André Chevigny had next to nothing growing up; living with his single mom in a mobile home, times were definitely tough. André used to steal fuel from the owner of a gravel business next door, just so he could get to school. But a man of honour, even in his youth, André paid the man back and made the situation right. When his older brother Bryan needed help with his log home business, a teenage André would work peeling logs after school and on weekends.
Today André is in charge of the day-to-day running of Pioneer Log Homes of B.C., a multimillion-dollar company with a global client list. He manages more than 120 employees and millions of dollars worth of log inventory on the yard. Expecting perfection, he pushes these men and women to their limits for maximum creativity and production, while holding a deep respect and appreciation for his staff who work long hours away from home and family.
While he’s exceedingly polite and never forgets anyone’s name, André has been known to butt heads with some members of his family business, and sometimes even the guys in the yard. As the one who writes the cheques, he often has to be the bearer of bad news. In the past, Bryan Sr. has promised the guys new equipment, but it’s André who has to tell them no.
Outside of Pioneer, André can be found spending time with his wife and four kids. Work or play, his commitment to family and resolve for building relationships is what André strives for daily. He is a firm believer that adversity transcends you. His honesty and integrity is apparent the first time you meet him.
As a boy, Bryan Reid spent many winters with his father trudging through deep snow and extreme cold in the Canadian wilderness tending their trap-lines. At the end of each day, they’d light a fire in a small, rustic log cabin and it would be complete heaven.
At age 18, Bryan was married with a son on the way and needed a place to live. He wanted a log cabin like the ones in his youth, and he knew he could build it with the help of a First Nations man, Samson Jack. Although Samson could neither read nor write, he could use hand tools to lift and stack logs weighing thousands of pounds. Samson taught Bryan everything he knows.
Forty years later, Bryan is a log home tycoon who has gone to international trade conferences with three Canadian Prime Ministers and met two U.S. presidents. His company, Pioneer Log Homes of B.C., is the largest builder of handcrafted log homes in the world. Bryan’s brother André describes him as “stubborn as an ox” and says Bryan’s hard-driving attitude has often made the impossible, possible.
Now sharing the reins of Pioneer with André and Bryan Jr., Bryan Sr.'s persistence often leads to clashes. He is notoriously on the clients’ side, no matter how it affects the schedule or bottom line.
When Bryan was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, the doctors gave him a less than 5 per cent chance of survival. His single-minded doggedness got him through, together with his belief in God and support from all his family and friends who cared and prayed for him.
As a child, if Bryan Junior wanted to see his father, he would have to work at the yard. While other kids were watching cartoons on Saturday morning, he was hauling logs in the woods. When he was younger, Bryan Jr. had no ambition to join the family business, but after growing up building log homes, he realized how much it meant to him.
Today Bryan Jr. is known for his unstoppable work ethic and addiction to log building. If he’s not in the yard, he’s in the office. If it’s a weekend, he’s often building a house for himself—Bryan Jr. has built 10 (and counting) of his own personal homes across North America. Bryan Jr. also has a fishing resort with several Pioneer cabins, which he built himself over 8 years of hard work. A family business, the resort is managed by Bryan Jr.'s wife.
In light of his dad’s recent cancer scare, Bryan Jr. has found himself with one foot in the work yard and one in the office. While Bryan Sr., André and Bryan Jr. share control of the company, a lingering friction also exists. Not one for office politics, Jr.'s heart belongs in the work yard.
Beat has an infectious laugh and serious temper. He takes enormous artistic pride in his work, labouring over every log as if it were his own. His father is a nuclear physicist and Beat’s own IQ is off the charts, which comes in handy with the precise nature of log home building. Beat’s work tends to be the most creative in the group, and he even dabbles in chainsaw carving.
While Beat calls working for Pioneer a “dream job,” there’s no denying the danger that goes along with it—every day you can get killed. While they all laugh about it now, Beat once shot himself in the arm with a nail gun. After the agony of pulling out the nail, he accidentally shot himself with a second nail in the same arm only a few minutes later.
A practical joker through and through, one of his finer moments saw him hide an extra log corner in a shipment Bryan Sr. was setting up. When Senior got to the location he spent hours trying to figure out what to do with the extra logs that weren’t on the packing list, all the while worrying the whole house might come tumbling down.
Of all the guys at Pioneer, Peter is the most transparent. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is never shy about sharing his thoughts, even with clients. He is known for those times when homeowners have asked for tweaks or modifications, to which he has said, “That’s stupid!” or “I would never do that!”
This Master Craftsman and Certified Swiss Timber Framer takes enormous pride in his work, thinking of his clients’ homes as his own. Peter is also known around Pioneer as "the fire brigade" because he can go anywhere and fix any problem at any house. He used to renovate ancient European stone castles, but loves working with pure wood even more.
Peter is a big practical joker. He and André used to have a gentlemen’s agreement that they would warn one another if they were about to get pranked. This went on for years until André allowed the team to get Peter good—now all bets are off!