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Company Profiles

  • Solid Foundation

    Pinnacle Drilling Products excels as an industry “total solutions” provider

    By Lisa Gordon

    When Allan Zdunich founded Pinnacle Drilling Products back in 2007, the Vancouver,

    B.C.-based company supplied drilling tools and products to the oil and gas, mining, construction, geothermal and waterwell industries. Its first shop was a mere 2,000 square feet, and it was home to just four employees.

    But Zdunich – a drilling industry veteran who is marking 50 years in the field this year – was clearly onto a good thing. It took only eight years for Pinnacle to grow into a new facility in Burnaby, one that is five times bigger than its original shop.

    In 2011, a company restructuring initiative brought in more capital to fund targeted growth.

  • Solution Revolution

    Kochi, Japan-based Giken Group of Companies has driven five decades of success by finding innovative construction solutions that benefit society

    By Kelly Gray

     

    For over 50 years Japan’s Giken Group of Companies (Giken Ltd.) has been making revolutionary advances in piling technology.

  • Strength in Numbers

    SPL Consultants Limited offers a wealth of engineering expertise under one roof

    By Kelly Gray

    Strength in numbers is behind the growth of Toronto-based SPL Consultants Limited (SPL), a full-service, multidisciplinary ground engineering firm with offices in seven locations (Toronto, Vaughan, Cambridge, Ottawa, Markham, Barrie and Collingwood) across Ontario. The company’s wide-ranging specialties have allowed it to grow in five years from a group of five employees to a cohort that offers more than 250 highly experienced engineers, environmental scientists, hydrogeologists, technologists, biologists and support personnel. Since opening in 2009, SPL’s capabilities have had them working on ten of the top 100 jobs in the country as cited by Renew, and had industry watchdog Ernst & Young nominate them for Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year.

    Behind their success is a willingness to be market sensitive.

    “We have grown thanks to our quality of service, our ability to bring value into the engineering model and establish fair pricing,” said SPL Consultants principal, Fanyu Zhu, Ph.D., P.Eng., who adds that they are competitive without sacrificing quality. “We saw from the outset that there was a business opportunity that could be maximized if we could attract the people with the right skill sets and talent. I believe we have done just this.”

  • Strength in Numbers

    SPL Consultants Limited offers a wealth of engineering expertise under one roof

    By Kelly Gray

     

    Strength in numbers is behind the growth of Toronto-based SPL Consultants Limited (SPL), a full-service, multidisciplinary ground engineering firm with offices in seven locations

  • Strong and Steady

    Trottier Piling enjoys staying small and dependable

    By Jim Chliboyko

    For Manitoba’s Joey Trottier, construction hasn’t just been his own lifelong trade; it’s more like a family birthright. Trottier, president of Trottier Piling, is a fourth-generation, Winnipeg-based pile driver. He, his father, his grandfather and his great-grandfather were all in the business. In fact, his grandfather was even an inventor of a collapsible rig, back in the 1960s.

    “My grandpa invented a pile driver,” said Trottier. “I have all the patent papers from the U.S. of the rig. I have one of the rigs here, and that’s what my father started with... We don’t use it; it’s going to become a decoration.”

    Sure enough, Trottier eventually sent Piling Canada a scan of blueprints, marked “D. E. Trottier” at the top, entitled Mobile Collapsible Pile Driver, filed on Nov. 23, 1960. There’s also a retro, faded Polaroid affixed to the papers; a photo of the black and tomato-red rig in question sits in a bushy, summery (and probably Floridian) compound, with a pickup truck parked off to the side.

  • The Market Leader

    Solutions-based company Structal-Bridges goes above and beyond

    By Margaret Anne Fehr

     

    Structal-Bridges is the largest steel bridge supplier in Canada. The compa-ny, established in 1956, is a division of Canam Group Inc.

  • The Next Step

    Anchor Shoring Group is acquired by GFL Excavating Corporation - Offering demolition, excavation and shoring services together

    By Barb Feldman

    “There’s a lot of big news in our world!” said Dawn Tattle, the president of Anchor Shoring & Caissons Ltd. After six months of discussions and just a few weeks into the New Year, the Anchor Shoring Group was bought by GFL Excavating Corporation, a division of Green for Life Environmental (GFL). Tattle and Anchor vice-president Derrick Speakman have become shareholders in GFL and will continue their current roles at Anchor. 

    Anchor Shoring and Caissons was founded in 1968 by Dawn’s father, Gord Demetrick, and Gord Stack, and the two partners were soon joined by her uncle, Al Demetrick. The company expanded over the years, and by 1975 it included Banner Piling and Excavating, which specializes in pile driving, sheet piling and continuous flight auger projects, and Crown Drilling, formed to drill tiebacks. 

