40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction
INNOVATION. DYNAMISM. TRADITION.
There is no shortage of talent in Canada’s construction industry. Builders may not always get the credit they are due, but coast to coast, the next generation of leaders are finding new ways of working, embracing novel technologies and driving the industry forward — all while maintaining strong connections to the local communities they are helping build.
On-Site and SitePartners are thrilled to announce the inaugural edition of the 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction. A cross-section of the top-performers in the industry, the list includes representatives from all facets of construction — from those spending long hours on-site, to those developing new tools to streamline how we plan, design and build.
Finally, this is by no means an exhaustive list of the talented individuals in the industry. There are roughly 1.4 million people working directly in construction across Canada, and many more in the consulting, law, finance and design communities that support it. Many others are deserving of recognition and we look forward to profiling more of the next generation of leaders in 2021.
The 2020 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction:
Project Director, Aecon Water
Aecon Group Inc.
Progressing from project coordinator to his current position of project director since joining Aecon Water in 2011, Jamie Abernethy, has played a key role on a series of water/wastewater treatment plant (WTP/WWTP) projects throughout Western Canada, including the award-winning Evan Thomas WTP/WWTP. Dedicated to continual improvement, Abernethy promoted and trialled the use of BIM on a WTP/WWTP project in Regina, spearheading a process Aecon Water has since adopted more widely.
Along with serving on various company committees and councils, Abernethy strongly believes in the importance of making a positive impact within the industry and in local communities. He is an active participant in and promoter of both on- and off-site events, such as watershed riverbank restorations, trail building projects, Orange Shirt Day and Indigenous relations training courses.
Troy MacBeth Abromaitis
Director of Development
As the director of Development at Bucci Developments, Troy MacBeth Abromaitis oversees residential development for the Vancouver-based development and management company. With land acquisitions, rezoning, conceptual design, planning and stakeholder relations falling under his scope of work, he has taken the lead on, or is currently working through the entitlement process for, 32 multi-family projects totalling $1.2 billion.
His current portfolio of projects is in excess of $800 million, and includes the four-tower Orion project in Surrey, B.C., which will become home to more than 1,300 residents, among several others in Vancouver and Calgary.
The first Indigenous president of the Real Estate Institute of BC, Abromaitis also sits on the board of directors for Built Green Canada and the Fraser Valley Home Builders Association.
Project Execution Manager
Imperial Oil Ltd.
After completing the civil engineering program at the University of Calgary, Katherine Blaschuk began her evolving and rewarding 15-year career with Imperial Oil, where she is now the project execution manager for the company’s Regional Projects Division. Throughout her career, Blaschuk has demonstrated leadership throughout her project management experience, putting her skills to work in support of project work at sites such as Kearl, Cold Lake, Norman Wells and Aspen. Recently, she led a projects group of up to 140 people, overseeing projects with an annual spend of $600 million.
Blaschuk supports and participates in various mentorship programs at Imperial Oil, and has been selected to represent Imperial Oil on the board of the Construction Owners Association of Alberta.
Dan and Nick Bockstael
Vice-President of Pre-Construction; Vice-President of Construction
Bockstael Construction Ltd.
Dan and Nick Bockstael are two brothers who actively lead the direction of Bockstael Construction, a fourth-generation family business based in Winnipeg that specializes in Lean construction management across Manitoba.
Dan Bockstael, vice-president of Pre-Construction, has continued to enhance Bockstael’s delivery of pre-construction services through the integration of best-in-class processes and technologies, including Lean Target Value Delivery and BIM. The company has seen strong growth throughout the province, highlighted by such projects as the 119-unit Muse Flats in Winnipeg and the Gillam Recreation Centre Redevelopment in Northern Manitoba.
Involved in several industry and community endeavours, Dan Bockstael currently serves on the board of the Winnipeg Construction Association (WCA), as well as the Manitoba Section of the Association of the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEI). He is actively engaged with several community groups, such as the Main Street Project and the Gonzaga Nativity School. He also participates in Young Construction Leaders of Manitoba and Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba.
Nick Bockstael, vice-president of Construction, is focused on enhancing client value through the continuous improvement of project delivery, earning the family firm a reputation as an emerging leader in Lean Construction. He has been instrumental in building the company’s capacity and capabilities in high-rise and industrial installations, starting with construction of the 21-storey Glasshouse Skylofts in Winnipeg. Recent notable projects include the ALT Hotel and No. 1 River Landing Condos in Saskatoon, as well as the 42-storey concrete core at 300 Main and the Richardson Innovation Centre in Winnipeg. He is the past chair and founding member of Young Construction Leaders of Manitoba at the WCA, in addition to being a board member with the Lean Construction Institute of Canada.
