Piling Canada


A new leader in the Canadian surveying and geomatics industry
Written by Deb Draper
September 2020

A new leader in the Canadian surveying and geomatics industry

By Deb Draper


Combining the geomatics expertise of two leading professional services firms, GeoVerra is now providing solutions in land surveying, mapping, forestry and geospatial technology to diverse industries across Western Canada and Ontario.


In June 2020, GeoVerra was carved out from the geomatics divisions of WSP Global Inc., one of the world’s leading professional services firms and Altus Group Limited, a leading provider of software, data solutions and independent advisory services to the global commercial real estate industry. This new company is poised to deliver outstanding service through its experienced employees and its responsive, efficient, solutions-based approach.


The chief executive officer is John Nielsen, former vice president, operations and infrastructure at WSP Canada. In the Jan. 21, 2020, press release announcing the formation of GeoVerra, Nielsen said, “I am proud to have been entrusted to lead this new company. With a clear focus on geomatics, we will emerge as a leading geomatics firm in Canada, able to serve our clients with best in class geomatics services and expertise.”


Mitch Ettinger, now serving as chief operating officer at GeoVerra, came in from his position as president of Altus Group’s geomatics business group, where he focused on unparalleled client service with adherence to superb quality and rigid technical standards.


“We’re a new company, not a new start-up,” said Ettinger. “We’re basically a carve-out from the geomatics divisions of two public companies. So, although in one sense we are starting out, we have over 600 employees and the support and technical know-how of our legacy companies.”


Providing geospatial technology, survey and pre-planning, this newly defined company has employees that have been working with the piling industry for a long time. Ettinger said, “We have extensive experience with surveying deep foundations from cast-in-place piles to driven to screw – and then foundation work once it’s out of the ground. We can provide pre-​calculations, quality control checks and survey site control.”


The pile driving industry has relied on an understanding of the earth’s surface and what lies below for more than a 1,000 years, back to when the earliest builders were physically driving timber piles into the ground to strengthen their bridges and fortifications. With today’s rapidly expanding improvements in specialized software and equipment, predicting and measuring geotechnical resistance with incredible accuracy is now available at the touch of a finger on a computer screen.


That’s where the expertise of GeoVerra can make the difference with its ability to measure and interpret geospatial data in land surveying, remote sensing and geographic information systems. The incredible advances in computer science and software engineering of the past 25 years have made geospatial data key to information and insight for every industry around the world, and no less in foundation construction. Having the right information at the right time is critical.


“One thing that sets GeoVerra apart is that we are larger than most survey and geomatics companies, yet operate within an atmosphere of highly coordinated teamwork. We have a director of operational excellence on the leadership team who specializes in training, quality processes and efficiency. That’s an essential part of our client-focused approach.”


Ettinger says that because most of GeoVerra’s employees have been with the legacy companies for many years, there is still the sense of being part of a family. “We strive to maintain that as we move forward while continuing to keep safety, one of our core values, top-of-mind.”


At GeoVerra, safety really does come first. It’s recognized as a group effort and a lifestyle that works to the benefit of everyone. To that end, the company uses eCompliance, a web-based safety management platform that provides visibility into safety performance in real-time. This platform allows two-way communication between on-site employees and in-office management, thus strengthening engagement in safety at all levels of the organization. At GeoVerra, safety truly is a way of life, enhanced by technology as is every other aspect of the company.


Another defining factor of GeoVerra lies in its mandate to look for innovative approaches to the work they do, always. One example is an environmental sustainability initiative the company is currently working on: a technology called ExACT Emissions Monitoring – a patented greenhouse gas emissions monitoring technology.


Ettinger takes pride in the entrepreneurial spirit and strong work ethic of the company’s teams as they develop customized solutions for clients in diverse industries.


“Piling contractors are more and more moving to machine control, but may not have the knowledge or technical background to use the equipment to its full capability. We can provide support for that technology, complete the calculations, provide quality control, communicate with the design engineer to resolve potential issues, download the required information to the machines and have site control established so the piling contractors can run the piling machine themselves. This is where we can build mutually beneficial partnerships and really have a control and quality assurance process.”


Cutting-edge technical expertise and the extensive experience and scope of its team mean GeoVerra offers its clients a wide variety of geomatics services. With offices in 28 cities and towns across Western Canada and Ontario, the company can take on large, complex work, yet its extensive network allows it to be competitive for smaller projects at the local level.


“If there’s a piling contractor out there working in Western Canada or Ontario, we’re going to have an office close by,” said Ettinger. “At the same time, a multinational piling company could partner with us and have us on site for every project they work on.


“It’s an interesting time right now as we integrate our teams. The people we have, the technology … it’s amazing. And we’ve launched through a pandemic, which is no easy feat, but the work ethic and resilience of this group have made it a success.


“We’re a professional company with engineers and commissioned land surveyors. Piling contractors can be assured they are working with the best in the industry – professionals with incredibly high standards and certainly no worries about liability insurance. When piling contractors contact us, they know they’re going to get reliable results.”


The vision statement of GeoVerra is: To be the most trusted and respected geomatics company, consistently delivering reliable, forward-thinking solutions and unparalleled service.


This concept is what brought together two seasoned geomatics teams to work as one, developing and providing industry-leading solutions and world-class service to the Canadian geomatics landscape now and into the future. 




Category: Profile

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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.

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