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Posted: November 01, 2011

Top Company: PCL Construction

Winner in the real estate/construction category

Maria Martin

TopCO_PCL.jpg

Ask PCL Construction Enterprises President and Chief Operating Officer Peter Beaupré what it takes to make it in the construction industry when the economy is rough, and he'll offer a one-word answer: diversity.

"We are strategically located in various geographic areas, and that was all part of a strategy a generation ago, before me, that said we need to be geographically diverse. We also need to be diverse in various sectors," Beaupré said.

PCL, with North American headquarters in Canada and a U.S. base in Denver, works in three sectors: the commercial world; the heavy industrial world, which deals in soil, gas and power; and the civic world, which tackles the water, wastewater and transportation industries. If one sector is suffering, the others can make up for losses, he said.

Geographical diversity is also critical to the success of the
business, which operates from 27 offices throughout the United States and in Canada.
"We have such a committed group of employees, they will move where the work is. That's been very helpful in this down industry," Beaupré said, adding that he says such dedication is easy to explain.

The 100-year-old company is employee owned, and has been for more than 35 years. Around 95 percent of full-time salaried employees own stock in PCL.
"It puts a special responsibility on all of our employees to ensure everyone does well. We make sure that our clients are looked after and are satisfied with the work that we do," he said. "It's also a great way to retain long-term employees.

"They own a piece of the company, and they therefore benefit from the rewards and success of the company."

Diana Canzona-Hindman, community relations liaison for PCL, said the employee ownership model leads to a very dynamic culture at PCL.

"It really bonds employees together," she said. "It's a very family-oriented, fun environment." And that's all-important when times are tough, she said. "There's a lot of camaraderie at PCL. It's been tested with the economy, but because we are a family, it's helped us build resiliency to weather the storm. We're here for each other in the good and the not-so-good times."

It also means that they all work well as a team when reaching out to the community, she said.

Philanthropy has always been a big part of PCL, Beaupré said.

"Giving back to the community and being part of our community is part of our culture," said Beaupré, who notes that the company has long worked closely with United Way, an organization that has been a blessing in these rough economic times.

Beaupré holds hope that those times are getting brighter. More than 3,300 full-time professional and administrative salaried staff and 5,900 hourly tradespeople work at PCL, which is juggling around 700 projects at any one time. Annual construction volume is more than $5 billion, and work from the federal and state government is on the rise.

While construction in the private sector predictably struggles when the economy dips, Beaupré has hope for the future.

"This year we will have, in terms of new work, more work than we had last year and the year before," Beaupré says. "We're hoping we're seeing the rise back in the construction marketplace."
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Maria Martin is a freelance writer.

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