of people in the Mont-Tremblant region. David was an absolutely extraordinary mechanic who was very comfortable with the clients. He had the entrepreneurial spirit. Our first contract was no small task: we built the structure of the dining room at the Ranch Mont-Tremblant. It got our name out there, and from that point on, our numbers doubled or even tripled year after year. Ten years later, David and I left the field work to focus on management. My daughter, Amélie, has also joined us on this adventure and we haven’t stopped growing ever since.
Q : How has the round wood market evolved over time?
A : The market isn’t linear, it’s sawtoothed. There are high points and low points. But, Scandinavian style log homes are coming back into style; people are coming back to the natural look.
Thankfully, Harkins has diversified its offerings over time. We’ve added traditional carpentry (Timber Frame) to our list of specialities, which has brought some stability for us.
Q : What has been the biggest challenge over the last 20 years?
A : The biggest challenge for me has been surrounding my son with the right people and helping to protect him. He’s running the show, and having experienced professional burnout myself, I want him to avoid that at all costs. The wood, the tools, the projects, that’s all material but we can never forget that there are people behind this, so my biggest priority is protecting “my people.”
Q : What are you most proud of?
A : What I’m most proud of is getting to experience this adventure with my family. As the team has grown, I’ve always wanted to be a father figure to everyone. Each employee here is part of the Harkins family and it’s important to me that we take care of our people. I feel like everyone’s dad.
And now as I watch my grandchildren grow up and play with wood, I feel extra proud, and I tell myself that the future of Harkins is in good hands!