Kirk Mitton and his brother Reid Mitton were among the more than 300 employees working at the Bowater Mersey Mill when it shut down last June.
© Aethne Hinchliffe Photo
Kirk Mitton and his brother Reid Mitton stand by their new rig for Brothers Insulfoam, an insulation business just starting in Queens County.
They had each worked there for nearly 30 years but neither was concerned when the closure happened.
‘I’m going to work for myself.’ That’s what the two were thinking.
Half a year ago, Kirk and Reid knew little to nothing about spray foam, but that’s not the case anymore.
When a neighbour mentioned the spray-foam business as a way to make a living, Kirk and Reid contacted someone in Ontario and from there were put in touch with National Foam Supply. The company is locally owned and operated (in Mount Uniacke) and is the only Atlantic Canadian based network of foam franchises.
The Mitton brothers say if it hadn’t been for the foam-supply company, they wouldn’t be where they are.
“If we have a problem, they’re a phone call away,” says Kirk.
That’s the short story of how Brothers Spray foam, based out of Liverpool, came to be.
“We went to South Shore Opportunities. They helped a lot,” says Reid.
South Shore Opportunities set up a business plan and showed the Mittons what they needed to know for business. The process of getting the business to where it is now took about seven months.
Each week, the two had tasks, such as networking, finding out about advertising and getting an idea of overall business costs.
“Even now we’re on the SEB program,” Kirk says.
Self-Employment Benefit (SEB) provides business training and financial assistance to approved clients wanting to start their own businesses. According to South Shore Opportunities’ website, clients can get up to a total of 40 weeks of financial support.
Kirk says he and Reid got things rolling as soon as the mill closed. The Mittons were used to being ready to work when the mill had temporary shutdowns. They would each line up work in preparation. While at Bowater, Kirk and Reid also worked as commercial divers.
The brothers had the same idea.
“‘How can we get out of Bowater?’”
In addition to doing polyurethane insulation, Kirk and Reid also plan to do blown-in cellulose and blown-in fiberglass insulation.
“It’s good for new and old construction. A lot of people think it’s just for new,” says Reid.
Though some people aren’t familiar with polyurethane insulation, Kirk and Reid say there seems to be quite a bit of interest in Queens County.
Much of the job involves prep work, which means covering everything. Kirk and Reid say it could easily take half a day to prepare to spray. The length of time a job takes once the prep is over depends on what’s being sprayed.
Despite the hard work, the brothers agree they are enjoying running the business. They each do everything necessary to get things done.
“If you’re going to be in business, you’ve just got to be that way. You can’t expect that you’re going to do everything,” says Reid.
“You’ve got to give and take because there’s a lot of work. There’s no way one person can do everything.”
Setting up an insulation business wasn’t a big stretch for Kirk and Reid. Both have always enjoyed and been interested in doing construction.
“I just like being outdoors and working for myself,” says Reid, and Kirk agrees. “Sometimes there’s a little pressure, but at least you’re not a robot.”
One of the biggest challenges getting started, says Reid, was finding someone in the area who knew about spray foam. About seven months later, Kirk and Reid have gotten over that challenge. Their Brothers Insulfoam rig is on road and the two are ready to go.