Hot Jobs: May 24, 2024

Mary Van Buren has accepted a position as governance & strategy advisor at tng after more than six years as president of the Canadian Construction Association.

Jason Dew is stepping into a new role as senior manager of brand storytelling at Procore Technologies.

Thomas McDougall has been promoted to vice president of operations at Jacob Bros Construction.

Keeli Husband has been promoted to director, business development at EllisDon.

Chandos has changed up its leadership team: Nicholas Darling is chief operating officer, Ellie Choi is senior vice president (risk and legal), Oliver Dees is senior vice president (strategic services) and D’Arcy Newberry is senior vice president (civil and Edmonton).

Mindy Henyu starting a new position as senior manager, Indigenous relations at Aecon Group. Henyu is an Indigenous woman from the Tahltan Nation and Waterhen Lake Cree Nation living in Treaty 7 territory

Jon Castillo has been promoted to operations manager of construction at Orion. He has been with the company five years and Orion says he brings a wealth of experience to his new role.

Larry Mac has stepped into a new role as regional director for Vancouver Island and Amy Livingston has been promoted to senior project coordinator at MAKE Projects.

Derrick Leung has joined Urban Systems as its new civil engineering technologist.

EllisDon has announced leadership appointments in Eastern Canada: Wayne Ferguson (senior vice president, construction, buildings), Mike Armstrong (vice president and area manager for Ottawa) and Brad Cyr (vice president and area manager for Quebec). 

Brianne Mahon has been promoted to community relations director, North America, at GFL Environmental. Mahon also recently celebrated nine years at the company. 

After seven years away, Austin Vlooswyk is returning to WSP Canada as senior director, business development – energy, resources and industry, west. 

Annette Cooper, director of data & analytics for Graham, was one of the winners for the Top 100 Data & Analytics Professional Awards at the 2024 OnConferences Icon Awards. Winners were voted on by their peers. 

James Fisher has retired from Kinetic Construction after 13 years of service. The company noted that Fisher was instrumental in mentoring multiple superintendents, foremen, carpenters, project managers and project coordinators.  

James Fisher

Jill Truscott is now senior director of global marketing at CarbonCure Technologies

Braden Barwich has been promoted to VP of revenue at SiteMax after five years with the software provider. The company stated that Barwich has played a pivotal role in bringing most of its customers on board.

Christina Chiarini has transferred to PCL’s solar district as district HR/PD coordinator after serving its Toronto district for more than two years. 

Jonathan Graham has joined Kindred Works Development as its new manager of building performance. He holds a master’s from Toronto Metropolitan University in building science and has experience in sustainability analysis as well as architecture and engineering consulting.

Pongsatorn Phimnualsri has started a new role as preconstruction technologist at Stack Modular

Cheryl Schindler is Maple Reinders’ new business development manager for its western operations. Schindler said Innovation, integrity, and a diverse portfolio of complex projects are part of what drew her to the company.

George Stasinaki has joined the Gillam Team as an assistant project manager on the LOFT Bradford House project. George graduated with a civil engineering degree from Toronto Metropolitan University and brings over 24 years of experience working in the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors.

Deanna Perrin, an associate at RJC Engineering, has been recognized as an Outstanding Instructor at the University of British Columbia.

Passionate about paying her education forward, Deanna taught a fourth-year undergrad course on Reinforced Concrete Design. This was her second time teaching the course as a Sessional Instructor at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

RJC Engineering

Ken Tanner has been appointed vice president & district manager of Canada at Flatiron Construction. Tanner joined Flatiron after graduating college in 1998 and has progressed through many vital roles: field engineer, structures superintendent, project engineer, project manager, area manager and operations vice president.

Nicole Emmett has started a new position as Associate Vice-President, Marketing and Communications at Canadian Construction Association – Association canadienne de la construction where I’ll be leading our marketing, communications and events teams. I am looking forward to all the opportunities ahead and working with this incredible team.

Cristal Sargent has begun a new role as mentorship advisor team lead with the BC Construction Association’s Building Builders Mentorship Program.

Patrick Lalonde has been promoted to senior director, digital project delivery at EllisDon. He joined the company nearly 14 years ago as a BIM coordinator.

This reflects not only a significant achievement in my career, but also the fast-changing world of BIM/VDC and how it integrates with all aspects of the built asset lifecycle … I would like to thank the EllisDon family for all their support and leadership allowing me to embrace the spirit of entrepreneurial enthusiasm and grow both personally and professionally within the organization.

Patrick Lalonde, senior director, digital project delivery, EllisDon

Lynn Richman has joined NUQO as a senior project manager. The company noted that with over two decades of modular construction industry experience, Richman is one of the most experienced and respected modular project managers in Canada, managing over 400 modular construction projects including key developments for BC Housing and the 2010 Winter Olympics in B.C.

Travers Stephan is celebrating ten years with Westridge Construction. He has led diverse projects, from water treatment plants to bridges. Most recently, he spearheaded the construction of the Douglas Park Pickleball Court Development.

Joey Chiasson is Acciona‘s new environmental manager. Previously, Chiasson was environmental lead for Ledcor.

April Watson has retired from Sanderson Concrete after working as its office manager for more than 25 years. Company officials noted that her intelligence, kindness, and dedication have shaped Sanderson’s workplace into a community of warmth and camaraderie.

April Watson

* Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a series of interviews conducted with winners of SiteNews’ recent awards program, Construction’s Most Influential People

As building transformation & adaptive reuse leader, principal, for global design firm Gensler, Steven Paynter is using technology to help revitalize downtown areas around the world.

When tasked with assisting the city of Calgary in converting vacant office space for other uses, Paynter and his team developed a digital tool that uses information any broker would know to feed into an office building conversion algorithm. The tool then determines if the stripped down bones of the structure would work for residential conversion. After creating thousands of new housing units, this approach has now spread to other major cities, including Toronto, New York and San Francisco.

We caught up with Paynter to learn about building teams, being creative, leaving the UK for Canada and more.

SiteNews: Is there one book, podcast, video or piece of content that you think everyone in construction should check out?

Paynter: “Creativity Inc.” by Ed Catmull. It’s not about construction, but it is about how to organize and manage creative teams across complex tasks. It explains how to do that better than anything else I’ve read.

Did you have a mentor or role model early in your career? How did their guidance or example shape your path in construction?

The two early mentors that shaped how I work were my first Managing Director, he was a creative risk taker that always looked for what was next in the industry. That company led the way on BIM, Digital Twins and sustainability a decade ahead of others. The second was a drywaller that I worked with on site, as an architect having a person on site that could really tell you how things worked was great

What was the biggest calculated risk you took in your career, and what were the rewards (or lessons learned) from that experience?

Leaving the UK in 2012 and coming to Toronto because there was more opportunity here. The payoff has been huge, most people I worked with in the UK have since left the architecture industry because there was no space to grow. By moving I’ve been able to do what I love and massively expand my influence across North America.

What advice would you give to your younger self, just starting out in your career?

Learn everything! You never know when you’ll need it or what else it will inspire.

What strategies have you found most effective in building and leading high-performing teams in construction?

I think it starts with hiring, I’ve always hired people that have skills that I don’t have and focused on people that were better than me in skills I do have. It’s allowed me to create an amazing team that can achieve almost anything. That diversity of skills and people is also great for building team cohesion as they collaborating, not competing

What single issue are you most passionate about in the construction sector?

Leaving the world in a better place than I found it

What would you like your professional legacy to be?

The work I’m doing on conversions at the moment has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of houses and really bring life back to downtowns. I would like my legacy to be better cities

Key Takeaways:

  • Nominations are now open for people to submit themselves or their peers for the awards.
  • Top 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction, now in its 5th year, recognizes young construction leaders and their industry accomplishments.
  • Nominations must be submitted by June 18. Winners will then be chosen by a diverse panel of industry experts.

The Whole Story:

Now in its 5th year, Top 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction is back and ready to once again recognize up-and-coming leaders in the construction sector. Nominations are officially open and can be submitted right now using this link.

The program’s organizers, On-Site Magazine and SitePartners, are looking for a cross-section of young professionals from all areas of the construction industry. Their previous four editions have featured individuals who have made an impact on the industry, rising through the ranks of their companies throughout their 20s or 30s.

Honourees have included: Architects, contractors, designers, engineers, equipment operators, estimators, executives, occupational health & safety managers, project managers, quantity surveyors, site supervisors, superintendents, tradespersons, and many more in the consulting, law, finance, and technology communities that support the industry.

How to nominate

All eligible nominees—construction professionals who are 39 years or younger, a resident of Canada and currently working in Canada—must have their name and details submitted through the official Top 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction form. This form must be completed in full. It may take up to 15 minutes or longer to complete. You may preview the list of the nomination questions that you will be required to fill out here, but only nominations that have been submitted through the official online form will be eligible.

You may choose to either nominate yourself or someone else. If you choose to nominate yourself, you must attach an endorsed Letter of Support from a current or former supervisor, colleague, client, or vendor. You may submit nominations for more than one person, but those submitting on behalf of companies or organizations are asked to limit their nominations to five individuals.

If you have won in the past, you can’t win again. But those who were nominated last year but did not win are encouraged to reapply. Nominations must be submitted by 11:59pm PST on Tuesday, June 18th, 2024.

