Skip to main content

Harnessing opportunities in the US nuclear market – an interview with Aecon’s new VP of US Nuclear Operations, Brad Smalldridge

Aug 29, 2023

Aecon is excited to welcome Brad Smalldridge as Vice President of US Operations, Nuclear. Brad brings over 30 years of senior leadership experience and will be responsible for leading the company’s Aecon-Wachs business in the US, with a focus on strategic growth and business development in this evolving market. He has previously held executive roles with major nuclear service providers, and utilities, and has served in the US Federal and commercial nuclear markets.

In a recent interview, Brad spoke to Aecon’s Corporate Affairs team about his journey in the nuclear sector, and his vision for Aecon’s growth in the US nuclear market: 

What drives your interest in the energy sector and what attracted you most to joining Aecon? 

I started in nuclear power right out of university in 1989 and have been engaged in the business since then. Nuclear power is a safe, affordable, and carbon-free source of energy that is vital for North America and the world to turn the tide on global warming and the provision of sustainable and reliable power to energy users. 

The opportunity to join Aecon was perfectly timed with a resurgence of reliance on nuclear power in the US that includes new small modular reactors. The opportunity for US market growth and to develop a strong team were exactly what I was looking for. 

What’s your vision for Aecon-Wachs and our US operations? 

My vision is to strengthen the Aecon-Wachs team and leverage the Aecon brand, success, and experience in Canada to grow our business in the US and enhance our expertise as a nuclear constructor and service provider – delivering solutions that add value to the industry.

In the US, the position on nuclear power has taken a turn. Five to ten years ago, the US nuclear industry was in decline and commercial nuclear power plants across the country were being shut down. As the demand for sustainable energy production increases, and North America moves away from carbon-based power production, there are significant opportunities for the sector. Today and for the foreseeable future, nuclear power plants are being maintained and having their operating lives extended, and more advanced reactors are being built, which presents opportunities for Aecon-Wachs. 

Leading our nuclear operations in the US, what excites you the most when you think about Aecon’s future? 

The timing for infrastructure improvements and the prioritization of carbon-free energy production have culminated in an opportunity for Aecon to expand its presence in the US. We have a motivated team and they have already identified and responded to that by creating an organization poised to respond to these opportunities.

What do you see as our Industry’s biggest challenges in the next five years?

As North America moves away from carbon-based power generation, ensuring that the industry has the required capacity to provide sustainable, affordable, and reliable electric power to residential and commercial users is part of the challenge. 

To meet the goals set by various regulators and lawmakers, there will need to be significant collaboration across the industry. Governments, utilities, and private businesses will need to partner to effectively plan and implement the strategies needed to prevent power generation capacity and power grid issues.

What keeps you up at night, or keeps you going? 

What keeps me up at night are the potential solutions to issues that will help businesses like ours better serve our clients.

What keeps me going is continuing to develop the great team we have, but also expanding so that we can harness the opportunities in front of us. I draw significant personal satisfaction from developing and mentoring people into the leaders for tomorrow, and in developing a team that will continue to succeed and grow well after I’m gone. 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to advance their career in the nuclear sector?

The move to more sustainable energy production demonstrates that the global nuclear industry is on a growth trajectory. This will provide meaningful employment opportunities for the construction and operation of commercial nuclear plants for decades to come. I would strongly encourage anyone with an interest to pursue a career in the nuclear sector and join a team like Aecon in Canada or Aecon-Wachs in the US. My first few months have confirmed that the culture here is supportive and growth-oriented, with a focus on Safety First. 

What’s something that most people would not know about you?  

I’m an avid bicycle rider. I find the time spent on a bike either by myself or with a group, allows me to unplug for a few hours, and renews me both physically and mentally. So, if you see a group of cyclists  on the road, one of them might be me. Please show respect and give the riders the distance they need to be safe.

About Aecon
Aecon Group Inc. (TSX: ARE) is a national Canadian construction and infrastructure development company with global experience. Aecon delivers integrated solutions to private and public-sector clients through its Construction segment in the Civil, Urban Transportation, Nuclear, Utility and Industrial sectors, and provides project development, financing, investment and management services through its Concessions segment. Join our online community on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram @AeconGroupInc.

For further information:
Mark Schildroth
Senior Manager, Corporate Affairs