  • The Pile Driving Contractors Association

    A driven pile is a tested pile

    By Heather Hudson

    If there’s one thing Steve Hall is passionate about, it’s the driven pile.

    He’d have to be. As executive director of the Pile Driving Contractors Association (PDCA), his calendar is like a “Where’s Steve?” version of the “Where’s Waldo?” cartoon. 

    From PDCA headquarters in Orange Park, Fla., he regularly criss-crosses North America to represent the association at educational seminars, conferences and meetings that bring together the piling industry and the professions with which it intersects.

    PDCA wasn’t always this prolific. In fact, its origin story

    involves a meeting of a handful of people at an airport hotel. “In 1995, there were a few forward-thinking, entrepreneurial-type individuals who believed in the benefits of representing the driven pile industry solely and independently without any conflicts from other foundations,” said Hall.

    Industry players and business owners quickly gravitated to the association that offered advocacy and a consistent voice in the industry, as well as educational programs and networking opportunities. While membership enjoyed a steady growth, things have really taken off in the last 10 years. 

  • The Science – and Art – of Geostructural Engineering

    Working as a team to identify and solve complex challenges requires both discipline and creativity

    By Barb Feldman

     

    Since 1972, when Brian Isherwood founded his one-man shoring and foundations design firm, Isherwood Geostructural Engineers (IGE) has continually evolved, refining and expanding its specialized services to include analysis, review, field inspection and monitoring of foundations and excavation support.

  • Ticket to Ride

    ADSC, NAIT preparing drill rig operator certification

    By Heather Hudson

    Some call it a safety blind spot in the drilling industry. Others accept the status quo.

    Kevin Sharp is more blunt.

    “To operate a fork lift, zoom boom or skid steer, you need a safety ticket. But when it comes to using a $2-million drill rig, there’s no ticket required. The fact that you don’t need a ticket to run a 200-ton piece of equipment doesn’t make sense,” he said.

    The owner of Sharp’s Construction and president of the Western Canadian Chapter of the International Associ-ation of Foundation Drilling (ADSC – IAFD) is doing something about it.

    “There has been significant damage to equipment and people severely hurt in our industry,” said Sharp. “I think with proper education and guidance we can get better operators.”

  • Total Package Performance

    Courtesy of GrahamFrom below ground to roof cap, Graham is a company that does it all

    By Kelly Gray

    Not all construction companies are created equal. In construction and project management, the smart money goes with a firm that can manage and self-perform all challenges from below ground to rooftop. For nearly a century, Calgary-based Graham has been such a player. Indeed, with revenues exceeding $2 billion, Graham has become an industry leader by earning its place at the top as a complete one-stop-shop where clients get the benefit of substantial expertise and experience that extends from commercial projects to industrial sites to massive infrastructure undertakings.

    It all comes down to a simple equation, says construction manager, Earthworks, Underground & Piling, Andrew Sneddon.

  • Total Package Performance

    From below ground to roof cap, Graham is a company that does it all

    By Kelly Gray

     

    Not all construction companies are created equal. In construction and project management, the smart money goes with a firm that can manage and self-perform all challenges from below ground to rooftop. For nearly a century, Calgary-based Graham has been such a player. Indeed, with revenues exceeding $2 bil-lion, Graham has become an industry leader by earning its place at the top as a complete one-stop-shop where clients get the benefit of substantial expertise and experience that extends from commercial projects to industrial sites to massive infrastructure under-takings.

  • Tough Performer

    Courtesy of TraxxonBurnaby-based Traxxon Rock Drills has earned an excellent reputation for building tough and innovative equipment, and for selling and supporting quality products from other manufacturers

    By Kelly Gray

    When you build and support equipment for use in the wilds of British Columbia, you make it strong and you build in innovation and performance. This is what the founder of Traxxon, Mike Horvat, did in the early 1960s. Today, Traxxon has carried on this tradition with a full line of drilling equipment, components and accessories that are among the best in the industry.

    The early days saw the company solely focused on the coastal forest industry. This is when they converted WW2 Sherman army tanks into mobile drilling equipment called tank drills, allowing mobility in the rugged coastal mountain terrain. It’s also where they came up with their innovative 360-degree positioner allowing drilling at virtually any angle.

    The tradition of building rugged and innovative equipment for Traxxon’s expanding customer base carried on with Steve Cross taking over the business from Horvat in the 90s. Cross, who had started working with Horvat early in his career, was able to take the company to the next level of innovation with his team, designing an excavator mounted drill attachment – the TR-EX. Highly successful in Western Canada, the TR-EX has proven itself in both forestry and construction, and it has also been sold to customers around the world.

  • Up and Coming

    Backed by one of the country's premier construction and infrastructure development companies, Aecon Foundations is expanding its role in Canada's piling industry

    By Mark Halsall

     

    Aecon Foundations has been installing piles for almost 50 years. But it wasn’t until 2013 that the Calgary-based company began to ramp up its deep foundation business in a really big way.