Together, Dan and Nick Bockstael have implemented major transformation initiatives at Bockstael Construction, working in tandem to deliver quality projects and sustained company growth through a collaborative and client-focused approach to construction.
Caliber Projects Ltd.
Since founding Caliber Projects in 2008 in Langley, B.C., Justin Bontkes has led multi-family and mixed-use building projects valued at more than $500 million, both completed and upcoming, with roughly 2.2 million sq. ft. of floor space completed or planned. He has helped Caliber rewrite how business is conducted in the construction industry, offering a unique culture that focuses on employee success, including open-book management, financial literacy training and personal and professional development. Under Bontkes’s leadership, Caliber has grown from two to 45 engaged construction professionals.
Beyond the ongoing mentorship Bontkes provides his employees, he is also active in the local community, participating in various business programs, industry associations and charitable organizations, including the Homebuilders Association of Vancouver (HAVAN), the Urban Development Institute, Habitat for Humanity, Stepping Stones Bible Camp and Night Shift Ministries.
CEO & Co-Founder
Mallorie Brodie and her business partner saw the opportunity to innovate within the construction industry in 2012, launching Kitchener, Ont.-based Bridgit, which combined their interests in technology and entrepreneurship with family connections to the construction industry. Since then, Brodie has taken on the role of CEO, helping to successfully launch two powerful software tools for construction professionals.
The first, Bridgit Field, is a punch list and inspection management tool for contractors and developers, while the second, Bridgit Bench, is a resource management and workforce planning tool for operations managers. Both are used across North America by many leading general contractors, subcontractors and specialty contractors.
As a strong supporter of diversity, equity and inclusion in both construction and tech, Brodie speaks at a large number of industry events and conferences to raise awareness and advocate for such topics as women entering construction, digitization in construction and female entrepreneurship.
Vice-President and Deputy General Counsel
After being called to the Ontario Bar and spending two years at a large Bay Street firm, Michael Casey joined EllisDon, starting out as legal counsel and working his way up to vice-president and deputy general counsel. From the outset, Casey made it a priority to learn the industry, gaining valuable insight into the company’s business and operational priorities, as well as helping complete many of the biggest projects and initiatives EllisDon has delivered.
Notable projects that Casey has played a leadership role in negotiating and securing contracts for include the Ottawa LRT project, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project and the Edmonton Valley LRT project.
Along with his work at the contractor, Casey is the vice-chair of the Construction Corporation Counsel Forum and serves as a member of the Project Delivery & Risk Management Think Tank for CanBIM.
Barnard Constructors of Canada LP
Nathan Chevrefils’ career has taken him across Canada to some of the most remote locations in the country and to a wide range of heavy civil and infrastructure projects. With a background in civil engineering technology and extensive remote project experience with Kiewit, Chevrefils was recruited to join the Keeyask Generating Station megaproject in a remote, northern region of Manitoba. Recognizing his leadership skills, Barnard then hired Chevrefils to help expand its heavy civil and infrastructure portfolio across Canada, while he also remained on as construction manager for the Keeyask project.
Having grown up in a small town as a Manitoba Métis, Chevrefils understands the challenges that people from small communities face, and has been actively involved in providing valuable mentorship and training opportunities for individuals in the communities surrounding the remote projects he leads.
Inferno Solar Ltd.
A master electrician and electrical engineer with an extensive technical background in the electrical and energy industries dating back to 2007, Curtis Craig formed Inferno Solar Ltd. in early 2019 to deliver turnkey solar projects throughout Alberta. In less than two years, Craig and his team have installed over 2,700 solar modules totaling over 1,000 kW throughout the province, successfully completing solar projects with budgets up to $2 million.
A firm believer in the potential of solar power throughout Western Canada, he aims to scale up his business to install more than 20,000 new solar panels over the next two years.
Outside of his work, Craig is an active advocate for renewable energy in Alberta, and has been a frequent guest lecturer at the University of Calgary, speaking about commercial electrical design.
Advanced Work Packaging Canada Regional Lead, Construction & Fabrication
Fluor Canada Ltd.