Choosing the winners

In considering each candidate, a panel of judges will refer to the following weighted system:

  • 50% – Professional Achievement
    Significant business or project accomplishments.
    Track record of outstanding work in the office or field.
    Professional designations, memberships, or licences.
    Educational development and qualifications.
  • 40% – Innovation, Leadership, and Influence
    Professional innovation and industry disruption.
    Team leadership.
    Roles in key decision making.
  • 10% – Business / Community Involvement
    Participation in professional mentorship programs.
    Participation in charitable or volunteer initiatives.

Make sure to Nominate someone today for Top 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction before the deadline runs out.

A sold out crowd joined SiteNews in the Prairies to lift up those who are having a positive influence on the industry. 

Part of SiteNews’ mission is to celebrate people who are making construction better and inspiring others to do the same. We did just that this week in Calgary where we gathered with more than 100 guests to honour everyone recognized by our latest awards program, Construction’s Most Influential People.

The competition winners included teachers, lawyers, association leaders, entrepreneurs, engineers, documentarians and more. Collectively they have helped shape how builders build and how the public at large thinks about construction.

There’s so much passion in construction, and when you work in it there’s always this tangible asset, and there’s value in that. And right now, construction plays such a big part in both our economies, in B.C. and Alberta.

Josh Gaglardi, Orion Construction president

The event was generously supported by our sponsors, including ICBA Alberta, Sherwin-Williams, Clark Builders, Alltrade Industrial Contractors Inc., SiteMax Systems Inc., A Few Good Lads, SitePartners, VAULT & SALUS

In addition to enjoying some fine Alberta beef, those who joined us at the sold out celebration near the banks of the Bow River were treated to a panel discussion hosted by SiteNews Co-Founder Andrew Hansen with two of our competition winners: Orion Construction founder and president Josh Gaglardi, and SkilledTradesBC CEO Shelley Gray. 

The pair gave their thoughts on leadership, growth, attracting workers and more. 

Gaglardi spoke about the benefits of starting his business from scratch so he could full implement his vision for what a construction company should be. He also noted that embracing technology and other modern construction methods allowed Orion to ride a massive wave of industrial work. The company has seen immense growth, and in 2022 it earned the number one spot on the Globe and Mail’s Top Growing Companies. Orion also boasts a 100% retention rate as no employee has ever quit. 

While Orion’s initial rise was in industrial, he sees a great future in expanding into the residential market as well. 

“There’s so much passion in construction, and when you work in it there’s always this tangible asset, and there’s value in that,” said Gaglardi. “And right now, construction plays such a big part in both our economies, in B.C. and Alberta. I think it’s only going to play a bigger part as international immigration increases, housing increases, and industrial increases. The outcome is very optimistic for both markets.”

Gray explained that while B.C. has seen record-breaking apprenticeship registrations, the reality is that the true challenge is retaining them in the industry. She noted that the data shows many are still facing bullying, harassment and other negative behaviors on job sites and said that this must change. 

She shared the story of her neighbour, a young electrician, who quit the trades to go to school for business. 

“He said he just had gotten sick of the environment. I always worry for this sector because if we do anything to fix the culture, we will just lose people in the long run. It’s in one end, out the other,” she said. “We can’t get complacent just because we’re seeing those numbers come in.”

The crowd also heard from Mike Martens, who leads ICBA Alberta. He explained that with comprehensive and competitive group health and retirement benefit plans, an industry-leading workplace mental health and wellness program, innovative professional development and training courses, and strong advocacy, ICBA Alberta supports businesses of all sizes by drawing on the expertise and strength of our members to support innovation and a thriving construction industry.

From everyone at the SiteNews team, thank you for attending, and we hope to see you at our next event. 

Photos from the evening:

* Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a series of interviews conducted with winners of SiteNews’ recent awards program, Construction’s Most Influential People

As the first female president of RSG International and president of the Canadian Association of Women in Construction (CAWIC), Laronde isn’t just breaking down barriers for women in construction. She is obliterating them. Laronde is widely known for her passion around building psychologically safe work environments where diversity and inclusion are at the forefront. Her impact has gone far beyond just construction. Last year she was recognized by the Women’s Executive Network as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada. Check out our interview with Laronde to get her thoughts on leadership, golf, mentoring and more.

SiteNews: Is there one book, podcast, video or piece of content that you think everyone in construction should check out?

Lisa Laronde: I think anyone in leadership and construction should check out ‘No Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention’ by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer. It is almost like a guide to forward-thinking and outside-of-the box management practices, and it also makes a good argument as to why employees need to critique their leaders.

Did you have a mentor or role model early in your career? How did their guidance or example shape your path in construction?

To be honest, throughout my career, I didn’t have any mentors guiding me down my path. The urge to lead was developed at a young age, as was my drive. What I did have were examples of people I knew I just didn’t want to be like.

I was lucky to grow up with a strong and independent mother who taught me to fight for what I believe in and to stay true to my morals and ethics. She also taught me that a good sense of humour goes a long way. My mother has always been my role model; she instilled confidence in me, self-awareness, and a belief that I could do anything I could put my mind to, but she never allowed me to expect that it would necessarily be easy.

Believing in yourself is essential for overcoming barriers and setbacks and for pursuing ambitious career goals.

Along with my mother, I look to another powerful woman in my life, my Gen Z daughter, who has been my source of inspiration, and I am continually motivated by her remarkable journey as she sets an example of what is achievable.

At 24, she embarked on a journey to pursue a career in a foreign country. I have watched her navigate an unfamiliar language and social landscape with grace and determination. Observing her accomplishments professionally with confidence, integrity, and excellence ignites a sense of aspiration that motivates me to continue to be an advocate for gender equity and pushes me to continue to be an inspirational leader in the construction industry.

What was the biggest calculated risk you took in your career, and what were the rewards (or lessons learned) from that experience?

In 2015, I made the decision to leave my job to pursue a position at a company in a different industry that was located four hours away. My plan was to relocate after a year, but just one week before I was about to put an offer in on a house, I was fired. It was a tough blow, but one that taught me a valuable lesson: getting fired isn’t the end of the world.

To be honest, I had known deep down inside that the organization wasn’t the right fit for me, despite my efforts to make it work. I learned the importance of staying true to my core values and not compromising on what truly matters to me. And, in speaking with successful entrepreneurs, I have discovered that failure is often part of the journey to success. The experience taught me not to let the fear of failure hold me back from trying new things or speaking up for myself.

What advice would you give to your younger self, just starting out in your career?

Be confident, believe in yourself, take risks, be willing to fail, and when you do, pick yourself back up and try again. You will encounter challenges and obstacles, so surround yourself with people who believe in and support you. Don’t listen to the negative things people say or do.  When I stepped into an executive leadership position, I quickly realized the importance of learning golf. In the corporate arena, countless crucial deals and networking opportunities unfold on the green, and to be part of those discussions, I had to be out on the course. Learning the game wasn’t about becoming a pro; it was about levelling the playing field with my male counterparts. I often encourage women to learn the game, as I believe it fosters a sense of balance in leadership dynamics, and by participating in the traditionally male-dominated game, women can help dismantle barriers and foster mutual respect and inclusive decision-making processes.

Construction has the potential to be a force for good and these non-profits, social enterprises and charities are seizing that potential. They are tackling homelessness, cancer, housing, employment and much more. Check out our list below and let us know if there is a group that you think should be on our next list.

The Cypress Challenge (Glotman Simpson)

After his mother-in-law passed away from pancreatic cancer, Geoffrey Glotman, managing principal of engineering firm Glotman Simpson, decided to use his love of cycling to help others. the Cypress Challenge, a gruelling 12-km hill climb up Cypress Mountain in Metro Vancouver, was established to raise awareness and support with the hope that more funds for research will lead to improved outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients. To date it has raised nearly $4.5 million and become the largest privately funded fundraising event for pancreatic cancer in Canada and the largest community-based event for BC Cancer Foundation.

Building Up

Building Up is using construction to tackle multiple community issues at the same time. The social enterprise traces its roots back to BUILD Inc in Winnipeg, where a group of individuals recognized the impending surge in energy upgrading for Manitoba housing. Driven by a desire to bridge this work with communities striving to break the cycle of poverty, they established a non-profit business model. This approach not only addressed housing upgrades but also served as a platform for training and employing residents. Initially focusing on toilet retrofits for water conservation and plumbing training, Building Up gradually expanded its services and participant support. Today, Building Up boasts multiple businesses, a comprehensive program and training center, and a dedicated team of case managers, trades people and counsellors.

Play Forever

When Mohammed Al-Salem isn’t doing community benefits and relations work for EllisDon, he’s using those same skills to help oversee his own charity Play Forever. The organization is a non-profit providing structured and accessible recreation, education and mental health services to the youth of Toronto. Play Forever currently serves youth ages 8-29 with weekly programs, primarily focused on helping youth from marginalized communities and low-income families.

EMBERS

EMBERS is igniting hope for those looking to improve their lives by entering the workforce. The registered charity says its mission is to create economic and employment opportunities for people by providing them jobs, training, and support. Part of their work in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is providing construction training and connecting clients with jobs. Every year, EMBERS Staffing employs thousands of individuals from diverse backgrounds, placing them in short and long-term jobs. As a social enterprise, they invest 100% of profits back into the community in the form of worker support programs, higher hourly wages, free tool and equipment rentals and access to certified skills training opportunities. They are supported by someone Canada’s biggest contractors, including PCL, EllisDon, ITC Construction Group, Chandos and more.

