In 2003, in the heart of northeast Calgary, an idea was born. Following the closure of the company they had previously worked for, four former co-workers came together to discuss the possibility of using their combined experience, unique skill sets and passion for construction to manage their own general contracting company. Fast-forward 15 years and you will find a company that, with sustained dedication, continues to thrive while being rewarded with a fine reputation within the industry. What was once a four-person operation struggling to land work in a saturated market is now a leader in the mid-market construction industry. In uncertain times, one thing at Westcor Construction is certain – they are here to stay.
In the early days, president and CEO Bob Robinson and his founding partners, who are still shareholders, suffered from the usual, “Come back and see us when you have built up your company project resumé” response to requests for business, which made it a quiet and challenging first six months or so.
One of Westcor’s first jobs was partnering with St. James Church in Priddis to provide them with a new floor and a much-needed facelift. Westcor also landed a few public works interior projects at the Harry Hays Building, and from then on, work began to grow at a steady pace – and they haven’t looked back.
Westcor has built up a compelling culture which leverages its passionate employees to consistently deliver successful projects, build strong relationships within the community, and appreciate the efforts and importance of its trade partners – treating them as equals and ensuring they feel valued. Its culture is one of engagement and continuous improvement. Westcor employs over 70 permanent employees and they are all encouraged to be a leader in their own right and to participate in the decision-making process and continuation of the philosophy that has driven Westcor’s success since its inception, a value system known as The Westcor Way.
The company focuses on delivering mid-market commercial, institutional and industrial projects, and staying within that range has been a key to its success. It has also been rewarded for its experience in health-care work. In its first five years, up to 40 per cent of business was for the Calgary Health Region, and it continues to serve Alberta Health Services, currently active in many of its health facilities in Calgary and rural Alberta. Health care is a sector that requires the understanding of skilled crews working in active hospitals where there can be little tolerance for noise, dust and the general inconvenience to patients and staff.
Similar expertise is required in dealing with the challenges presented with working on seniors’ residences like Bow View Manor where Westcor crews have been carefully gutting and renovating four rooms at a time in the facility owned by the Brenda Strafford Foundation. And they have also completed projects at a number of occupied schools, ensuring that learning could seamlessly continue while construction took place.
Westcor’s largest educational project to date is the 90,000-square-foot addition to Renert School in northwest Calgary. The biggest commercial project under construction is the 125,000-square-foot warehouse addition to the Samaritan’s Purse facility in the northeast. Executive director Fred Weiss chose Westcor because they, along with Gibbs Gage Architects, clearly took the time to understand the nature of the project and proposed the best method of delivery.
A good deal of work is completed outside of Calgary and Westcor has worked hard at establishing good relationships with trade partners around central and southern Alberta. Westcor also supports the communities it works in. This year, it participated in Cornfest in Taber, where it just completed a modernization of St Patrick’s School.
Giving back has always been a big part of the company culture. Westcor understands that without the support of its community, friends and families, collaborators, and industry peers, it would not be where it is today. Throughout Westcor’s years working to Build a Better World, they have learned the importance of giving back to the community that has supported its growth.
Robinson is active in the industry as co-chair of the SAIT School of Construction fundraising committee, and as a trustee of the educational fund of the Calgary Construction Association (CCA). Robinson has served as past president of the CCA and the Calgary General Contractors Association, is a past board member of the Canadian Construction Association, and sits on council at the Lean Construction Institute of Canada.
Westcor promotes corporate social responsibility (CSR) and to celebrate their 15th anniversary, they launched Building a Better Community: A Westcor People-First Initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to give back to the community. For the first year, Westcor is committing to 15 acts of community kindness.
On September 14, they held a fundraiser celebration to formally kick off the initiative, leveraging their relationships with valued trade partners, business partners, and design consultants to sponsor Dare to Care’s bullying prevention program in 15 schools across Calgary.
Westcor also invited the community to support their September Towel Drive. Westcor heard that the Mustard Seed was having a towel shortage and knew it would be the perfect place to start with one of their community initiatives.
Robinson says, “We are proud to give back to the community that has helped shape who we are today. The launch of this initiative reaffirms our commitment to being of service to our community and our city.”
Westcor has shown through the years that it builds more than buildings, it builds relationships, and these relationships have defined the success of a construction company that for the last 15 years has maintained its inspiration to Build a Better World, The Westcor Way.