With 11 years of diverse experience as a civil and structural engineer, Shannon DaCosta has worked across Canada on large-scale and complex projects in the energy and chemical sectors, as well as on high-profile infrastructure and municipal projects. Working with Fluor Canada out of the company’s Calgary office since 2011, DaCosta has been instrumental in the implementation of industry best practices for advanced work packaging (AWP) on all Fluor projects in Canada, significantly improving efficiencies in field execution. She serves as one of Fluor’s global AWP subject matter experts, a distinguished group that assists and advises on all matters related to the adoption and implementation of AWP.
DaCosta has a passion for corporate, community and industry involvement, and among other initiatives, has led Fluor’s Calgary office Engineering Month campaign, spearheading a Discover Engineering initiative where Fluor employees mentored nearly 400 students about opportunities in engineering and construction.
Contracts and Legal Director
Crosslinx Transit Solutions Constructors
Justin DeMerchant is the Contracts and Legal Director at Crosslinx Transit Solutions, a consortium established to design and build the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) project. DeMerchant leads the legal, contracting and finance departments for the design-builder of the roughly $12 billion transit project, which is among Canada’s largest infrastructure projects.
While his home position is with SNC-Lavalin, he was seconded to Crosslinx in 2016, where he leads a team of 65 people, in addition to engaging with all external stakeholders. He also serves as the ethics and compliance officer and as a project representative on the executive board.
DeMerchant actively promotes awareness and understanding about working in the construction industry to professionals in the legal sector, taking on numerous speaking opportunities with the Canadian Bar Association and The Canadian Institute. He also founded and chairs the University of New Brunswick Law Class of 2010 scholarship, which to date, has supported eight students in their studies.
President and CEO
As the founder, president and CEO of Avana, Jennifer Denouden sets the direction and vision for the fast-growing real estate and property management firm based in Regina, Sask. Under her leadership, the company has developed over $200 million in assets since its inception in 2014 and manages a portfolio of more than 550 rental units in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Among other distinctions it recently ranked 10th on the Canadian Business and Maclean’s list of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies.
Denouden, a Certified Professional Home Builder and Certified Financial Planner, has earned both industry recognition for Avana’s strong growth and a range of awards for entrepreneurship. She recently served a two-year term on the board of directors for the Regina & Region Home Builders’ Association, and recently shifted Avana’s current priority to the development of affordable housing, with a specific focus on creating suitable housing options for women and children who have fled domestic abuse.
Director Integrated Digital Delivery
Aecon Group Inc.
With over 13 years of experience in civil engineering and construction on major infrastructure projects, Ben Feltham is recognized as a global leader in BIM Management. In his roughly 2 ½ years since joining Aecon, he has built up the company’s Integrated Digital Delivery Team, leading the group in planning, building and executing BIM-based processes to assist in the construction of highly technical projects. Previously, he was the Head of BIM, Digital Engineering and Document Control at Skanska UK Infrastructure.
The Gardiner Expressway Strategic Rehabilitation Plan in Toronto, Ont., was the first project on which Feltham and his team at Aecon applied BIM, helping to improve profitability by significantly reducing re-work activities while improving project scheduling. The success has led to a wider rollout across the company’s project portfolio.
Director, Infrastructure Delivery
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
Building on his success as manager of Project Delivery, Engineering Services for the City of Vancouver, Devan Fitch is currently the director of Infrastructure Delivery with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA), where he leads the Gateway program of infrastructure projects with a cumulative, multi-year value of nearly $1 billion. As a professional engineer, project manager and emerging leader with both private and public sector project experience, Fitch specializes in building and leading teams to successfully manage high risk, high value and high profile multi-disciplinary civil infrastructure projects.
Throughout his career, Fitch has identified continuous improvement opportunities outside his core responsibilities to streamline processes and procedures and implement new and innovative strategies. As an advocate for stakeholder engagement and multi-agency collaboration, Fitch is also a director with the BC Construction Roundtable and is the VFPA’s representative for the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada BC Chapter.
In the just over two years since its inception, Orion Construction has secured significant market share in the light industrial and commercial construction sectors in the Greater Vancouver area. Under Joshua Gaglardi’s leadership, Orion’s revenue has climbed over 7,300 per cent and it has already secured contracts for the development of more than 2.5 million square feet to be built over the next two years. Gaglardi has established the company as one of the most innovative and proactive design-build contractors in the area, working with high-profile clientele that typically require successful track records far longer than Orion’s.