Helmets to Hardhats

Transitioning from military life to civilian life can be hard. Helmets to Hardhats (H2H) Canada is making this transition easier. The registered non-profit organization has been providing second career opportunities within Canada’s Building Trade Unions to the military-affiliated community for over a decade. We ensure the military community is connected to careers with the best industry wages, benefits and pension plans. At the same time, Canada’s Unions and employers receive highly motivated, trained and dedicated employees to add to their workforce. H2H is recognized as a leading service provider by the Government of Ontario, the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada.

Working Gear

Why Working Gear Matters from Smart City Media on Vimeo.

Simply not having the right gear to step onto a construction site can be a massive barrier to someone looking to enter the workforce. Working Gear wants to change that. Working Gear is a volunteer-run charity located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. They provide industry-appropriate clothing and haircutting services to individuals experiencing unemployment or underemployment. This includes formal wear for an interview and construction gear for the job site.

BUILD

BUILD – an acronym for Building Urban Industries for Local Development – is an Indigenous social enterprise non-profit contractor and a training program for people who face barriers to employment. The Winnipeg-based group provides apartment turnover maintenance and renovations for landlords. Our work employs neighbourhood people, cuts crime, decreases EIA rates, and builds the next generation of the much-needed workforce.

New Commons Development

New Commons Development is a non-profit real estate development company that is taking a different approach to address Canada’s housing crisis. By partnering with non-profits, co-operatives, faith-based groups and the public sector, their goal is to develop affordable housing and social purpose real estate. New Commons Development earns a development fee through each project but they typically share this fee with its partners. This development fee is funded through the project so that their partners do not incur this cost as a direct expense. They have offices in Toronto and Vancouver.

Key Takeaways:

  • The measures would require menstrual products be provided on larger construction sites, keep washroom facilities clean and expand definitions of workplace harassment to include online environments.
  • If passed, Ontario would be the first province in Canada to have a menstrual product policy for women in construction.
  • Female construction leaders praised the changes but believe more work needs to be done to support underrepresented groups in the sector.

The Whole Story:

Ontario is poised to make Canadian history with new legislation that would require menstrual products on construction sites.

The province announced that it is introducing the Working for Workers Five Act, 2024 which contains a suite of measures to support workers, including requiring that menstrual products be provided on larger construction sites and mandating that washrooms are clean and sanitary. Officials say the legislation is the first of its kind in Canada and would make the skilled trades more accessible to women.

“Under Premier Ford, our government is tackling the generational labour shortage previous governments left in their wake. That means we need all hands on deck – but when women represent only one in ten workers in the skilled trades, we have one hand tied behind our back,” said David Piccini, minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development. “That’s why our government is introducing first-in-Canada changes to encourage women to start a career in the skilled trades and reach their full potential. Because an economy that doesn’t work for women doesn’t work at all.”

Ontario’s proposed amendments would also add virtual harassment to the definitions of workplace harassment and workplace sexual harassment in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, ensuring that workplace policies to address harassment in the workplace also cover digital environments.

The government also plans to engage with survivors of harassment, legal experts and other stakeholders to identify the most effective legislative or regulatory means to create a duty to act for employers where investigations have identified workplace harassment has occurred.

Female construction leaders believe the conversation around women’s periods is long overdue.

Jamie West, a board director at the Canadian Association of Women in Construction and president of Peninsula Construction, was supportive of the measures but believes this is just the beginning of a broader effort needed to support women and other underrepresented groups. 

“I think it is a bit alarming that in 2024 we are talking about this like it’s a breakthrough, like it is a luxury,” she said. “We need to start normalizing conversations around periods and menstrual products and start seeing that they are an unavoidable part of our life and access to these products should be like accessing toilet paper or soap, especially on a work site in tricky environments. Having access to these products can eliminate the stress and embarrassment women can feel.” 

West explained that female health issues are rarely discussed in the industry, noting that most women do not know exactly when their period is coming which can leave them unprepared. As a result they are forced to improvise with Kleenex, toilet paper or whatever else is on hand.

She added that women also often hide when an issue arises and do not seek assistance for fear of being mocked or bullied. This is all compounded when working on a remote site where proper washroom facilities might not be available. 

West also expressed support for measures that expand the definition of workplace harassment to include virtual spaces. She noted that this provides clarity around bullying and harassment through email, texts, chat services and other digital methods. 

“Expanding that definition is important. It protects workers by ensuring labour laws and policies are applicable to all work settings,” she said. 

West noted that it is just the start of the conversation around protecting minorities and vulnerable groups. She explained that another step in the right direction would be including menstrual products in all bathrooms: male, female or unisex. This would support transgender workers, adding that construction is one of the largest employers of transgender people. 

“Once we normalize periods, have these conversations and have access to these products, we are going to mitigate some of the embarrassment and stress women face in the workplace,” she said.  

Additional measures to address safety in construction will include a comprehensive review of critical injuries and fatalities in the construction sector and a consultation on expanding the types of life-saving equipment, such as defibrillators, to be provided on construction projects.

Government officials visit an Ontario construction site to announce new legislation that aims to support women on the job site.

* Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a series of interviews conducted with winners of SiteNews’ recent awards program, Construction’s Most Influential People. Get tickets to our winners’ event in Calgary, May 15, here.

Tannis Liviniuk, digital advance executive for Zachry Group, has been on an epic professional journey. Her construction career started on the job site where she spent more than a decade as a tradesperson and doing construction planning. While her friends spent their weekends socializing, she was learning how to mobilize and demobilize cranes, rig material, and manage logistics.She went on to start a consulting firm Trillium, Advisory Group, which was eventually acquired by Zachry Group.

Liviniuk is also an outspoken voice in the industry. She regularly offers up her construction knowledge as a keynote speaker and podcast guest, giving her thoughts on leadership and technology. We spoke with her about her thoughts on digitization in the construction sector and how one can improve their communication skills.

SiteNews: As someone who started their career on the job site, how does this hands-on experience inform your digital strategies at Zachry Group?

Liviniuk: The great thing about having spent so much of my career on-site is that I am comfortable putting on a pair of work boots and sitting down with crews to have genuine conversations about digital opportunities. These conversations enable me to better understand the perspectives, needs, and expectations our employees have of or digital project delivery solutions.

Having worked on site, I have empathy for the challenges of on-site work (network access, changing project conditions, weather, etc.). Our employees who manage these challenges everyday have the best viewpoint for technology opportunities. No one wants to do a job in 10 steps when it can be done in 3. By spending time with these skilled professionals, and gaining their input, I can help identify timely and practical opportunities for digital enhancement.

Ultimately, my hands-on experience doesn’t drive our digital project delivery strategies at Zachry Group; the hands-on experience of our employees does. My focus is on helping our project teams identify and capture digital opportunities, then on building bridges with our technology teams. These bridges enable all of us to co-create strategies and solutions which help us continuously deliver the best value for our customers on every project we execute.

What is your advice for companies that want to sort out the “tech hype” from the real business solutions?

It’s so easy to get caught up in technology hype. In fact, it’s difficult not to. The technology space is moving so quickly; it seems almost daily I’m sent an article or video by someone which makes me say ‘wow, that is impressive!’ But some teams get too caught up in the hype and adopt a ‘whatever’s exciting’ approach to technology investment. This hype-focused approach can result in large expenditures with little noticeable benefit, and a team left wondering what went wrong.

Companies need to balance tech evolution with tech experimentation. Technology should augment business processes. Teams should be consistently refining their processes, identifying automation opportunities, defining business requirements to support those opportunities, and evolving their technology architecture to support. This is a defined process and one that most large organizations (and many mid-sized ones) already employ and execute well.

However, teams can be too rigid in their focus on evolution as well. To be competitive in today’s market, companies must be consistently scouting new and emerging solutions, and experimenting with new technology to identify the value potential. Teams can’t appropriately evaluate technology if they aren’t familiar with the technology that’s available. In some instances, team members may not even realize that there’s technology available to automate a process. Experimentation is a critical step in advancing the evolution of technology at a pace that doesn’t leave the team in the stone age.

My advice to teams is to be active in the technology ecosystem to be become better informed. Develop strong relationships with technology companies, attend industry events, seek out user stories to understand the experience of others, and read industry news updates. If your technology approach is to wait to explore until you need it, you’re going to be so far behind the industry knowledge base that it will be almost impossible to make good technology decisions. Being well informed is the best way for teams to sort out the ‘tech hype’ from real business solutions.

What sort of new or emerging digital tools have you excited?

I feel like the answer everyone wants to hear is AI. And don’t get me wrong. AI is going to have a big impact on our industry. But there are still foundational elements that the industry is working on establishing and deploying to support AI, and other advanced technologies.

I’m excited about technology that has the potential to positively impact teams today, addressing real pain-points through the application of practical software and hardware solutions. First is the significant shift toward platforms. The multitude of point solutions that teams are deploying is causing tech fatigue. And trying to tie them all together, and keep them connected, can be costly and create a resource strain on IT. The industry is moving heavily towards deploying platforms that serve as the foundation for project operations, where platform ecosystem applications can then be deployed or even developed. This approach supports the standardization of project management and execution processes, while enabling specific app deployments and citizen development to support each unique project’s needs.

