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Walsh building its culture in Canada


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June 1, 2013 by Patrick Callan

Walsh Canada is this year’s winner as the top Canadian contractor with 50 employees or less­­.

But don’t bet on them repeating in 2014 because there’s a good chance they will have out-grown the mid-size contractor category by then.

Since arriving in Vaughan, Ont. in 2010, the Chicago-based construction company––who does $4 billion per year in revenue from its 17 regional offices in North America––has expanded from six to 46 employees in three years.

In May, Walsh finished the first phase of the $273 million Women’s College Hospital project­­––a LEED certified 639,000 sq. ft. facility in downtown Toronto. It will be the first ambulatory care hospital in Ontario and the only one in the province with a primary focus on women’s health. Construction of the hospital began in July 2010 and is scheduled for completion in May 2015.

Walsh is building the 150,000 sq. ft. Steeles West subway station for the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension project. The $165-million project began in September 2011 and involves extensive civil and earthworks. It is expected to wrap up in February 2015.

And this summer, Walsh is starting a four-year $146-million project to upgrade a City of Toronto wastewater treatment building in Ashbridges Bay.

So what is Walsh’s secret for success?

“Culture,” says Craig Lesurf, general manager Ontario for Walsh Canada. “It stems from a 115-year-old family-owned and run company.”

And a commitment to investing in the local community, he adds.

Many Walsh employees serve on program advisory boards and lecture at post-secondary institutions in Toronto such as George Brown College’s Construction Technology Program and Ryerson University’s School of Architecture. “Walsh is big on supporting industry, interns and those coming into our industry,” he says.

Six local interns are currently working on Walsh’s Canadian projects as part of a company-wide internship program.

“These personal connections help to advance the education of the next generation of construction professionals,” he says.

Walsh supports the Helmets to Hardhats program to help Canadian veterans find jobs in the construction industry and is also involved with the Toronto Construction Association and Ontario General Contractors Association.

“We’re growing not only our future leaders but helping those that are in our industry get continuing professional development,” he says.

As for Walsh’s future in Canada, the company is looking to continue hiring and retaining good employees while expanding its horizons to bid on projects in British Columbia, Alberta and Newfoundland.

But no matter where the company goes, its success hinges on its local connections to the community, Lesurf says.

“We are committed to hiring local-based staff for all our Canadian projects,” he says. “Giving back to the local communities in which we operate is the fabric of Walsh and is deeply embedded in how we operate our culture.”