Gaglardi is also active in the construction community, serving as a member of the NAIOP, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, Vancouver Regional Construction Association and Urban Development Institute.
President and CEO
Naikoon Contracting Ltd.
Joe Geluch began his career in construction at a young age as a general labourer, and quickly progressed through the ranks as an apprentice, Red Seal carpenter, site supervisor and Gold Seal project manager. Now, as president and CEO of Naikoon Contracting, based out of North Vancouver, B.C., Geluch has built Naikoon into an internationally recognized, full-cycle construction boutique, specializing in innovative projects throughout Western Canada.
With an emphasis on Passive House, carbon neutral, energy performance, off-site assembly and mass timber construction methods, he has led Naikoon to over 40 industry awards — locally, provincially and nationally.
Within the industry, Geluch sits on many research and advisory committees, most notably within the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, where he serves as the chair of the BC Technical Research Committee, and as a management committee member on the Canada Technical Research Committee and the Net Zero Energy Housing Council of Canada.
Regional Solutions and Technology Lead, Construction Management (Canada)
Taking over as the principal advocate for construction management service staff in Canada at Jacobs in 2018, Shawn Gray serves as the key point of contact with the company’s global practice. He works directly with sales, line managers and project delivery staff across Canada to identify opportunities for new construction technology and innovative delivery methods for new business growth. Prior to his current role, Gray has served in various capacities as an engineer and project manager with Jacobs and CH2M, which Jacobs acquired in late 2017, providing leadership and developing multiple large-scale civil infrastructure construction projects.
With a civil engineering background and specialization in structural work, Gray is a proponent of continuous improvement and has undergone many formal internal and external development programs, including sales, project management, site safety and leadership courses, as well as ongoing technical training courses to further his knowledge in industrial and civil design and construction.
Co-Founder and COO
SiteMax Systems Inc.
Looking for a new challenge after a decade as a residential and commercial project manager overseeing over $250 million in project volume across Western Canada, Christian Hamm co-founded SiteMax Systems Inc., a construction management SaaS (software as a service) company. Fueled by his passion to disrupt the way people construct buildings, Hamm leverages his construction experience to build robust software for construction professionals that is both simple and powerful. In just over three years, Hamm has helped grow Vancouver-based SiteMax from less than $100,000 in annual recurring revenue to $1.8 million ARR. The company continues to pursue strong growth, aiming to quadruple its headcount and boost revenue 10 to 15 times in the next three years.
In addition to his own professional development, Hamm is a proud alumnus of Trinity Western University, mentoring business students interested in the industrial sector achieve both their professional and personal goals.
Enviro-Ex Contracting Ltd.
Based out of Prince George, B.C., William Hoban, is recognized for his contributions to safety and innovation in civil and environmental construction across Western Canada. With 22 years of heavy construction experience in a variety of roles, including his current positions as president of Enviro-Ex Contracting Ltd., Hoban has leveraged his experience to co-develop many technological innovations that improve on-site safety. This includes an employee proximity alert and control system for aggregate crushing plants, which received an award for safety innovation from the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association (SHCA) and the Canadian Construction Association. He also received an award from the SHCA related to drone inspections.
Hoban supports many industry associations across Canada, being the past Construction director of the BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, and is an active member of the Grading, Digital Information and Blue Book committees for the BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association.
Director, Contracts and Commercial
Lakeland Consulting Inc.
Working with Lakeland Consulting Inc. for the past nine years, Daniel Josiah has consulted on a range of projects including the Union Station Revitalization Project and other large infrastructure projects in Ontario, various oilsands projects in Alberta and potash projects in Saskatchewan. As director of Contracts & Commercial at Lakeland since 2017, he provides construction contract administrative services to a range of clients and regularly works out amicable resolutions to complex construction disputes.
In addition to leading countless innovation, efficiency, and profitability activities at the Oakville, Ont.-based firm, Josiah is an APC assessor for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), regularly mentoring and advising emerging professionals working to enter the industry and progress to positions of leadership. Recently, he encouraged Lakeland management to take the BlackNorth Initiative’s pledge aimed at the removal of anti-Black systemic barriers in Canada.
