Every legend has an origin story. When 25-year-old Roland Bushey began his career in the Canadian Province, the year was 1955. The world was evolving at a dizzying speed. The St. Lawrence Seaway had opened, connecting Montreal to the US Ports of the Great Lakes; the first McDonald’s was erected, complete with golden arches, and Elvis was taking the world by storm.
All in the family
It was that year when Roland began working full-time as a motor grader operator in PEI. And 62 years later, he is still hard at work. Grading was in Bushey’s DNA. His dad had been operator, so Roland understood the hard work ahead.
“There were so many levers you had to operate, pushing them back and forth,” he says. “It was very tough on the hands, and there was a lot to keep track of.”
In the late ‘60s, Roland joined Chapman Brothers Construction and, since then, he’s missed only one day of work.
“Rollie’s part of the family. He’s been a true gentleman and inspiration to everyone,” says Project Manager Craig Chapman. “He shows up every day and puts in a full 12 hours. That dedication can’t be replaced.”
Nothing as constant as change
Bushey has experienced a lot of changes in the industry and on the job site during his career. The 87-year old is now on his fourth generation Cat® motor grader, and the innovation and technology that have been brought into the machine doesn’t go unnoticed.
Instead of multiple levers, there are only two joysticks to operate, and GPS guides the machine around the site. Roland says the expanded view from the cab provides a better panoramic picture of his surroundings.
“It’s all very easy to operate and very modern,” he says. “It doesn’t take long to learn. It’s an all-around more efficient way to work.”
Focusing on what matters most
Bushey decided earlier this year to cut back from working twelve hours a day to ten, and after a lot of pleading from his family, he’s going to retire at the end of year. What’s kept him on the job for so long? “Hard work doesn’t give me the chance to slow down,” he says.
Donald Hay, the account manager at Atlantic Cat, has known “Rollie” for more than 20 years. “He never seems to age,” says Hay. “His hard work and dedication will be missed by Chapman Brothers and the rest of his crew members, but we join them in wishing him all the best in his well-deserved retirement at the end of this year.”
Coming full circle
One of Roland’s first jobs at the beginning of his career was building a runway at the Summerside PEI airport, and now six decades later, one of his last projects is the runway expansion in Charlottetown. As he taxies into retirement, he looks forward to time with his family and relaxing a bit.
When asked what he’d recommend for the next generation Cat motor grader, he wasn’t shy. “A place to put the lunchbox,” he replies with a chuckle.