Ryan Robicheau, 26, has been working for just about as long as he can remember.

“When I was 7, 8, 9 years old, I used to work on my grandfather’s mink ranch,” he explains. “I’d feed them, take care of them, give them water. I used to work weekends and get a $25 cheque. I was fit to be tied. I’d go down to the store and buy a poutine, a burger and a drink and it would be gone.”

Since working on the mink ranch – which once held up to 30,000 animals – Ryan had his grandfather’s entrepreneurial spirit. February 17th, 2017 was his first day as a traffic control person (TCP). After getting the hang of the job fairly quickly, he was placed in a management role. After working for organizations like Safety First and Dexter’s, it was time for Ryan to strike out on his own and build crews under the banner of Blacktop Traffic Service.

Located on Highway 1 in Marshalltown, Blacktop provides traffic control services to Southwest Nova Scotia. They offer their services in Windsor and Lunenburg to Yarmouth, sometimes sending crews up to Cape Breton. The team is currently comprised of 35 members and they’re always on the go.

“They were always in my line of sight,” Ryan says of approaching CBDC Digby- Clare for help starting his own business. Coincidentally, his development officer is also named Ryan Robicheau. “My first loan was for $20,000. Ryan is fantastic. CBDC helped me through courses, every step of the way. They were quick to respond and always so helpful.”

Officially opening in 2022, Blacktop has seen an unprecedented amount of demand for their services in a short period of time. “Owning my own business is good because I always have something to do,” Ryan says. “I actually wish I could buy an eighth day, because there aren’t enough days in the week. There’s just not enough time.”

In addition to running Blacktop Traffic Service, Ryan also volunteers with the Plympton and Gilbert’s Cove Fire Department, located on Highway 101 in Plympton. He works as a captain and medical first responder.

“The fire hall is good, I’m down once or twice a week,” he explains. “I’ve been involved since 2012, assisting with EHS and as a certified pump operator through the fire school, class 3 – I can run all the trucks.”

He may always be busy, but Ryan is quick to point out that he didn’t build this business alone. In addition to collaborating with CBDC, Nova Scotia Works in Digby also assisted him. His parents and grandfather were very supportive of him striking out on his own, and his wife Allyson played an integral role in building a business plan for Blacktop.

“You wouldn’t believe her patience and intelligence,” Ryan says admiringly of his partner of more than 10 years. “With her help, we had a 7-page business plan done in three days.”

He is also grateful for his team – the crews that oversee road construction at all hours of the day and all days of the week.

“People text me, saying this is the best job they’ve ever had,” Ryan says, his voice cracking a little. “I can’t even describe the feeling that I get from reading that. It goes a long way.”

There are ambitious plans for the future underway. Blacktop will offer automotive services through a small maintenance shop within the next year. Ryan is aiming to provide safety training and courses on-site as well. He’d like to have 100 trucks on the road within the next 10 years.

“I actually wish I could buy an eighth day, because there aren’t enough days in the week.” 


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