PCL is a group of independent construction companies working in the areas of civil infrastructure, heavy industrial and buildings. These companies are owned by 4,400 salaried employee shareholders who carry out their professional and administrative duties with the support of 10,000 hourly tradespeople. With an annual construction volume of more than $7.5 billion, PCL is the largest contracting organization in Canada and one of the largest in North America.
The group’s construction businesses are supported by offices located in 31 major centres which support projects in Canada, the continental United States, Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands, the Caribbean and Australia. Headquarters is located at the Edmonton, Alberta office, with a U.S. head office in Denver, Colorado.
Contracts are carried out on a guaranteed minimum price, lump sum, unit price, cost plus, cost-reimbursable alternative, or integrated project delivery basis. PCL delivers projects as general contractors or as construction managers, or through the design-build approach, which allows clients to entrust all construction and consulting services to PCL. Group companies also act as contractors in public-private partnership (P3) projects, in which public and private sector partners share risks, returns and project responsibilities.
The group brings to its work considerable construction experience, competitive pricing, financial strength, integrity, a foundation of quality and workplace safety, and the demonstrated ability to take projects to completion.
PCL continues to conduct its business in the spirit of the principles set out by its founder, Ernest Poole. Those principles, known as Poole’s Rules, have guided the group from its simple beginnings to become the industry leader it is today.
PCL’s civil infrastructure projects are located in diverse geographic and environmental settings and include bridges, overpasses, road and rail tunnels, highway interchanges, water treatment plants, sewer systems, water pipelines, light rail transportation systems, dams, and port facilities.
Examples of PCL’s civil construction projects are the Toronto Pearson International Airport redevelopment joint venture, completed in 2008, and the Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge in Tennessee.
The heavy industrial business operates within the petrochemical, oil and gas, pulp and paper, mining, and power and cogeneration industries. Construction management services are the basis of the business, which also offers general contracting services for mechanical, civil and electrical construction, piping installation, and plant shutdowns and turnarounds. Projects include bulk liquid storage tanks, chemical plants, oilsands extraction facilities, oilsands bitumen upgraders, mineral processing plants, heavy industrial manufacturing plants, polyethylene plants, petroleum refineries, and oil pipelines and pumping stations.
Among past projects in which the heavy industrial business was a major participant were the Syncrude Canada oil sands facilities and the Horizons oil sands project in Alberta.
The diverse buildings business encompasses commercial, institutional, educational and residential projects. These include office buildings, condominiums, mixed residential/commercial buildings, parking structures, research centres, high technology manufacturing facilities, airport terminals, maintenance facilities, shopping malls, big box stores, warehouses, schools, hospitals, sports arenas, stadiums, art galleries, theatres, and community centres. Repairs and renovations to existing structures make up a large part of the buildings business.
Past projects include West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Brookfield Place in Toronto, Scotia Plaza in Toronto, Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Bankers Hall West Tower in Calgary, Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California, and the Hawaii Convention Centre in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Since its early years, PCL has directly procured a large portion of the construction products and materials needed in its projects. Increasingly the group has been sourcing from suppliers worldwide rather than relying entirely upon North American suppliers. The benefit to customers is construction products with a lower cost than those available in North America. Depending on the nature of the project, PCL uses worldwide suppliers as a complement to its traditional sources of supply. In doing so, the group has developed systems and tools for guiding the overseas procurement process and identifying quality suppliers.
PCL College of Construction, launched in 1990, is a professional development school which allows employees to keep themselves up-to-date in new technologies and to refine their supervisory, management and relationship-building skills. Most courses offered at the College are taught by PCL’s own internal experts. Career development guides enable employees to track their progress in their careers. The College is not a single physical location but rather takes place at each of the group’s operations.
In 2006, to celebrate the centennial of the business, the PCL Centennial Learning Centre was erected at the headquarters location in Edmonton. This building serves as the primary training facility for PCL and gives its far-flung employees an opportunity to visit headquarters and meet the people there.
Ernest Poole founded his construction firm in Stoughton, Saskatchewan in 1906 under the name E.E. Poole General Contractor. The basis of its service offering would be excellent workmanship, fair dealing with customers, and good value for the construction dollar. During the remainder of that decade construction projects centred on bank buildings, retail stores, town halls, rinks and schoolhouses, first within Saskatchewan, and then also in Manitoba.