General Manager, Industrial Oil Sands
After establishing a strong track record as a project coordinator across the potash, uranium, oil & gas and infrastructure markets at Graham’s Saskatoon Office, Jeremy Klarenbach has moved through a number of project leadership positions at the contractor, earning multiple project success and safety awards for work in Alberta’s oilsands. He took on a fresh challenge as project director for the McLoughlin Point Wastewater Treatment Plant in Victoria, B.C. in January 2019, where he put his skills to work solving complex problems while considering stakeholder interests in an urban environment.
Now back in Edmonton as General Manager of Graham’s Industrial Oil Sands division, Klarenbach plays a key role in fostering mentorships to grow and expand the skill sets of young employees, and provides training and opportunities for underrepresented groups within the construction industry. His work with Graham’s Women Building Futures program and involvement with several Indigenous partnerships are two prominent examples.
Trillium Advisory Group
Tannis Liviniuk is the CEO of Trillium Advisory Group, a start-up organization that helps construction and project teams deploy new processes and technology solutions. Based out of Mill Bay, B.C., she leads a team of 13, each of whom deliver best-in-class project support in a rapidly growing and highly challenging industry. Starting her career in the trades, where she experienced the challenges of lagging technology deployment first-hand, Liviniuk is now a subject matter expert in construction technology, BIM, Advanced Work Packaging, and Lean.
Liviniuk is an active member of industry organizations that support innovation and advancement, serving with the Construction Industry Institute and the Construction Owners Association of Alberta, among others, and speaking on topics such as women in construction and technology innovation at numerous industry events. She is also a guest lecturer on industry best practice at colleges and universities.
Senior Vice-President and Area Manager, Civil
Joining EllisDon in 2014 as manager of Procurement for the company’s Civil division, Max Mantha was responsible for overseeing the proposal and pre-construction teams for several high-profile design-build and P3 submissions. Mantha’s role and responsibilities evolved year-over-year as he helped to successfully deliver large-scale infrastructure projects for Kilmer Group, First Capital, Waterfront Toronto, Infrastructure Ontario, Metrolinx, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and the Toronto Transit Commission. His strong track record led to his current position of senior vice-president and area manager for EllisDon Civil, where he leads a team of over 400 employees.
Passionate about building strong leaders, Mantha’s activities outside of EllisDon include mentoring students from the Richard Ivey School of Business, Rotman School of Management and the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University. He is the current chair of the Civil Engineering Advisory Board at the Lassonde School of Engineering.
Innovation Engineer – VDC, GIS, BIM
Pierre Marcombe, innovation engineer at EBC Inc., specializes in and helps lead the implementation of VDC, GIS, and BIM software to support the Quebec-based contractor’s high-profile and complex civil infrastructure construction projects. A true innovator, Marcombe has led the development of multiple in-house tools to streamline cross-team efficiencies throughout the company. This includes custom software that allows for the dynamic quantification of surfaces on 3D models, giving estimating teams the ability to quickly adapt to ever-changing designs, and a custom AI engine and geolocation database that converts thousands of site photos to highly valuable, structured information.
As an advocate for sharing knowledge outside of EBC, Marcombe actively participates in developing the next generation of engineers, serving as a mentor through the Order of Engineers of Quebec (OIQ), where he shares from experience how the engineering practice can combine innovation, ethics and professionalism to positively impact the industry.
Synergy Projects Ltd.
Joining Synergy as president in 2018, Rob McGrath led the Edmonton-based construction firm through a rapid growth period, hiring 70 additional staff members as Synergy has become a leading contractor in the Alberta marketplace. McGrath’s involvement also helped lead the expansion of the Synergy Group of Companies into the Ottawa market in 2020. He has developed and implemented new processes across all facets of the business, including revamping the company’s estimating procedure, its preconstruction process, its approach to execution and its safety culture. Before joining Synergy, McGrath spent 16 years with PCL Construction, where he contributed to many high-profile projects, such as Phase 1 of the Queen’s University Centre and the Quinte Consolidated Courthouse P3 Project.
A proud ambassador for the industry, Rob serves as a member of the Edmonton Construction Association’s (ECA) board of directors and is a founding member of the ECA’s Young Builders Group.
As vice-president of a fourth generation family business based in Vancouver, Ellisha Mott sets the strategic direction and vision for the company, which includes contemporizing 90-year-old Mott Electric as a leader in employment and diversity standards. Prior to her current role, Mott grew the electrical contractor’s new fibre optics division from three to roughly 150 people, which has earned it the distinction of being the largest in-house fibre optics service contractor in Western Canada.
