Trent (Mike) Hupman, owner of HRS, has always wanted to know “how machines work,” and how to fix them. The establishment of HRS Industrial Contracting in January 2013, represents the culmination of his life-long fascination with all things mechanical, and his sheer determination to succeed. Trent manages this family-run business from its base in Liverpool, Nova Scotia.
Gaining Experience and Certification
Trent began his mechanical career in 1979 as an automotive apprentice at Mick’s Auto in Liverpool. In 1986, Trent began working at (then) Bowater Mersey, a pulp and paper mill, located in Brooklyn (just outside of Liverpool, Nova Scotia). It was at Bowater that he learned the trade of industrial mechanics. The mill, with its specialized, large-scale equipment that processed raw wood into finished paper products, provided ample opportunities to learn all aspects of industrial equipment installation, troubleshooting, maintenance and repair.
During these 8 years at Bowater, he earned his industrial mechanic’s (millwright) certification, and was promoted to maintenance planner. In that role, Trent planned/oversaw the paper mill equipment maintenance. The mechanical department consisted of 100+ tradesmen, with seven trades foreman.
Stepping into Entrepreneurship
In 1994, he purchased and ran a small radiator shop in Hebbville, Nova Scotia. There, he built a reputation for great customer service and satisfaction. He grew the business into a full-service automotive repair facility. Eventually the business became a Napa Autopro outlet.
In 2010, the economy in Nova Scotia (and elsewhere) took a downward turn and Trent found it necessary to look for formal employment. And once again, he found a job at Bowater Mersey Mill, which by then, had been bought by Resolute Forest Products. Back at the mill, Trent was, as before, performing mill maintenance.
Global demand for paper had been in steady decline for years, leading many to be concerned about the future of the Resolute Forest Products operation. At the end of 2011, Trent left the employ of the mill, amid rumours of impending closure.
In early 2012, Trent drew upon his millwright and managerial skills to open an industrial maintenance business, under the name of Hebbville Radiator Contracting. This business employed a handful of skilled and experienced tradesmen.
During early 2012, Trent was still working at the mill site, but this time as a sub-contractor for firms such as Black and McDonald, and Ashland Canada. These companies were contracted by Resolute to undertake equipment disassembly and removal. (See descriptions of the work we completed during this time on our Projects page.)
Closure of Resolute Forest Products (Bowater Mersey)
In June 2012, the mill did formally close, much to the distress of the entire community. The mill had been operating in the community for over 80 years, and was a key economic driver in Queens County, and beyond.
The economic shock hit many businesses on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, including Trent’s business. Trent had to downsize his employees to just 2 men, finding work for them at the radiator shop in Hebbville.
Laying the Groundwork for HRS Contracting
Looking for opportunities to grow his struggling business, Trent decided to earn his safety certifications through the program offered by the Construction Safety Nova Scotia.
Once certified with NSCSA, Trent developed a safety training program for his employees. Now HRS, with their safety-trained employees, was in a position to grow, providing a future for Trent, and his employees.
Through the remainder of 2012, Trent and a small crew of men continued to maintain the mill, now under the management of Renova Scotia Bioenergy Inc.
HRS Contracting Established!
In January of 2013, HRS Contracting was formally established. Trent continues to expand the business, taking on bigger and more complex jobs. At times, Trent has employed up to 35 local people, and has been able generate new work for local sub-contractors.
Currently, HRS is building a great future working with Aqualitas, an aquaponic cannabis producer, operating at the Port Mersey Commercial Park, Brooklyn, Nova Scotia.