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Staff Profile: Ben Kember – How busy is too busy?
“I like being busy,” says CAMACC Account Manager and National Safety Coordinator, Ben Kember. Then he rubs his jaw, blinks a few times, and adds: “But maybe not this busy.”
To be fair, he’s not whining, he really is that busy. In addition to being professionally handsome, Ben has two full-time jobs at CAMACC, looking after some of our largest accounts, and championing safe work practices by all our staff and subcontractors. When you add husband, father, and Tyrant (of the mildly Independent Republic of Kember – more about the IRK below), his daytimer is full.
Ben started at CAMACC systems 8 years ago, shortly after graduating from the University of Victoria with a degree in mathematics. There Ben played basketball for the UVic Vikings, and paid for his studies by tending bar. We swear we’re not making this up.
“My first real job after university was at a math company, where I sat in a cubicle and solved abstract algebra and multivariate calculus equations for engineers and physicists,” says Ben, who hated every minute of it. “I hated every minute of it.”
After a return to bartending, where he met his future wife, Ben was hired as a technician by Steve “Wild Bill” Comber, one of CAMACC’s founders. Most people would have been thrown by the interview and first day on the job…
“On the first day, Wild Bill went to a meeting and told me to fix some broken technology: a Pelco 6700 matrix and analog video switcher for multiple sites,” says Ben. “I had never seen one before, and didn’t know what it was.” Being a naturally technical guy, he fixed it. The next day Ben was sent to the airport to fix a door access control system that wasn’t working. “We do doors?” said Ben, then he fixed it. Again, not making this up.
Fortunately, Ben received a comprehensive tech training, and after four years of field tech work all over Western Canada, Ben moved into a management position, where he supervised technical installation and service work from British Columbia to Saskatchewan.
Eventually Ben moved into Account Management work for CAMACC, where he looks after Suncor, Money Mart, and many others. “I like a new challenge every few years,” says Ben. “So I also took on the national safety role. It was at an important time for us, because a subcontractor hurt himself on a job, and we needed to look hard at all our practices.”
Partnering with CEO Ho Kim, Ben helped create a “safety first” culture at CAMACC, where every single employee receives comprehensive training.
“We are now one of Canada’s safest companies,” says Ben. “We are part of the Suncor Contractor’s Safety Council, and other client companies like Chevron have taken our safety practices and applied them across their own network in the USA.”
For Ben, it’s all about the challenge: “Continually keeping up with what you have to do on a day-to-day basis, looking after our customers, keeping the safety awareness level high, and being innovative with new practices, is a challenge I enjoy,” says Ben.
Recently, he and his wife and son increased the family challenge factor by purchasing an acreage on Vancouver Island, north of Victoria. “The Independent Republic of Kember” is a fixer-upper inside and out. Whether it’s installing appliances in the new kitchen he built, laying flooring, or protecting his chickens from the local raccoons, Ben is busy.
A little too busy.