This division continues to thrive more than six years later, accounting for more than half of company profits, with female representation double that of the union average.
Outside of her organization, Mott has been recognized by the Women’s Infrastructure Network as one of the Top 5 Emerging Leaders across Canada, and concentrates her efforts on improving skilled labour diversity training within the industry, creating a Training and Legacy Fund which offers a Women in Trade Bursary program in B.C.
Vice-President and District Manager, BC
After securing a civil engineering degree and completing three successful co-op terms with PCL Construction, Jeff Murphy has progressed rapidly through many management roles through his 15-year career with PCL, to his current position as vice-president and district manager for the BC region. Notable projects that report to Murphy include the Vancouver International Airport Pier D Expansion (Phase 1) and the Vancouver General Hospital Operating Room Renewal.
Prior to his current Vancouver-based position, Murphy was Special Projects manager and area manager for Atlantic Canada. He began his career in Toronto working on numerous PCL projects prior to this.
Having managed and led complex projects from coast to coast, Murphy has displayed a high level of leadership competency, and has been selected to participate in PCL’s High Potential Development Program (HPDP) as well as the Peter Green Leadership Course. Among other accolades, he won the 2012 PCL Robert Stollery award for his strong leadership performance.
TKI Construction Ltd.
Since co-founding TKI Construction more than 10 years ago, Brandon Panopoulos has grown the company from two people to a team of 40. His vision and entrepreneurial skills have earned Kelowna, B.C.-based TKI a reputation as a safe, cohesive and inclusive commercial construction company.
Within the industry, Panopoulos has been active on the board of directors for the Southern Interior Construction Association over the past two years, and was recently appointed Treasurer. He is also a strong proponent for creating healthy and supportive communities, partnering with organizations and agencies that advocate for the safety and well-being of others. Within his own company, Panopoulos is an advocate for diversity and inclusion, ensuring gender parity remains a foundational pillar by mentoring and promoting women to key leadership roles in construction.
In his 17 years with PCL, transitioning from a civil engineering co-op student to senior-level management, Marc Pascoli has embraced the company’s culture of mobility to gain exposure to new skills, markets and opportunities. Pascoli has been an integral part of PCL’s transition to digital operations, innovative crowdsourcing platforms and its expansion into solar energy, which has earned him recognition, awards, and leadership training opportunities within the company, including its High Potential Development Program (HPDP). Since 2013, Pascoli’s leadership abilities have translated into significant growth in the value of projects under his supervision, growing from $52 million to $1.6 billion. Likewise, the size of his team has expanded considerably, now totalling nearly 300.
Outside of work, Pascoli is a key contributor to the Commercial Real Estate Development Association’s (NAIOP) mentoring committee, and has received recognition for his support of various charitable organizations across Canada.
Vice-President and General Manager
Canadian Turner Construction Company
Amit Patel has been working with Turner Construction for over 15 years, where he began as a project manager in Seattle, Wash. In 2011, he returned to his native Vancouver to build the Turner business in British Columbia. He has since led projects for some of the biggest companies and institutions in the region and grown the division from two to over 100 employees and over $100 million in annual revenue.
Under Patel’s guidance, the Vancouver office has led the local construction industry to elevate the use of virtual design and construction (VDC), advocating for innovation across the construction industry.
Patel is an active member in the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) and regularly contributes to the community through various charity, diversity and industry events. To further his commitment to organizational leadership and continuous improvement, Patel is currently enrolled at UBC in the Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP).
President and CEO
Concord Projects Ltd.
Having worked at Concord Projects, a Winnipeg-based full-service and multi-sector construction firm, since 2005, Nolan Ploegman has progressed from construction supervisor, estimator, head of pre-construction, to president and CEO. He now oversees all aspects of the company. One of the most significant contributions Ploegman has made at Concord is moving the majority of its internal processes — including the entire accounting system — to the cloud, digitizing and overhauling all protocols and workflows to streamline communication and efficiencies across the company.
Through all his success with Concord, Ploegman’s proudest accomplishment to date is the charitable contributions the company makes to communities throughout Winnipeg and in developing countries through the Concord Projects Foundation. Ploegman is a regular speaker at industry events and at the University of Manitoba. He and Concord Projects have also been proud supporters of both Manitoba Women in Construction and Young Construction Leaders of Manitoba.
Nomodic Modular Structures Inc.
