Eric Cameron: The puzzle master

By Carolyn Cooper

Fitting a mechanical room together is a bit like putting together a puzzle, says Eric Cameron. “You get a blueprint that has equipment on it, but there’s no drawing on how to run everything, you basically have to figure that all out yourself.”

That’s one reason Cameron, foreman at Calgary’s Nu-Mun Contracting, says working in mechanical rooms and running heating is his favourite part of the job. “There’s more of a challenge, you have to plan and think a lot more when you’re working on the hydronics side, such as having to sort through which pump you can use on what size of a line, and checking flow rates of piping systems, planning how everything’s going to fit in a confined space.”

Growing up, Cameron knew he wanted to be a plumber like his father, and following high school he attended Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), graduating in 2004 as a journeyman plumber and gas fitter after completing his apprenticeship with Calgary’s Mystique Mechanical. It was at Nu-Mun, which he joined soon after, that he trained to work on hydronics.

“When I was apprenticing hydronics wasn’t its own code yet, so we covered it a bit in school, but not a lot. So most of it was on-the-job training with Nu-Mun, working on custom homes and high-density residential buildings. At Nu-Mun in particular we’ve done fusion welding piping, both Aquatherm and aquatechnik, which are polypropylene piping systems that use an iron to heat the pipe and fitting to about 450°F and welds the pipe by heat, so it’s a lot cleaner to work with and you don’t have to worry about fires with a soldering kit.”

Some of his most memorable work projects include the Upten, a 40-storey tower in downtown Calgary with one floor of commercial space and the rest residential units, for which Cameron planned and ran the main floor and top floor mechanical rooms. “And then we did a residential conversion, one of the first in Canada, which was a seven-storey office tower in downtown Calgary that was converted into a residence,” says Cameron. “It was gutted and the entire mechanical system was redone. I ran that whole project, which was a challenge because of the post tension cable system they had. If you snap one of those then the whole building comes down!”

Cameron says the people and the variety of projects are what has kept him at Nu-Mun Contracting for almost 17 years, and, he says it allows him to indulge in his passion for travel. “I tend to work pretty solid for two years and then my wife and I go away for three months and travel,” he says. “So all my work is basically just leading up to my next trip.”

 

Name: Eric Cameron

Nickname: Erock

Company: Nu-Mun Contracting

Job title: Foreman

Born in: Calgary, AB

Lives in: Calgary, AB

Age: 40

Spouse: Kari

Pets: Lucy, a German Shephard cross; and two cats Luna and Leelu (the smart one)

In the mechanical industry since: 1998

School: John G Diefenbaker, 1998, and SAIT, 2004

Best teacher: Mr. Kang, my junior high math teacher

Favourite class: Spare

Best advice you’ve ever received: Happy wife, happy life

The current work ride: 2016 Dodge Ram

Kilometres per day: 50 to 100

Average time behind the wheel per day: One to two hours

Service area: Calgary and area

Where you like to get dispatched to: Any place close to home

Favourite part of the job? Working in a mechanical room

The most useful tool in your toolbox: Olfa knife

Your favourite tool in your toolbox: ‘Frangelica’ my 18-in. flat jaw adjustable Knipex pliers

Tool that you wish you had? More Knipex pliers or a 12V mini bandsaw

Last book you read: One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

If you were granted one wish: Erase COVID from history

Best concert you ever attended? Hopefully Rage Against the Machine in 2022

Favourite magazine: Mechanical Business of course!

My rule of thumb is … everything is better with a scotch and a Guinness

If I had a million dollars … I’d buy our forever home

When I was a kid, I wanted to be … in the KGB or a marine biologist

If I had a super power it would be … flight

Favourite TV show: The Wire

Favourite movie of all time: The Fifth Element

Favourite sport: NHL and NFL

Favourite car of all time: Lamborghini Countach

Favourite food: Pasta

Three albums that you’d take with you to your desert island:

  1. 10,000 Days by Tool
  2. Madvillainy by MF DOOM
  3. Bob Marley’s Greatest Hits

Favourite outdoor activity: Snowboarding

Hobbies: Snowboarding, surfing, golfing, working in my greenhouse.

 

Pre-Pandemic Trip Plans

Pre-pandemic, Cameron and his wife Kari were planning a seven-month trip to South America. “We were planning on doing the longest trip we’ve ever done, so we had to cancel the whole thing,” he says. “Now we’re just waiting to see when it’s going to be safe to take off somewhere. Norway is probably highest on my list right now, but we’d love to travel anywhere.”

 

 

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