The second technology I’m excited about is Bluetooth enabled tools, such as torque wrenches, hydro gauges, and handheld equipment. These tools, and their associated mobile applications, provide users with step-by-step coaching on each task, with visual aids. We keep hearing about skilled labor shortages, and the projected increases in resource shortages in North America. Bluetooth-enabled tools help support resource upskilling at scale. Further, these tools measure and record each action taken, therefore eliminating manual observations and paper-based workflows.

Third is incentive-based performance solutions. There is a startup working on aligning construction craft incentives with those of project contracts, thereby driving faster completion of tasks with improved quality and reduced safety incidents. This is the first organization I have seen really trying to tackle this incentive alignment challenge that is structurally rooted in the construction industry; they are making some bold moves in both the financial technology (fintech) and construction technology (contech) spaces.

And fourth is robotics. The advancement in the robotics space in the past two years has been remarkable. While I don’t see robots taking on full-time jobs on construction sites anytime soon, I am a huge advocate of their application in environments that pose hazards to people. Those are the activities that I expect to see robots tackling on a large number of construction sites very shortly.

As a keynote speaker and a podcaster, what would be your advice for someone in the industry who wants to improve their communication skills?

I do a lot of public speaking; I get asked this question often. And my answer probably sounds quite non-traditional. My first piece of advice to anyone wanting to improve their public speaking skills is to practice storytelling. Your entire presentation needs to tell a clear and succinct story if the audience is going to engage with and remember it. Start planning your presentation by framing a story (beginning, middle, and end) and then fitting all your highlighted key points onto a story board. Once you have all of that together, read it to someone and ask them to summarize the story back to you. If all they took away was a few key points and stats, and they can’t thread them together to summarize your story, then you need to keep working on your storytelling skills.

My second piece of advice is to take acting classes; improv classes are the best. I grew up on stage. I went to a performing arts school in junior and senior high. One of my most foundational communication skills is being able to speak to a live crowd and react to an audience on my feet. Whether you’re comfortable with public speaking or not, everyone can gain confidence, improve enunciation skills, and hone their ability to think and react in the moment by taking acting classes. Channel your inner thespian!

My third piece of advice is to just be yourself. Too many professionals think they need to create a public persona to be an effective communicator. Trust me; your audience wants to get to know you, not a carefully crafted version of you. Tell your story, be vulnerable, and share your real thoughts on topics that matter in your industry. The level of engagement in a presentation that is genuine is exponentially greater than a presentation that is canned or scripted to the point that you don’t feel like you’re getting to know the real presenter.

We aren’t aware of any art galleries for construction, but SiteViews is the next best thing. We have gorgeous shots of sunsets, icy plunges, big thumbs up and more for the latest edition of SiteViews. If you have a construction photo that you think deserve a spot on our next list, let us know.

Townline

Lemmy enforces safety rules at the shop for 40-year-old B.C. developer Townline. No PPE? Lemmy just might chew you out (literally).

Sideros Ironworks

Who said construction has to be so serious? The crew at Sideros hams it up for the camera after a rainy pizza lunch break.

Clark Builders

The Coronation Sports & Recreation Centre continues to take shape with the installation of the rose gold stainless steel shingles. The complex geometry, mimicking the shape of a twisting ribbon, has made for a challenging installation, but Clark says its cladding team has risen to the occasion. To date, crews have installed about 2,000 interlocking shingles over the curved surface.

Locarno Legacy / Axiom Builders

Axiom‘s team install a crane at The Lydia, new rental housing and retail space to Main Street and East 24th Avenue. In case the iconic skyline and mountains didn’t give it away, the project is in Vancouver.

BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association

We hope they packed lots of snacks and tunes. The BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association embarked on an epic trip for its RoadShow last month. The journey will take a specially modified trailer across the province to help aspiring workers simulate careers in highway maintenance and road building.

WestEnd Connectors Construction

The Eglinton Crosstown West Extension project has hit two major milestones – Rexy, one of the team’s tunnel boring machines, has completed 6 kilometres of tunnelling so far. The other tunnel boring machine, Renny, has completed just over 5.3 km.

Surerus Murphy Joint Venture

This heavy equipment operator isn’t just being friendly. He’s communicating to others on site that he can see them and they can enter the area. The Thumbs Up Program has been implemented on all of Surerus Murphy Joint Venture‘s sites.

Ledcor

Ledcor Construction’s Saskatoon team recently participated in the 2024 Polar Bear Plunge at Lac La Ronge to support Men’s Mental Health awareness. The event successfully fundraised $8,000 for outreach programs and essential resources for Northern communities.

Dawson Civil

This Dawson Civil worker isn’t standing near any old pile of dirt. Last summer, while working on a road rehabilitation and realignment project of Dunn Lake Road just north of Barriere, B.C., a damaged den filled with garter snakes was discovered. With the help of experts, crews began reconstructing a new den for the snakes, further away from the highway. All the snakes were saved.

Construction Foundation of British Columbia

Tradespeople were passing down their knowledge at the Young Women in Trades camp in Fort St. John, B.C.

Borger Group of Companies

A trio of equipment operators move earth under a moody sky at a Borger site.

Magil Construction

Magil‘s team takes in the solar eclipse from the 47th floor of its Le George project.

The Shot of the Month goes to:

Kiewit

Vancouver’s G3 Terminal, a next-generation grain export facility, soaks up some sunset rays. The facility was engineered, procured, constructed and commissioned by Kiewit.

* Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a series of interviews conducted with winners of SiteNews’ recent awards program, Construction’s Most Influential People.

Unke is relentless. Not only is he heavily involved in mentoring, networking, industry groups and events. His LinkedIn presence is staggering. He has amassed more than 33,000 followers and regularly posts his advice on how to navigate the construction sector as an engineer. After serving in senior-level roles at some of the largest engineering firms in the country, Unke was named CEO and president of Maven Consulting in 2023.

And if that wasn’t enough, he also climbs mountains every weekend while chatting with other industry professionals. Did we mention he even builds lowriders?

We caught up with Unke to chat about his passion for giving back to the next generation of construction professionals and what goes into building a personal brand.

SiteNews: You have built up a sizable following on LinkedIn. What would be your advice for others who are looking to grow their personal brand? 

Unke: I think authenticity is key. Being true to yourself, and the content you put out on LinkedIn is important, as people can see through someone who is posting for the likes. I also try to share content that is interactive, and people can gain value from (industry news, events, and insights).

SiteNews: Are there any authors, leaders or colleagues that have influenced your professional life in a profound way? If so, who and why? 

Unke: I have read a lot of Brian Tracy and Simon Sinek books, and had a very inspirational and supportive mentor when I started my career in engineering consulting at Binnie (Michael Richardson, past CEO, now retired). Michael was always there to answer my questions, and give me insight into what it means to be an executive leader. Michael’s guidance and friendship really helped set me up for success and making my way up the corporate ladder to now be a CEO of a consulting firm.

SiteNews: What are some ways that industry veterans like yourself can mentor and assist up-and-coming construction professionals? 

Unke: Make time to have respectful, honest and real conversations with junior folks in our industry, and leverage your relationships in your network to make introductions for these folks.

SiteNews: If you could go back in time and talk to yourself early in your career, what advice would you give? 

Unke: Trust your gut. Take more calculated risks. No one actually knows exactly what they are doing. Work smart, not hard.

Jesse Unke (right) hikes the mountains of B.C.

* Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a series of interviews conducted with winners of SiteNews’ recent awards program, Construction’s Most Influential People.

Some people talk about doing something, and others simply go do it. Alaa Abdelhamid felt like construction workers needed more of a spotlight to tell their stories and get the recognition they deserve. Rather than wait for someone else to take action, he did it himself.

Abdelhamid began his mission to unearth and celebrate the stories of construction workers and companies by staking out coffee shops and hardware stores. His media brand, Behind the Hard Hat, now has dozens of interviews with blue collar workers and the effort has amassed Abdelhamid more than 20,000 followers on LinkedIn. His videos have garnered millions of views and prompted him to launch a web-based platform where construction workers can share their stories and highlight the unsung heroes of the construction sector.

SiteNews: Early on, your work with Behind the Hard Hat involved approaching strangers to ask for interviews. Did this make you nervous and if so, how were you able to overcome it?

Abdelhamid: Yes, I was very nervous and stressed. Doubts would creep into my head like oh what if I get rejected? what if I pitch it to them and they laugh or think this is stupid? A lot of what ifs, but I remind myself of the mission and why I started this, the long-term goal, and convince myself that what I’m feeling is a short-term feeling that will go away and is not important in the grand scheme of things.

SiteNews: How have your interview skills grown as you have gotten more videos under your belt and what sort of lessons have you learned about what makes for a good interview?

Abdelhamid: In the beginning, I was shy about asking direct questions right away and bringing up topics like mental health. I would have a 20-minute conversation that would lead up to my question. It’s like setting the stage and slowly building up but that would often take a lot of time and get exhausting. As I interviewed more workers, and my confidence built up, I would not waste time and ask what I was thinking right away, and if the person was not comfortable speaking about a certain topic I would not pressure them.

A good interview is one that you would not feel is an interview. It’s almost like a story, you would watch it and feel that this person was talking to you as if they knew you and were drinking a cup of double-double coffee with you on-site every morning.