As co-founder and CFO of Nomodic Modular Structures based out of Calgary, Julia Read has been involved in almost every facet of the design-build company, which specializes in modular and pre-fabricated design and construction, since its inception in 2012. Already having faced two recessions since launching the company, Read’s strategic planning and financial analysis has helped Nomodic successfully diversify its business model beyond the energy and industrial sectors, entering in-demand markets such as affordable housing, Indigenous community housing and hospitality. Since making this transition, Nomodic has received an Excellence in Residential Development award from the Town of Smithers, B.C. Read also recently led Nomodic’s acquisition of Aithra Projects Inc., designed to help the company expand its service offering.
Among other community initiatives, Read acts as treasurer on the board of the Federation of Calgary Communities, a non-profit supporting community-based organizations throughout the city.
CEO and Co-Founder
AECO Innovation Lab
A visionary who has contributed to many entrepreneurial ventures and research publications, Arash Shahi’s current endeavour is as CEO and co-founder of AECO Innovation Lab — an industry consortium dedicated to the productivity, sustainability, and profitability of the architecture, engineering and construction sectors. Examples of recent innovative projects Shahi has led include a collaborative R&D project streamlining the development approval process in Ontario and an initiative to digitize the Ontario Building Code.
Beyond his achievements within industry, Shahi is a leader within the academic world, authoring dozens of research journal papers and regularly delivering conference presentations, all focused on leading-edge technology and processes. Passionate for finding solutions to the challenges faced by the construction industry, Shahi leads with an enthusiastic, energetic and collaborative approach to bring people together to get things done.
Director, Project Management
RAM Consulting Inc.
A professional engineer, Project Management Professional, Envision Sustainability Professional, and a Master Municipal Construction Documents Certified Contract Administrator, Jesse Unke is the director of Project Management for Vancouver, B.C.-based RAM Consulting Inc. He provides leadership across high-profile transportation and municipal infrastructure projects throughout North America. FortisBC’s Lower Mainland Intermediate Pressure System Upgrade project and the Vancouver Airport Fuel Delivery project, totalling roughly $400 million and $350 million, are two prominent examples of projects on which Unke has taken a leadership role.
Throughout his 19-year career in the industry, Unke has been an active advocate for the construction community. Among a range of volunteer positions, he is currently serving as president of the BC Construction Roundtable and as a mentor with the Project Management Institute and Engineers and Geoscientists BC.
Ryan Van Damme
Founder and CEO
Ironclad Developments Inc.
In the roughly six ½ years since the company’s inception, Ryan Van Damme has established Springfield, Man.-based Ironclad Developments as an industry leader in the multi-family residential construction sector, earning many awards and distinctions, most notably as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, as recognized by Deloitte. Under Van Damme’s guidance, the business has expanded rapidly to include more than six operating units that collectively employ more than 250 staff members. To date, Ironclad has completed construction of 1,142 residential units located in 16 buildings across four provinces, with more than 5,000 additional units scheduled for construction over the next three years.
Van Damme is also dedicated to supporting the construction communities in which Ironclad operates. He is an active member of the Canadian Construction Association, the Winnipeg Construction Association and the Vancouver Island Construction Association.
Metric Civil Contractors Ltd.
With a background in project management, Chris Veenstra co-founded Metric Civil Contractors in late 2012 and has grown it into a successful civil construction company of 30 employees, founded on a strong environmental and safety program.
Veenstra developed his passion for safety, efficiency and environmental discipline while deconstructing and decommissioning old military buildings on Baffin Island, Nunavut, working in some of the most challenging conditions in the Canadian Arctic. Now based out of Chilliwack, B.C., he has successfully partnered with several local Indigenous communities, completing a wide range of civil and environmental construction projects, thanks in part to his advocacy for environmental stewardship and building trusting working relationships. Outside of his work and family commitments, Veenstra is a member of the Mt. Cheam Rotary Club and sits on the boards of directors for Chilliwack Community Services, Chilliwack Bowls of Hope Society and Chilliwack Minor Lacrosse Association.
District Manager, Alberta and BC
Starting in Graham’s Calgary office as a civil engineering intern in 2004, Jayson Veldhoen has progressed through various roles in his 15 years with the company, taking on an ever-increasing level of responsibility. Currently the district manager for Alberta and BC, he provides leadership to infrastructure teams across Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Notable projects that Veldhoen has played a key management and leadership role on include the Crowchild Trail Bridges Widening project over the Bow River in Calgary and the Groat Road Bridge Rehabilitation project over the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton. Both required crews to meet complex construction and environmental challenges.