  • Up to the Challenge

    How innovative products from American Piledriving Equipment are proving their worth in the Canadian North

    By Mark Halsall

    It’s called the Polar Penetrator. When it comes to piling work in the Canadian North, it’s hard to think of another piece of equipment that’s more aptly named.

    The Polar Penetrator drill bit was invented by American Piledriving Equipment (APE) and is part of the company’s HD Driver system that’s uniquely suited to deep foundation construction in cold, northerly locations.

    “It’s a drill bit that executes typically in frozen tundra or ground with permafrost or discontinuous frost, and I tell you what, it’s a game-changer,” said Colin Grindle, Canadian regional manager for APE. “We’ve been able to tackle any project in any terrain with our HD system.”

  • View from the Top

    By Miriam Itzeck, Agra Foundations Limited

    As Agra Foundations Limited approaches its 60-year anniversary, the company looks back on its history of being one of the top foundation contractors in Western Canada, and charts its future as part of one of the largest and most diversified construction companies in the world.

    Four years ago, when Agra was acquired by Soletanche Bachy, a world leader in geotechnical engineering and construction, it ultimately became part of the VINCI construction group. While Agra continues to operate as an autonomous company providing geotechnical and deep foundation solutions to its clients throughout Western Canada, it can now rely on international partners to combine resources and provide the highest value solutions to local markets.

    “Building on Agra’s history and access to diverse technical strength is what really enables us to provide superior service to our clients,” said Jonathan Hazenberg, P.Eng, who was promoted to the role of Agra’s president in July 2014. Hazenberg joined Agra in early 2014 and brings a strong background in foundations, construction management, business development and leadership. With a refreshed management team, Agra is further leveraging the benefit of the relationship with Soletanche Bachy to bring global expertise to its local market.

     

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  • Walk the Talk

    TEI Rock Drills in committed to quality and performance

    By Kelly Gray

     

    Drilling rock is hard work. Harder still can be making the equipment that has to pass the test in the field. Since 1980, TEI Rock Drills has been passing this test thanks to winning technology, a custom approach and a “get-‘er-done” attitude born from founder Bill Patterson’s desire to do things better. Today, Patterson’s family business is a world-leading manufacturer of drilling attachments, limited access drills and drill rig components. 

  • Winning Formula

    Formula Contractors Ltd. gains ground in a broad range of projects thanks to diverse capabilities

    By Kelly Gray

    Western and Arctic construction projects have been turning to Prince George-based Formula Contractors Ltd. for the right equation for job success since 1977. In the early days, the company was known as Formula Pile and Bridge. Growth in its capabilities and skill sets saw it refresh the business moniker to reflect the fact that the company was growing to be more than spanning rivers and pounding foundations.

    The breadth of their expanding operations, from Manitoba west to the Pacific Ocean and U.S. border at the 49th parallel north to the Beaufort Sea including Yukon and N.W.T., includes the full range of construction services from project management to structures such as massive steel drainage culverts, to mine site development and reclamation to renewable energy (Formula Contractors built B.C.’s first wind farm foundations at Dawson Creek) as well as some of North America’s most demanding highway and bridge work, not to mention a wide range of foundation projects.

    “We wanted to diversify so we changed the name to reflect that we do so much more than just piling and bridge work,” said partner and project manager, Phil Toma, pointing to a long list of services that include road and earth works, equipment and portable bridge rentals, material handling and structural steel erection to name just part of the menu. “When I started with Formula Contractors 10 years ago, we had just 10 to 15 guys on crews. Now we have a crew cohort that number 30 to 40 and have had up to 120 workers on some jobs. We also have a professional engineer on staff that joined us from B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation.”

  • Winning with Attitude

    Westco Drilling & Piles Ltd. continues its success in deep foundations

    By Kelly Gray

    Westco Drilling & Piles Ltd. has been very successful in the drilling and piling industry. The company is committed to delivering quality service with trained, professional personnel that have the skill set to complete any project with their extensive fleet of drilling and piling equipment.

    Founded in 2004 and based out of Fort Macleod in southern Alberta, Westco Drilling & Piles Ltd. was started by three principals: Trevor Anderson, Derek O’Connor and Theo Van Ee, who wanted to branch out from Westco Construction, a company that builds pre-fabricated steel buildings, and into offering cast-in-place (CIP) services.

    According to Anderson, with the Fort Macleod firm, Westco Drilling & Piles Ltd. started their new venture with a Texoma 270 pressure digger and has since upgraded and accumulated a fleet of various drill rigs, consisting of Highway FD series drill rigs as well as a Watson drill rig. Both truck and track mounts range in depths of 30 to 80 feet and diameters of 16 to 84 inches.

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About Us

Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.