What elements are critical for a compelling piece of content?

Abdelhamid: This might seem cliche, but authenticity. My best videos came from workers who were real – meaning they did not care that the camera was on or how people were going to perceive them, they were going to tell it as it is. Unfiltered and raw.

If you could book an interview with anyone in the construction sector, who would it be and why?

Abdelhamid: It would be my dad, as he inspired me to pursue to a career in construction. He worked in the mechanical sector of the industry since he was 13.

Why do you think it is important to share stories about construction workers?

Abdelhamid: It’s important because it spreads awareness and appreciation towards the people who build our cities and communities. Often cameras and spotlights are on athletes as they are looked at as a source of entertainment and motivation as they work hard to be in shape and produce at a high level, but construction workers work harder and in my opinion, have a great sense of humor too but no one was able to highlight and celebrate them before or give them a platform to speak and share their voice and views on topics. Why do we listen to athletes but not to the people who built our world?

Kevin Read is now senior director of offsite solutions for Bird Construction. Prior to entering the modular space in 2012, Read spent years working in product design, quality assurance, process automation, corporate strategy, and business development in the construction and energy industries.

Luke Forrest is the new vice president of sales for Bridgit. Forrest previously spent five years in various roles at Autodesk. 

David Podmore, chair of Concert Properties, has announced his retirement from the company’s board this summer. The board plans to name a new chair in the coming weeks.

We have achieved a great deal over the years. Among our accomplishments, we have built over 13,800 homes, which include 1,450 assured and affordable homes, with approximately 9,000 more in our development pipeline. Additionally, we currently own and manage over 13 million square feet of industrial and commercial properties. Through Concert Infrastructure, we have invested in, developed and now manage 10 essential Canadian public infrastructure projects. And perhaps most importantly, we have also earned an excellent reputation. This legacy is one that I am truly proud of.

David Podmore, chair, Concert Properties

Sina Khamenehi is starting a new role at ETRO Construction as a project manager. He is well versed in civil engineering, project/construction management, and building information modeling. He joins ETRO after similar roles at Axiom Builders, Chandos Construction and Urban One Builders. 

Sean Penn has been named Chandos Construction’s new CEO. Officials stated that Penn’s career at Chandos spans over 20 years, from his years working as a carpenter to his tenure as chief operating officer (COO). They noted that he has showcased leadership and an “unwavering commitment” to Chandos’ core values of inclusion, collaboration, innovation, and courage. 

In 2020, Chandos COO Sean Penn embarked on a two-month road trip to visit job sites.

Steven Crombie has joined the Ontario Road Builders’ Association as its new senior, director, public affairs. The association said Crombie is a seasoned public affairs professional with industry association and government experience. He brings a unique blend of heavy civil construction and policy expertise.

Katie Kohlenberg has been hired as manager, project development and collaborative delivery at Bird Construction. Previously, Kohlenberg served as director of operations, senior IPD coach and senior sustainability project lead at EcoAmmo Sustainable Consulting. 

Troy Glasner has started a new position at Focal Engineering as a senior energy analyst and project manager. Focal said Glasner is an industry veteran with a long history of breaking new ground in building sustainability.

Jason Thorne has joined Stantec’s Urban Places practice as a sector leader for Canada. Thorne brings over two decades of planning and community development. In the last decade, Thorne served as the City of Hamilton’s general manager of planning and economic development.

Mike Snow is starting a new position as chief operating officer for Lacroix Construction. Previously, Snow spent 12 years at TESC Contracting Company where he achieved the general manager position.  

Kelly Pelton is retiring from his role as vice president, supply chain at EECOL Electric after 25 years of service. His role will be taken over by Natalia Sershun who has held senior roles in contract management and supply chain at Suncor, Sanjel, and most recently, Graham Construction.

Irvin Heiber is celebrating 30 years with PCL construction. He joined PCL in 1989 as a district engineer. As a construction manager, he is currently overseeing a large and complex building and envelope retrofit in Gatineau and starting up the recently awarded RSS Main Labs project.

Omar AL-Humaimidi announced that he is now quality director for the Surrey Langley SkyTrain Station Contract at Aecon Group.

Claire Macdonald has been promoted to asset manager for Low Tide Properties. Her previous role was asset management analyst. She has been with the company for more than four years.  

Hung Nguyen is Axiom Builders’ latest superintendent. Previously, Nguyen worked at Anthem Properties as an assistant superintendent. 

Patrick Crabbe, Shaun Stiles and Jon Higgins have joined the Off-site Construction Research Centre at the University of New Brunswick as executive board members. Crabbe is director of mass timber at Bird Construction, Stiles is senior vice president and area manager for EllisDon and Higgins is VP Canadian operations for Stack Modular.

Silvia Koteva has joined Infrastructure BC as a senior associate. Koteva brings years of infrastructure experience focused on leading major health infrastructure projects through the business case phase of work, integrated capital planning, contract negotiation, and managing complex federal funding programs.

Dear reader, our team is planning an evening of drinks, food and networking in Calgary next month to celebrate Construction’s Most Influential People and we want you to join us. We aren’t just saying that. We mean it. Follow this link and use the code PEOPLEMOVES for 20% off tickets.

After weeks of going through submissions, SiteNews has finally revealed its list of inspiring construction leaders who are influencing Canadian construction for the better. 

Construction’s Most Influential People, a new annual awards program, recognizes individuals across all sectors who significantly impact Canadian construction. Nominees can be of any age and hold any position, as long as their work benefits the built environment. Nominations were self-submitted or made on behalf of others, with details on why the nominee deserves recognition. Winners were selected by a panel of staff from SiteNews.

The list of over 50 individuals includes builders, CEOs, educators, architects, lawyers, association leaders, social media stars and more. 

“Construction is powered by people, whether they are behind a desk or on the jobsite,” said Russell Hixson, SiteNews editor. “And construction is more important than ever, whether it’s creating data centres that power AI, roads that carry our goods, transit for commuters or affordable housing to ease the affordability crisis. We want to make sure the men and women doing this work get the recognition they deserve.”

The Most Influential list comes off the heels of SiteNews’ other awards program, the 25 Innovators in Construction Awards which sought out the industry’s most cutting edge companies. The SiteNews team explained that the latest awards program is part of a broader strategy to equip, educate and elevate the construction sector.

“The public rarely hears about the immense skill and passion that goes into creating the built environment that they live in,” said Brett Rutledge, SiteNews co-founder. “This is just another way that we can highlight the incredible work that the industrial sector does, and the people behind it. Congratulations to all the winners. We see you and you are appreciated.” 

See the full list of winners here.

SiteNews plans to celebrate the winners at an exclusive event for winners and other industry leaders. There are a limited number of  tickets still available for purchase. Secure your spot using this link

Build a Dream is a national non-profit organization founded by workforce advisor, mentor, and influencer Nour Hachem. It advances diversity and inclusion initiatives for skilled trades and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers.

Since getting its start in 2014 in Windsor, Ont., Build a Dream has delivered programs to inspire young women to pursue work in historically male-dominated fields. We spoke with Hachem about how the industry can attract more women and what barriers they face in the construction sector.

SiteNews: Tell me about the work Build a Dream does and what motivated you to start it.

Nour Hachem: Build a Dream is committed to empowering women and underrepresented groups to explore diverse career paths, particularly in skilled trades, Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM), Entrepreneurship, and Emergency Response fields. Through comprehensive mentorship programs, immersive career expos, and hands-on workshops, we strive to dismantle barriers and provide youth with the confidence and skills necessary for successful futures in these industries.

My journey into the skilled trades industry was deeply influenced by my mother’s determination to excel in a male-dominated field. Witnessing her perseverance ignited my passion for challenging societal norms and advocating for gender equality. Through my extensive career in workforce development and as a woman from a racialized community, I realized the urgent need to address the barriers preventing women from pursuing rewarding careers in skilled trades, STEAM, Entrepreneurship, and Emergency Response fields. This realization fueled my commitment to founding Build a Dream and we are thrilled to be celebrating our 10th anniversary on April 27th at Caesars Windsor. It’ll be a time to highlight the meaningful work we have accomplished over the last ten years with our community, partners, and supporters. Tickets are still available for purchase on our website

SiteNews: What do you think are some of the root causes of women not choosing skilled trades, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers?

Hachem: There are several factors, including limited access to training programs, deeply ingrained societal stereotypes, and pervasive biases within educational and workplace environments. To effectively address these challenges, it’s essential to advocate for comprehensive STEAM education from an early age, promote hands-on learning experiences that spark interest and confidence in young women, and establish robust support networks offering mentorship and guidance tailored to their unique needs. 

We were thrilled to see an investment in our young people in Ontario’s 2024 budget. We welcome these measures that support skills development and apprenticeships for Ontario’s youth, such as expanding access to skilled trades training centers and investing in programs like the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program. By prioritizing access to mentorship and skills training programs for equity-deserving groups, including women, we can take significant strides towards building a workforce that reflects Canada’s rich diversity.

SiteNews: Why don’t we see more women in leadership roles in these fields?

Hachem: The underrepresentation of women in leadership roles is rooted in systemic barriers such as pervasive gender biases, limited accessible pathways for advancement, and a lack of representation at decision-making levels. To address this disparity, proactive measures such as implementing robust diversity and inclusion policies, fostering more mentorship opportunities for aspiring female leaders, and amplifying the success stories of women in these fields are crucial. We need to dismantle these barriers so that we can pave the way for more equitable representation. 