Within the industry, Veldhoen serves on the board of directors of the Alberta Roadbuilders & Heavy Construction Association, where he is a leader in advocating for Early Construction Involvement (ECI) contract models, driven by a desire to help the industry see more successful project outcomes.
Jenkins Marzban Logan LLP
As an experienced construction lawyer serving B.C., Alberta and Northwest Territories, Vanessa Werden provides a broad range of services across the construction industry during all phases of construction. An associate at Vancouver-based Jenkins Marzban Logan LLP, she has significant experience in resolving complex mid- and post-project disputes, among many other areas.
Beyond her professional experience, which includes counsel to national top-tier contractors, fabricators and project owners on major infrastructure and heavy construction projects, Werden has contributed to the industry through over 1,200 volunteer hours over the past six years. An advocate for advancing women in construction, Werden serves as president of Canadian Construction Women, which connects and assists women in building business and mentoring relationships. Werden is also a regular guest lecturer for the Masters of Engineering Leadership Program at UBC, and has spoken at many industry conferences and associations, including BUILDEX Vancouver and the Vancouver Regional Construction Association.
Westbow Group of Companies
As CEO of Chilliwack, B.C.-based Westbow Group of Companies since 2009, Nick Westeringh has quadrupled the size of the business and been integral to its expansion and growth. Specializing in project analysis, land acquisitions, construction operations, project management and financial management, in addition to contributing to the overall vision and strategic direction of the company, Westeringh has led Westbow to build over 1,500 homes as a developer and establish a portfolio of more than $400 million in assets.
Throughout his career, Westeringh has been committed to supporting the communities in the areas he does business, providing grants and scholarships to Indigenous youth and offering mentorship and growth opportunities. Under the Westbow Group of Companies, Westeringh also supports OwnWest, a program designed to make home ownership accessible for everyone.
Project Manager, Health and Safety Manager
Joining Toronto, Ont.-based Vestacon in 2010, not long after it was formed, Julie Zabizewski has played an integral role in the construction management company’s development, helping establish corporate guidelines and implementing technology to streamline the tendering process. She has managed numerous projects across Ontario and recently co-authored white paper publications focused on the safety protocols that would allow for a safe return to work during COVID-19.
Coinciding with the release of these papers, Zabizewski was promoted to a managerial role at Vestacon. Having already helped the company secure ContractorCheck and ComplyWorks accreditations, she is currently working through IHSA’s COR program.
Zabizewski is also active within the construction community. She held an executive role on the board for the Canadian Association of Women in Construction (CAWIC) and currently volunteers on committees for both CAWIC and the Toronto Construction Association. She is also a Women Build Ambassador for Habitat for Humanity GTA.
MEET OUR JUDGING PANEL
The president and founder of SitePartners, Andrew Hansen leads a team dedicated to building brands and driving growth through- out the industrial sector. Having spent years working on-site, he leverages his on-the-ground knowledge to help clients in construction set new strategic directions and grow their businesses.
A founding partner of Hemson Consulting Ltd., John Hughes has nearly 50 years of professional experience and currently heads the firm’s real estate advisory practice. He is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Char- tered Surveyors and served as the Global President of RICS for 2017-2018.
A veteran business journalist, David is the editor of On-Site magazine, where he over- sees daily coverage of Canada’s construction sector and the publication of numerous industry reports, including Top Contractors. He has written for Canada’s largest papers and a range of business publications.
The longtime president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON), Richard has represented residential builders in Ontario for nearly three decades. He is a frequent speaker on issues such as inno- vation, health and safety and diversity, as well as regularly cited authority on housing issues throughout the Greater Toronto area.
Having retired this spring after nearly 20 years at the helm of the Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA), Clive Thurston has shifted to consulting. He has a long track record working on issues such as contract language, tendering and govern- ment relations, and is a consistent advocate for more collaboration and better communi- cation throughout the construction industry.
Nominations for the 2nd annual Top 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction are now open. Please refer to site40under40.ca to learn more, nominate a colleague, or self-nominate today!
The Top 40 Under 40 first appeared in the December 2020 issue of On-Site. Click here to read through the complete digital edition of the list.
—Profiles by Aaron Candido, SitePartners
—Editing and fact-checking by David Kennedy, On-Site