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Focus on leadership PCL Construction

Alistair McKnight is the district manager for southern Alberta at PCL Construction. Photo by Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

You might say health and safety have long been an area of expertise for PCL Construction.

One of the leading firms in the industry across North America, the Edmonton-headquartered company knows a thing or two about mitigating hazards on the worksite.

So, when the pandemic hit, PCL moved quickly to ensure its workers and partners could continue operations safely, says Alistair McKnight, district manager for southern Alberta at PCL Construction, based in Calgary.

“We are used to dealing with risk and safety every day — it’s a massive part of our business — so we were able to pivot very fast to the new protocols.”

PCL’s projects carried on with few disruptions. Still, the firm — operating in the Calgary region since 1947 —  did face its fair share of pandemic-related challenges, like so many other organizations.

For one, the construction industry landscape changed as the private and public sectors began to rethink their physical footprints.

Many organizations are still trying to envision what the new normal for operations will look like in six months, in a year or even 10 years from now, he says. That’s where PCL has sought to help, tapping its culture of innovation and the strength of its people.

“A big part of that — especially on the commercial side — is helping them gain the confidence that now is the right time to build,” McKnight explains.

But the company has also cultivated green shoots of growth with new construction projects in food production, biotech, logistics and renewable energy. Forward-thinking, PCL has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

As one example, McKnight explains how work on solar projects in southern Alberta prior to the pandemic led to additional projects in the sector. 

“That’s good for everyone because clean energy is in high demand, but it’s also beneficial for PCL because it diversifies the work we do.”

PCL’s successful efforts have benefited not just its bottom line. The company has also been able to continue with its core value of supporting the community. 

“We’ve been very fortunate to continue and even increase our commitment to the not-for-profit sector.”

The Calgary Food Bank and Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter are among the many organizations PCL supports with donations, worker sweat equity and its own resources to build playgrounds and wheelchair accessibility ramps, he says. 

“This is all driven by our employees.”

Undeniably, their dedication is foundational at PCL — an employee-owned company.

What’s more, its workforce is increasingly diverse and aims to be the most inclusive in the industry, adds McKnight — who recently took over leadership of the southern Alberta operation. 

“That drive to move the industry forward stems from our values,” he says, adding the company’s approach pays dividends.

“We’re able to attract the best people, and it’s ultimately our people that make PCL successful.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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