Anyone who has worked in the ship repair and construction industry in Ontario will tell you our industry is not for the faint of heart. From minus 40 below zero in the winter to plus 37 degrees centigrade in the summer and everything in between, our people earn their living in harsh environments while performing incredibly difficult tasks. Whether it’s welding steel in double bottoms in the middle of winter or replacing valves in a sweltering hot engine room at the height of simmer, shipyard work in Ontario takes a special kind of person. Simply put, It takes Mettle.
Heddle Shipyards is made up of over 250 of these special kinds of people. Our people work long hours, weekends and holidays despite the conditions to deliver vessels to our clients. It isn’t easy to single out any one person because our company operates as a team. Still, sometimes it is necessary to pay respect to a person who exemplifies what it means to have Mettle, and John Mens is one of those people.
A native of St. Catharines, John Mens began his career forty-six years ago at the Port Weller Dry Docks as a C-class welder at the age of 19. When Heddle began operations at the Port Weller Dry Docks, John immediately became Heddle’s Steel Superintendent and Dockmaster. He has been and still is an integral part of Heddle’s success. For over forty years, John has played a key role in the construction of some of the largest vessels to ever sail out of the shipyard, as well as hundreds of dry dockings and repair projects. John is currently on leave facing a personal battle, and just as he has done for 46 years at Port Weller, he is standing tall and facing the challenge head-on.
When Heddle took over the Port Weller Dry Docks in 2017, John Mens provided his knowledge and experience to assist in the revitalization of the storied shipyard. “John has played a key role in the revitalization of the shipyard. His institutional knowledge of the facility is second to none, and I have always been impressed by his work ethic. Everyone is looking forward to his return to the yard this fall to lead another busy winter of dockings. I know John is chomping at the bit to get back as well,” says Heddle’s President Shaun Padulo, “one of my favorite pastimes at Heddle is watching Rick Heddle and John dock ships together. You can’t help but admire their passion, and you know that they are having fun.”
As Heddle continues to revitalize the Ontario shipyards, it is important to recognize those who exemplify the hard work and determination our industry demands. That is why on July 1st, 2021, Heddle Shipyards was honored to officially name the docking office and pump room at the Port Weller Dry Docks, Mens’ Dockmaster Office. The docking office has always been unofficially known as John’s office, and it is with great pride that we have made it official. It is a reminder to everyone who walks through the shipyard gates of the hard work and perseverance that define John and so many others who work in our industry.
From Everyone at Heddle Shipyard, we thank John for everything he has done for Heddle and the shipbuilding industry in Ontario. John is truly the definition of Mettle.