Piling Canada

Keller Canada

Stepping Into the Global Arena
Written by Margaret Anne Fehr
June 2015

Stepping Into the Global Arena

By Margaret Anne Fehr

For the piling division of the North American Construction Group (NACG), 2013 proved to be a year of re-invention as the 30-year-old Canadian company became Keller Canada, a division of Keller Group Plc. (KGP), the world’s largest ground engineering company, headquartered in L`ondon, England.

“In July 2013, the deal was officially sealed as we were acquired by KGP,” said Bernie Robert, president of Keller Canada. “As a leader in piling, our team has more than 30 years of experience in a variety of climates and soil conditions across Canada, and we have a full range of piling technologies. Now we are connected internationally, and will continue to be at the forefront of the industry.”

Robert foresees a bright future for the newly branded company in the Canadian marketplace and gives insight on how the deal that married NACG-Piling and KGP came together.

“KGP identified Canada about two years ago as a prosperous economy and one that fit their strategic plan in terms of a country that they didn’t do a lot of business in, but one where they saw fairly good opportunities,” he said. “That’s what got them looking and, fortunately, it coincided with NACG marketing their piling division as a carve-out of their company. As it turned out, we met with the KGP folks a year ago in November 2012 and started discussions then.”

Regarding corporate structure, KGP operates in worldwide groups on every continent. The KGP-North American group consists of Canada and the United States, which encompasses a number of companies including Hayward-Baker, McKinney Drilling, Case Foundations in Chicago, Suncoast Post Tension, HJ Foundation in Miami, Anderson Drilling and Geo Foundations, while Keller Canada’s mandate is to operate exclusively within Canada.

Keller Canada operates out of seven regional offices, including Acheson, Alta. (Edmonton region), Calgary, Alta., Fort McMurray, Alta., New Westminster (B.C. region), Regina, Sask., Martensville (Saskatoon region) and Milton (Toronto region).


“We have a presence from Ontario to British Columbia with the exception of Manitoba, though we do work there periodically, as well,” said Robert. “Our commitment to quality is emphasized by our ISO 9001-2008 certified quality management program.”

Referring back to the history of NACG-Piling where Robert served as vice president for a number of years, he commented, “The company has grown a lot based on the growth of the oil sands. A good chunk of work has been done in Alberta and we have a very significant presence in the oil sands and mining sectors with an estimate of about 40 to 45 per cent of our work coming from Alberta.”

Keller Canada is headquartered in Acheson, Alta., which is situated just outside of Edmonton. The company has 550 employees with field personnel, and 100 corporate and support positions.

One of the ongoing hallmarks of Keller Canada’s customer offerings is its commitment to providing the appropriate operational solution or pile type according to the requirements of any given project.

“We look at our services on a broad base and believe that because we have a wide range of experience, we are able to offer the foundation solution that provides the best economics to our client,” said Robert.

“Based on our size and experience, we have the opportunity to use the right people and the right equipment for the demands of the work. Our experience means that we probably have used a certain type of equipment for a different application over the years and have built on that experience. Beyond that, because we can look at different markets, we can build that capital justification based on the likelihood of using equipment in Alberta, or moving it to Saskatchewan or buying it in Ontario, and having the flexibility of mobilizing it back to B.C.”

The Keller Safety Framework
“Though it’s only been six months since the KGP acquisition, Keller Canada has benefited from the Keller Safety Framework initiative, whose corporate mantra is THINK-SAFE. We’ve successfully married that program with what we’ve already accomplished as NACG-Piling in the past,” said Robert.

“Personally speaking, it’s a very important aspect to me. I think we have a moral obligation to make sure that we provide the utmost safety in working conditions for our employees. I come to work every day and expect to go home in one piece, and I believe that everyone else should have that same opportunity. We want to make sure that our people who are working in what are typically more threatening and dangerous environments have the implicit confidence that they are working in a controlled manner that identifies and mitigates hazards.”

Robert points to Keller Canada’s statistics around workers’ compensation reports, refunds and categorization that provides the proof that the company is fulfilling its commitment to employees for providing a safe organization that is cutting-edge and industry leading.

Safety is a paramount issue for Keller Canada, but there are other aspects of the company’s culture that Robert is keen to highlight.

“One of the things we pride ourselves on here is our people. Anyone can go out and buy piling equipment and say they’re a piling company, but it’s the people who bring their expertise and knowledge to the table that really make the difference. We like to think that we cherish and value our people above all else, and we build a lot of programs around making sure they are looked after and that they find intrinsic value in the jobs they perform.”

Keller Canada has also always made a point of reaching out to the community for renewal and to create reciprocal work-related benefits.


“We make sure that we go out of our way to hire co-op students from various universities and trade schools in the markets we work in, and provide them with training opportunities and support to work up in our organization,” said Robert. “We’re embarking on the new co-op and recruiting season now at the universities. It’s important to us and represents an investment in the future. I think we have a very young, vibrant workforce and it’s always being refreshed by bringing these new folks in the doors. They bring new energy and new ideas and are a really positive influence within our company.”

Staying busy
Business has been brisk for Keller Canada over the last six months, with notable projects including the construction of a major transmission line between Edmonton and Calgary.

“It’s a fairly significant job. As well, we’ve recently been awarded more work in the oil sands and in the potash mines in Saskatchewan,” said Robert.

Other projects include the Fort Hills Load Testing north of Ft. McMurray, Alta. to supply, install and load test-driven steel pipe for facilities on Suncor’s Fort Hills Oil Sands project, representing a $4.5-million contract; Evergreen Line CPR Special Structures in Port Moody, B.C. and Evergreen Live Pinetree Special Structures in Coquitlam, B.C. to supply and install steel pipe piles to depths of 80 feet to 100 feet for the upcoming Skytrain line, with combined contracts of approximately $8 million; the 407 Toll Highway expansion in Whitby, Ont. that includes the installation of steel H-pile for 30 new bridges and rock-socketed caissons for 10 other bridges, representing a $7-million contract and the High Prairie Health Complex in High Prairie, Alta. that includes the design, supply and installation of Continuous Flight Auger (CFA) piles to support three structures that represents a $4.5-million contract.

Working within KGP, Robert has a strong sense that the international company has confidence in its original decision to acquire the former NACG piling division.

“They obviously did their homework in the years leading up to the deal when they saw that Canada provides a fairly stable economy with a stable political environment and frankly, as the world is developing, we have a very rich and still somewhat undeveloped resource base,” he said. “I think that they see a great opportunity based on those reasons for the long-term and are pleased with the acquisition. If you look at their track record, when they move into a country, they are there for a very long time. This is not a buy-and-flip situation.”

With the logistics of acquisition and the integration from NACG to Keller Canada now in the rearview mirror, the company is getting down to business as usual.

“The bidding season is getting underway right now following the holiday season, so there’s certainly a lot of opportunity on the horizon,” said Robert. “We’ve got our feet squarely underneath us and are operating independently as Keller Canada. We’re really excited about the opportunities.”

{fastsocialshare} 🍁

Category: Profile

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.

Sign Up

Submit your email to receive our e-newsletter.