Heike Delmore Photography

Our Union Training and Innovation Program (UTIP), funded by a grant from ESDC (Employment and Social Development Canada), aims to boost women’s leadership through initiatives like the Apprenticeship Incubator, which uses virtual reality simulators for skills development, and the #PowerUP Skills program, which provides hands-on experiences. Additionally, our You’re Hired Road Show will facilitate connections between jobseekers and employers, particularly benefiting those without preexisting connections in the industry. 

SiteNews: What sort of impact did your mother have on your attitudes/thinking towards women in the workplace?

Hachem: My mother’s resilience and achievements in a male-dominated field deeply influenced my attitudes towards gender equality in the workplace. Witnessing her determination to succeed played a pivotal role in shaping my commitment to empowering women and creating opportunities for their representation in traditionally male-dominated industries, culminating in the establishment of Build a Dream—a platform dedicated to fostering gender diversity and equity.

SiteNews: As a working mom, tell me about some of the challenges female leaders face when they are starting a family. 

Hachem: Female leaders encounter numerous challenges when starting a family, primarily centered around balancing work and family responsibilities. Juggling demanding professional roles with childcare duties can often lead to feelings of guilt and stress. Supportive policies such as flexible work arrangements, comprehensive childcare assistance, and extended parental leave are crucial in easing this burden. That’s why, Build a Dream is urging both the provincial and federal governments to provide subsidies and incentives for businesses to establish on-site childcare facilities, recognizing the vital role affordable childcare plays in supporting women’s participation in the workforce. This aligns with the recently launched provincial budget’s focus on building, expanding, and renewing schools and childcare spaces, demonstrating a commitment to supporting working parents. Additionally, the federal government also recently announced measures from the upcoming Budget 2024 to build more affordable childcare spaces. This is another significant step toward addressing the childcare needs of tradespeople and supporting their continued participation in the industry.

SiteNews: What has your experiences as a workforce advisor, mentor and influencer taught you about motivating women to choose trades and STEM careers?

Hachem: I’ve learned that motivating women to pursue careers in trades and STEAM fields requires more than just encouragement—it demands tangible support, hands-on learning opportunities, and targeted mentorship programs. Our WAGE program addresses this need by offering a comprehensive mentorship program where participants are matched with experienced mentors who provide valuable insights tailored to their goals and challenges. Through networking opportunities and skill-building workshops, mentees gain the confidence and connections needed to feel empowered to explore their interests. Additionally, highlighting the real-world impact and opportunities for growth within these industries can inspire women to pursue rewarding careers in trades and STEAM. 

SiteNews: What things are companies and leaders doing right when it comes to recruiting and retaining female workers in trades/STEM careers?

Hachem: Companies are making great strides in recruiting and retaining female workers in trades and STEAM careers by recognizing the importance of early outreach and education programs. Additionally, we have seen that offering more apprenticeship and training opportunities that are tailored to women’s needs, promoting inclusive policies that create supportive work environments, and providing ongoing mentorship, all contribute to attracting and retaining more female talent. However, there’s more to be done. 

Our industry case studies, a cornerstone of our Women in Skilled Trades (WIST) project, offer a unique opportunity for forward-thinking companies. With limited spots available, fifteen organizations across Canada will have a chance to showcase their commitment to gender equity and workplace inclusivity. We want to highlight inclusive hiring practices, supportive workplace cultures, and leadership development initiatives. These organizations are the ones leading the conversation and by showcasing their success stories, we aim to inspire other companies to adopt similar approaches, ultimately increasing the presence of women in Red Seal trades and reshaping the skilled trades landscape.

SiteNews: How can men support women who choose to enter predominantly male fields like construction?  

Hachem: Male allies can play a pivotal role by actively advocating for inclusivity and challenging gender biases within their workplaces. Beyond that, providing tangible support such as mentorship to female colleagues, fostering a culture of respect and equality, and actively creating opportunities for women to highlight their skills and leadership capabilities are crucial steps in breaking down barriers and creating a more inclusive industry landscape. 

From precarious circumstances to the helm of one of Canada’s largest and most innovative general contractors, Tim Coldwell’s journey has been nothing short of remarkable. Now, he’s done something even more surprising—he’s reinvented himself once again.

“Over my years at Chandos, I have reinvented myself several times,” he wrote in a farewell message months ago. “Having the courage to do so has been an important part of my story. But this time, the reinvention could only happen outside of Chandos, the company that has given me so much. Having accomplished my goals at Chandos, it is time to reinvent myself once again. And so, I depart Chandos to write my next chapter.”

During his tenure, Coldwell was a driving force propelling the company to the forefront of progressive contract models such as IPD. His legacy includes working with the team to take the company national and more than doubling enterprise value all while pioneering social procurement and spearheading Chandos’ achievement as the largest B-Corp certified national technical builder in the world.

What prompted the urge to reinvent himself? Coldwell explained that as a 41-year-old man reconnecting with his Indigenous roots, he found his worldview beginning to change. He wanted to have an impact on the world that went beyond his seat in a corporate boardroom. 

Indigenous Roots

Coldwell didn’t know about his Indigenous heritage growing up. 

“It wasn’t something we talked about,” he said. “In 1985, Bill C-31 was passed to abolish enfranchisement and restore status to those who had lost status through enfranchisement. As a result, I gained status as a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. It was my aunt who told me stories about my ancestors. I am a direct descendant of several prominent Mohawk leaders who shaped Canada”

Coldwell explained that his family and many of my friends wanted him to follow in the steps of his father, uncle and grandfather to become a member of the clergy. 

“I’ve always had an appreciation for people who dedicate their lives in service to others,” he said. “But the clergy wasn’t for me. I wondered if I could be of service in other ways. Most importantly, I wanted to be true to myself.”

After finding work at a lumber mill, it was the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte that gave him his first big break: a scholarship to attend engineering at the University of Alberta which he used to launch his career at Chandos. But that disconnection from his Indigenous roots lingered from his childhood. 

“It’s like gravity. There is this pull that makes me want to learn the culture that I had been separated from,” said Coldwell. “Many Indigenous people have a spiritual connection to the land. I remember fly fishing in the Grand River for the first time and standing on Forester’s Island in Tyendinaga where my grandparents once lived. There is a powerful sense of connection to ‘this place’ that comes over me. It’s hard to explain.”

He explained that the folks at the First Nations Technical Institute in Tyendinaga treated him like a long lost family member.

“They introduced me to Chief Don Maracle who signed the letter that changed my life by telling me the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte would support my education,” said Coldwell. “I took my family to their first Pow Wow at Six Nations. I met cousins that I never knew I had. There is no question that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for help from the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. I’ve got to pay that forward the best I know how.”

Coldwell is now on a journey to learn Indigenous values and ways of being. 

“A colonial worldview is rooted in the idea of ownership – ‘that’s mine’,” says Coldwell. “An Indigenous worldview says these things are shared – it’s ours. Colonialism measures status and prestige by what you own and what you accumulate. For traditional Indigenous people, status and prestige is about what you give away to your community. Think about that. I’m starting to get my head around it.” 

He explained that unlike Western society, which believes each child is born with rights, the Mohawk believe that each person is born with a number of responsibilities.

“To themselves, to their families, to their Nation and to the natural and spiritual worlds around them,” said Coldwell. “You don’t have any rights until you have fulfilled your responsibilities. A colonial worldview is ‘me first’ while an Indigenous perspective is ‘others first’.”

Make What Matters

When thinking about his reinvention, Coldwell had lots of options. But he knew he wanted to continue his mission to use business as a force for good. The answer came after meeting legendary businessman and “Dragon’s Den” investor Wes Hall who Coldwell got to know after being named a Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year in 2021. 

“Wes’ story is amazing,” said Coldwell. Hall grew up in a tin shack in Jamaica. Every day, he went to school barefoot because his family couldn’t afford to buy him shoes. After moving to Toronto as a teenager, Hall got a job in the mailroom of a prominent law firm and went on to found Kingsdale Advisors and many other businesses. Beyond his business success, Hall has used his connections and influence to combat systemic racism. 

“I knew I would learn a lot from Wes, so I sought him out and we started chatting about the idea of a real estate advisory business that would use the power of real estate supply chains to build a more inclusive society, a society where nobody is left behind,” said Coldwell. “What if we could reduce development costs for our clients and address Canada’s skilled trade shortage by using supply chains to bring hope and opportunity to thousands of youth? What if we did that?”

The result is Énska Advisors, a new venture the pair are launching this week. The word Énska means “one” in Mohawk and has layered meaning. He explained that a fundamental Mohawk value is being of “one mind” when making decisions, the idea of having one life to live, the realization that we are all one. “We chose this name because one person, project, or company can start a movement and because we recognize that we can’t do it alone,” said Coldwell. “True systemic change only occurs when we do it together, as one.”

