Bob Jacobs has many memories of his father. Edmund Jacobs, who died in 2007 aged 91, founded Jacobs Industries after arriving in Whitehorse from Edmonton in 1943, the same year his son Bob was born. In addition to being the first ever civilian to drive on the Alaska Highway, Edmund Jacobs was once a popular Whitehorse mayor and holds a spot in the Yukon Transportation Hall of Fame. 

Now, he is remembered by many for his unwavering work ethic and willingness to help anyone with anything. His son Bob, though, also remembers Edmund for his incredibly detailed memory when recounting moments from his own life. 

“I just remember dad would tell stories,” Bob Jacobs said. “I thought there was no way anyone could remember that kind of detail from when they were 18, 20 years old.” 

When Edmund Jacobs passed away, Bob Jacobs inherited his father’s welding and machinery company. He had worked there on and off since his teen years, and even when he pursued a career in firefighting, he still found himself helping out with the company often, especially when his father’s health began to deteriorate. 

“I found myself working there after school and during the summers when I was in my teens,” said Jacobs. “I worked there full-time until around 1988, then I oved to the fire department fulltime but I was still an executive and director of the company.” 

Jacobs Industries is still a family-run business, with Jacobs’ son, daughter and son-in-law all handling various roles within the company. Jacobs’ brothers had all also worked at the business at some point or another before their passing. 

The company is currently located at 4269 4th Avenue in Whitehorse, with agents also in Dawson City, Yukon; Inuvik, NWT and Atlin, BC. Being in the role of president since 2007, Jacobs has overseen lots of the company’s growth.

“It definitely keeps me on my toes,” he said, noting that his role these days involves more management and he doesn’t do so much physical labour like he used to. 

Jacobs Industries’ claim to fame is that no job is too big or too small for the company to handle. The Jacobs Industries team, typically consisting of 12 to 15 people, regularly handles everything from kitchen and household appliance repairs to work with heavy machinery and even equipment manufacturing and sales. After so many decades in business, it’s not often that Jacobs comes across a job unlike anything he’s done before, but he still enjoys a good challenge on occasion.

“There are still things that are a challenge and not something we’ve done in the past,” he said. “We can usually apply some of our experience to parts of any job, though.” 

One of the company’s most impressive and well-known jobs to date was their role in the creation of the largest weathervane in the world—the DC-3 plane that can be seen in the parking lot of the Yukon Transportation Museum. Edmund Jacobs was still operating the company when this job was done, but Bob Jacobs remembers it well. The plane itself had already had a long and history in the Yukon, and famed Yukon pilot Bob Cameron, who didn’t want to see the plane end up as scrap metal, asked Bob Jacobs to bring to his father the idea of mounting it on a pedestal to be displayed for Yukoners to see. It was mounted outside the airport in 1981.

Like his son, Edmund Jacobs had a penchant for rising up to any challenge. He and the others involved in the project were told the feat would be impossible, but this didn’t stop them. Edmund Jacobs was very knowledgeable on both metals and aircrafts, and brought forward the idea of making the plane move with the wind to keep it from getting damaged by it. In doing so, he helped the Yukon set a world record which it maintains to this day. 

“I think it’s still in the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest weathervane in the world,” said Bob Jacobs. 

While Jacobs Industries continues to grow as a company and evolve to modern times, there are also difficulties that have come up within the business more recently. According to Jacobs, it’s been difficult to find qualified people to bring aboard at the company the last few years. COVID hasn’t helped, but even before that, the worsening housing situation in the territory was already preventing skilled welders and other trades people from moving up north when they’re able to find employment elsewhere. 

“It seems like people just don’t want to move up here,” he said. “We’ve been trying to find welders and machinists for years, and there’s a few out there available, but most of them have families and the housing situation up here makes it really hard for people to move up here and find a place to live.” 

Nearly 15 years after his father’s passing, Bob Jacobs is still carrying on the legacy of his father. Edmund Jacobs was a man who wanted to help anyone who needed anything, and his expertise in metal-working made allowed him to do lots for the community. Bob Jacobs said his father’s generosity didn’t just go towards his work either—he often donated equipment and labour to various jobs like the building of two roads into Lake Labarge, as well as setting up a ski hill at Haeckel Hill, even though he didn’t ski himself. 

It’s easy to see what kind of person Edmund Jacobs was by the things he did for his community. In carrying on the company, Bob Jacobs and his family are able to carry on the spirit of Edmund Jacobs’ generosity and kindness. After almost 80 years, Jacobs Industries is still a family-run business with its original vision perfectly intact.  

“We’re still in there fixing everything that comes through the door,” said Bob Jacobs. “If people are in trouble, we like to help out.” 

To read more about Jacobs Industries, or to inquire about their services or look into a career with the company, visit https://www.jacobsindustries.ca/