Building a Legacy

Coldwell explains that the value proposition of the firm is simple. Énska reduces development costs while simultaneously delivering third-party verified social and environmental outcomes at zero premium cost. This allows the firm’s clients to confidently report project benefits. “Doing the right thing often comes with a price tag,” says Coldwell. “Énska plans and governs the project so there is no premium.” Énska Advisors has three primary service offerings:

  • Real Estate Advisory – Site selection, project business case development, obtaining funding and developing supply chain strategies to reduce costs and maximize impact.
  • Project Governance – Assembling high-performing teams and governing projects with visionary leaders who have executive presence and industry knowledge. 
  • Indigenous Capital – Accelerating economic self-determination by advising First Nations entering the real estate, construction or clean energy businesses.

The firm has also adopted what they call the “Fifty by 50” initiative to address Canada’s skilled trades shortage. Coldwell and Hall’s goal is to start a movement that provides 50,000 youth by 2050 with the same life-changing opportunities they received. Coldwell believes that he isn’t just trying to build a company. He is trying to build a legacy that will be making a difference long after he is gone in keeping with Indigenous teachings. 

“There is a concept called the Seven Generation Principle,” says Coldwell. “It’s this idea that the decisions you make today should benefit your descendants seven generations in the future. “I’m a big fan of the musical Hamilton. There’s this line at the end, ‘And when my time is up, have I done enough? Will they tell my story?’ I’m interested in asking, ‘what must we do today so people living seven generations from now will tell our story in a good way?’”

Coldwell wants to measure his life by impact.

“This idea of impacting 50,000 youth by 2050 is the kind of life goal I can get behind,” he said. “I’d like my tombstone to say, ‘loving husband, father and business leader who proved that you can be wildly successful by using business as a force for good.’ Too many people get trapped in either/or thinking. Purpose or profit. There is a way to have both. Purpose and profit. We only have one life to live. Let’s make it matter.”

When you’re trying to navigate the municipal requirements, zoning, setbacks and consultant requirements, the nuances can be overwhelming.

You can get tied up in bureaucracy and red tape. It seems to get more complicated every year, and things don’t seem to be getting any easier.

“It used to be a lot simpler when I started, but the times have changed and we have to adapt to the new environment,” explained Dave Krahn, president and CEO of Krahn Group. “The number of consultants that are required for development permits and building permit applications—and the number of applications and submissions that need to be made, for something as simple as an industrial warehouse—have increased significantly. This is a combination of more governing bodies, increased regulations and the complexity of the sites and projects that we now work on.”   

Vast experience 

Dave knows this better than most. After founding Krahn engineering in 1984, he spent decades working as a structural engineer and saw how his projects would be held up by permit wait times and all the upfront consulting and coordination work that needed to be done.  

“If we started to provide these other consulting services and have more of them in-house we could at least make this consulting work be as fast and efficient as possible, making the process simple for our clients, while also helping build our relationships with the cities and governing bodies,” said Krahn.

Over the years, Krahn started to add different disciplines to form the Krahn Group, which now encompasses Architecture (with KP Architecture Ltd), Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Civil, Landscape and Building Performance. They are a multi-disciplinary consulting company providing services to the development and construction industry across Canada. They have decades of experience in industrial, self-storage, commercial, multifamily and institutional projects.

Dave Krahn, president and CEO of Krahn Group

“I wanted to provide a truly simple process for developers and contractors,” said Krahn. “They already have such a demanding and difficult job, we wanted to make the design, engineering and consulting process as easy and simple for them as possible, give them solutions and not headaches.”

Currently, Krahn has offices in B.C., Alberta, Ontario for Canada and an office in Arizona for the U.S. Why expand across Canada and now into the States? Their clients operate in different regions and countries and want to leverage Krahn’s experience and services.

“We are able to service the entire west coast and the prairies out of our B.C. and Alberta offices, with the east coast being handled out of Ontario. We also opened our Phoenix, Arizona office to expand and service the clients there. We simply went where our clients were going and doing work and continued to pick up new ones in the different markets we entered,” Krahn noted.

Understanding the industry

“We also understand that although we can provide fully integrated services, we don’t always need to, nor do our clients always want us to,” said Krahn.

Many contractors and developers might already have their preferred team of consultants or individuals that they work with on certain projects. They may have worked with these groups for many years and have strong relationships with them. 

“That is why I set up our disciplines to be their own individual companies.,” said Krahn. “For example, a client may have an architect already and now needs us just to do the structural, electrical and mechanical engineering. We can do this no problem and allows us to work with all different types of consultants, instead of just our own internal team, which helps our teams better understand the construction market and different techniques for design and engineering.”

This openness and collaboration within the industry has allowed Krahn to work with other great architects and engineers on a varying array of projects, building their knowledge and relationships along the way.

“I sometimes think that since we do this, our clients don’t even know the full scope of services and value that we provide,” Krahn explained. “They will have worked with our engineering department on many projects and will be telling us that they love working with us but are now doing a project that their current architect does not have the expertise in, we say, we can do the architectural work. really, they say. you guys do that as well?”

Krahn Group focuses on providing these services for small to medium-sized projects. There are extremely large engineering firms with tens of thousands of employees, but these are focused on extremely large institutional and infrastructure projects.

“There was no real multi-disciplinary firm that was doing this for small to mid-sized projects, say for a townhouse, six storey apartment or warehouse project,” Said Krahn.” I wanted our clients to have this simplicity, but also have the services of a smaller firm, where they were dealing directly with the engineer of the project and there weren’t layers of bureaucracy. I always said that if we ever started to act like a ‘big’ organization, I would quit, and we could shut everything down.” 

Service, Service, Service

This attitude emanates through the Krahn group and can be seen in their company culture and how they approach their work and clients. 

“I have always said to our team, the three most important things that you can provide as a consultant are ‘Service, Service, Service,’” Krahn noted. “Even if  it’s texting your client on the weekend with an update, our team wants to go above and beyond to ensure that we are providing real value and service to our clients.”

This attitude also leads into their collaborative solutions they provide on their projects. 

“We understand that the contractor/developer usually knows the best way to build things and the cost implications, so asking them what they would want to do and what the implications of this are. We are just here to verify and make sure we can design/engineer what they want,” clarified Krahn.

This has led the Krahn Group to become a trusted client partner in the projects they work on.

“We want to be the ones the clients know that they can turn to” Krahn explained. “They know we have the experience and expertise to deliver on their projects. We let our people, projects and work for itself. It’s worked for me for 40 years and is why we have such great relationships in the industry.”

If you’re looking for design and engineering consultants for your next project, explore all the services  Krahn Group offers today. They’re your partner in navigating the architecture and engineering sector.

B.C.’s 7th annual Construction and Skilled Trades Month has begun. It will serve as an opportunity to recognize excellence across the industry in two areas of priority: culture change and leadership.

This year’s celebration highlights the importance of the industry’s mentors in shaping the new generation of construction workers, and marks five years of Builders Code culture training, policies and commitments, making construction a more welcoming and inclusive career choice.

“Construction Month allows us to shine a bright light on the impact our industry has on the lives of British Columbians,” said Chris Atchison, president of the BC Construction Association (BCCA). “92% of construction owners are small businesses who employ fewer than 20 employees. Day after day, they deliver the important housing, institutional, commercial, industrial and infrastructure projects our province needs. They work hard, and they get the job done. We welcome this opportunity to give them the recognition and respect they deserve.”

According to the latest data from Statistics Canada, in 2021, there were 215,800 workers in B.C. employed in construction, representing 8.1% of provincial employment. Within the subsectors 121,300 workers were employed in trade contracting, 67,300 workers in construction of buildings, and 27,300 in heavy and civil engineering construction.

Construction Month is a celebration of the collective success of BC’s construction industry, as well as an opportunity to celebrate the outstanding leadership of those companies who inspire by example. The following companies are being recognized this year:

Awards for construction industry culture

The Builders Code Champion Awards recognize four employers who are leading the way in advancing the culture of BC’s industrial, commercial, institutional and multi-unit residential housing construction industry. Recruiting and retaining a diverse range of talent is critical to alleviating BC’s construction workforce shortage. By exemplifying Builders Code principles in their workplace culture, these BC companies have positioned themselves as employers of choice.

The 2024 Builders Code Champions are:
• Turner Construction Company (Vancouver) – Workplace Culture Champion
• Houle Electric (Victoria) – Recruiting, Hiring and Retention Champion
• CGI Constructors (Victoria/Vancouver) – Recruiting, Hiring and Retention Champion
• EllisDon (Vancouver) – Community Champion

For more information about Builders Code Champion Award winners, visit builderscode.ca.

Awards for leadership

The Leadership Awards are an annual acknowledgement of outstanding contributions by BC construction companies, highlighting the important legacy from which future generations can benefit. This year’s recipients were selected in partnership with BC’s Regional Construction Associations: the Northern Regional Construction Association (NRCA), the Southern Interior Construction Association (SICA), the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) and the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA).

The 2024 Leadership Award winners are:
• Westcana Electric Ltd. (Prince George)
• Acres Enterprises (Kamloops)
• Heritage Masonry (Victoria)
• Pitt Meadows Plumbing & Mechanical Systems Ltd. (Maple Ridge)

The BC Construction Association is also celebrating Construction Month with 50 grants of $250 and 50 grants of $500 each for companies to buy their workers lunch as part of the #LunchBoxChallenge. Currently, all grants have been claimed.

Even without a grant, the association is encouraging companies to still treat a crew to lunch this month and challenge other construction employers to do the same. Be sure to tag #lunchboxchallenge.

The Leadership Awards are sponsored by LNG Canada, BCCA, and the National Construction Council, as Title and Platinum Sponsors of Construction Month 2024.

For more information about Leadership Award winners, visit constructionmonth.ca.

Ruth Legg has joined Concert Properties as vice president, environment, social & governance. Legg has spent a decade in financial services, most recently as Americas head of supply chain sustainability and diversity at HSBC. 

Jerome Julier has been appointed executive vice president and chief financial officer for Aecon. Julier brings two decades of leadership experience in finance, strategy, and capital markets with a significant focus on industrial businesses in the construction, engineering, and transportation sectors.

Elliott Altberg has been appointed executive vice president, eastern Canada, at Beedie. He joins Beedie with almost 20 years of experience in real estate in capital markets, private equity/pension fund investments, property brokerage, and corporate mergers and acquisitions at some of the most pre-eminent real estate and investment banking firms in North America.

Jennifer Mallard has been selected as principal for Henriquez Partners Architects’ new Toronto studio. Previously a partner at Diamond Schmitt, Mallard developed extensive knowledge of the Toronto market, with over 30 years of experience leading the design and delivery of civic, residential, educational and institutional projects.

Jennifer Mallard, principal, Toronto and Gregory Henriquez, managing principal. – Henriquez Partners Architects

Mike Keane has been hired as a senior project manager at Roc Modular. Keane has nearly a decade of experience in the modular construction industry, successfully managing a variety of large-scale modular multi-unit housing and commercial projects.

Josh White has been chosen as the City of Vancouver’s next general manager, planning, urban design and sustainability (PDS) following an extensive recruitment process. His most recent role was director, city and regional planning and co-chief planner at the City of Calgary.

I received an incredibly warm welcome from an almost overwhelming number of people that reached out from Vancouver today. I look forward to collaborating in confronting the challenges of housing affordability and continuing to make Vancouver even more liveable and sustainable!

Josh White, general manager, planning, urban design and sustainability, City of Vancouver

Francis Roy has been appointed chair of the Canadian Construction Association’s board of directors. A 30-year veteran of the industry, Roy is president and CEO of Groupe Humaco companies.

Shirin Oshidari has joined Salus as its chief revenue officer. Oshidari has overseen sales and services for innovative construction tech companies like Primavera, Autodesk, StreetLight Data and OpenSpace. She will spearhead Salus’ expansion into the U.S. market.

Dante Gamboa has been promoted to business development representative at 505-Junk

Frank Carillo and Nicholas Pang have joined Stack Modular as project manager and project coordinator, respectively. 

Ricardo Brites has been promoted to director of engineering & VDC at Mercer Mass Timber after two years with the company. 

Troy MacBeth Ambromaitis is leaving Bucci Developments after 11 years. Ambromaitis stated that his time at Bucci was filled with invaluable experiences, growth opportunities, and cherished memories spanning over a decade.

Ryan Pfeiffer is now a partner at Rain City Industrial where he will assume a pivotal role in leading its refrigeration division forward into a new era of innovation and excellence.

Thomas Grell has joined Graham as its executive vice president, services. Grell has nearly three decades of progressive leadership experience and a proven track record of success across diverse industries. He will lead Graham’s Services division with a focus on exceptional safety results, repeat business with key clients, and sustained growth.

Chris Colbeckpresident of Townline, has announced his retirement. Colbeck launched his real estate career in 1990. His successor will be Daryl Simpson, who is known for his work with the Urban Development Institute, the Hecht Foundation and the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

Chris Colbeck speaks at the groundbreaking of BAND, Townline’s landmark 45-storey tower in West Coquitlam. – Townline

Mission Group has restructured its senior leadership team. Randy Shier, co-founder and president is now chief product officer. Luke Turri will shift from executive vice president to president. Steve Abel will move from vice president of finance to chief financial officer. 

Lindsay Brand has been appointed chief investment officer of Concert Properties. Brand will lead Concert’s national team responsible for the income-producing property portfolio, including acquisitions, dispositions, asset and fund management, leasing and property management. She will also oversee Concert Income Properties, an open-ended, limited partnership Canadian fund.

Shane McKernan is now director of preconstruction at Axiom Builders. McKernan began his career as a Red Seal carpenter and went on to high level roles at Keltic Development and Chard Development before joining Axiom.

David Woolley is starting a new position as director of business development, western Canada, at T-RAIL Products. Woolley has more than six years of engineering design experience in the specialized railroad trackwork industry for both light rail and class one railroad agencies.

Rene Ruano has joined EllisDon as a project manager. Previously, he spent eight years at Magil Construction.

Ross Daigle, former owner of Dovie Mechanical, has joined Pitt Meadows Plumbing & Mechanical as vice president of operations. Matthew Robinson, one of the company’s partners, will now assume the role of senior vice president. James Zelinski, C.Mgr will take on the position of vice president of administration.

Paul Kelly has been promoted to vice president of operations, pipeline and Davide Fulcini has been promoted to vice president of operations, infrastructure at Surerus Murphy Joint Venture.  

Both Paul and Davide have held increasingly senior positions within Surerus Murphy and are recognized within the industry for their expertise in early contractor engagement, engineering, design, and construction, as well as their exceptional people leadership and “can do” attitudes.

Surerus Murphy

Dave Filipchuk, PCL president and CEO, has been recognized by the Canadian Construction Association as this year’s Pinnacle Leader. recognizes leaders who apply the highest standards and principles of the construction industry and business community. 

I accept this recognition humbly, knowing the credit is shared with an incredibly talented leadership team that I’m part of, and that our 5,000 plus contingent of dedicated construction professionals have made this possible.

Dave Filipchuk, PCL president and CEO

Martin Jepil has been named chief information officer at Avison Young where he will be tasked with overseeing the firm’s information technology platform and overall architecture. Jepil first joined the firm in April 2021 as Principal, Global Vice President Enterprise Architecture, responsible for delivering world-class technology solutions and products to facilitate client success.

John M. Beck, founder and chairman of Aecon, will receive the title Honorary Doctor of Laws from Assumption University. The Doctor of Laws is presented upon recommendation of Assumption University’s Senate and conferred by the Chancellor, Bishop Ronald Fabbro.

Orlene King is celebrating 15 years at Graham where she works as its senior director of communications.

Some might say that’s a long time to spend with one organization. Hasn’t always been easy but when your values align and you work with talented people, loyalty comes easy.

Orlene King, senior director, communications, Graham Group

Philippe Michalik has been promoted to director of finance and analytics, and Janet McCausland has been hired as head of corporate and external affairs at Kindred Works.

Zachary McLeod has been promoted to operations manager at Graham. He has spent 13 years at the company, originally starting as a project coordinator.

Rabih Zahnan is Wesgroup Properties‘ new senior vice president and managing director, construction. He brings over 20 years of experience in construction, commercial real estate development and operations throughout North America and overseas. He most recently held the role of president and chief operating officer at Sorensen Gross Construction Company

 Angela Sahi has been appointed as Morguard’s new president and chief operating officer. In this new role, Sahi will oversee the company’s operations and drive strategic initiatives aimed at enhancing Morguard’s market position and delivering value to its stakeholders. 

I am deeply honoured and excited to take on the role of President and COO at Morguard. I am grateful for the trust and support of the Board of Directors, and I am committed to leading Morguard toward continued growth and success. Together with our talented team, I look forward to capitalizing on new opportunities and delivering reliable performance to our investors, tenants, and partners.

Angela Sahi, Morguard president and COO

This month’s SiteViews features many smiling faces, a big catch, grand openings and more. If you want your photos to be featured, let us know by reaching out to hello@readsitenews.com

A Few Good Lads

A Few Good Lads celebrates its team’s diversity on the job site.

Faber Construction

Faber Construction celebrates the completion of Kulshan Community Land Trust‘s 142nd permanently affordable home.

Tahltan Nation Development Corporation

Year two of the Tahltan Heavy Equipment Operator Program is in full swing, with the new Level 1 participants wrapping up their first week at the Newmont Red Chris Mine in B.C.

Axiom Builders

Axiom Builders’ crews are hard at work at The Amazing Brentwood, Neighbourhood Two. Now that excavation and shoring is complete, totalling over 182,000 cubic meters of soil, the team is focusing on constructing the underground concrete structure and working their way up towards their next milestone, reaching the ground level.

Ventana Construction

Ventana‘s crews stay positive on a job site in B.C.

Sierra Construction

 The Sierra General Contracting team has been busy work on plant expansion in Woodstock, Ont. Working with Tresman Steel Industries Ltd., they have begun the commencement of steel erection with the ongoing installation of open web steel joists.

Metrolinx

This is the view crews get from the other side of the yellow retention towers at Queen-Spadina while doing work on the Ontario Line. Behind the walls, demolition is 90% complete.

Ledcor

Ledcor’s Edmonton construction team hosted their second annual ice fishing event in celebration of International Women’s Day. The event brought together over 30 women from Ledcor, client partners, volunteers, Alberta Conservation, and Alberta Fish and Wildlife to cheer on and support one another.

Calgary Municipal Land Corporation

Crews celebrate the substantial completion of the BMO Centre Expansion project in Calgary.

Associated Engineering

Crews lift pieces into place for the Edmonton-Strathcona Footbridge project. The team includes Associated Engineering and Graham Construction.

S & J Construction

S & J Construction‘s team executes a pile cap pour in sunny downtown Winnipeg.