In 1913 the firm incorporated as Poole Construction Company Limited and the following year moved its headquarters to its first city location, the young community of Regina. In spite of a slowdown in activity during the years of the First World War, the firm grew to become the largest general contractor in Saskatchewan by 1919.
The firm completed its first major construction contract, the Weyburn Mental Hospital in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, in 1921. The following year, it set up an office in Edmonton to construct the Edmonton Public Library on Jasper Avenue, and in 1924 expanded to Vancouver to construct the Bank of Montreal Main Branch on Hastings Street. 1925 marked the firm’s first use of concrete slipforms when it constructed harbour installations in Vancouver.
The firm moved its headquarters to Edmonton in 1932. By this time the firm, which had been in business for more than 25 years, faced the difficult business conditions of the Great Depression. To cope with the absence of building construction contracts, the firm diversified its activities into highway construction and irrigation. One such project, started in 1935, was the reconstruction of the Trans-Canada Highway between Cochrane, Alberta and Banff National Park. At the end of the 1930’s, as the Second World War loomed, the firm was also engaged in the construction of military installations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
Organizationally, asset management activities were separated from regular construction operations in the early 1940’s. The advent of the oil and gas boom in Alberta in 1947 meant new construction opportunities for the firm. A Calgary buildings office was set up at this time. Over the following decades the firm constructed numerous buildings, including schools, colleges, hospitals, multi-family residential buildings, government buildings and offices, in western Canada.
In 1948 Ernest Poole sold the firm to son John, who had started working there in 1934, and to son George, who had begun with the firm in 1938. The year of the sale, the firm began a ten year long partnership with Peter Kiewit Sons of Omaha, Nebraska to construct highways, airports other large projects.
The industrial side of the firm’s business first became significant in 1949 when the firm constructed an explosives plant in Calgary for Canadian Industries Limited. In 1952, in Edmonton, the firm constructed Canada’s first polyethylene plant for the same customer. Beginning in the 1950’s the industrial business also undertook power generating facility construction projects for utility clients. Meanwhile, on the buildings side, the firm used steel scaffold for the first time in its 1950 extension of the Macdonald Hotel in Edmonton.
Commencing in 1957 the firm engaged in major construction projects in the Northwest Territories, in particular in constructing the town of Inuvik in the Mackenzie Delta. Following on these activities, a buildings office was opened in Yellowknife in 1970. There had been no slowing of activity elsewhere in Canada during those years, with new buildings offices opening in Saskatoon and Winnipeg, and later in Toronto and Vancouver.
In 1975 the firm began its first project in the United States, an office building in Colorado Springs, Colorado. That year also, the firm for the first time became the largest general contractor in Canada by construction volume.
The firm’s owners, John and George Poole, sold the firm to 25 members of management in 1977. A holding company, PCL Employees Holdings Ltd., was established over the firm, which in the following year was given a new name, PCL Construction Limited. Great-West Life Assurance Company acquired a 15% interest in PCL Construction Holdings Ltd. at this time. This interest would be acquired by employees in 1990.
The concept of employee ownership was broadened following the sale. Ownership became spread across approximately 3,000 active employees who had demonstrated their value to PCL and their continuing commitment to it.
The PCL group’s first industrial fabrication shop was opened in Edmonton in 1978 to support its industrial operations. Much of the early work of the fabrication shop centred on pipe fabrication and module assembly for the Syncrude Canada oilsands project. A new fabrication shop would be opened in 1987 as the industrial business grew.
During the 1980’s expansion continued. A project to construct what would be the largest stayed-cable bridge span in Canada was awarded to the group, and projects were undertaken for the first time in southern California, Florida and Arizona. Projects in the latter two locations marked the group’s expansion into the heavy civil construction area in the United States. Offices in the United States, primarily in the buildings business, grew steadily in number during the following two decades.
In 1991 PCL’s industrial business became a partner in a portion of the Hibernia offshore oil project in Newfoundland. At the time, the Hibernia project was the largest construction project underway in North America.
The 1995 acquisition of Monad Constructors Ltd. marked PCL’s first acquisition of an external construction company by the group. Many more such acquisitions would follow.
PCL completed its first public-private partnership project in 2000 when it constructed 15 schools in Nova Scotia. This project was accompanied by the establishment of PCL’s Halifax office. Two years later the group established its first industrial business in the United States by acquiring the California-based construction division of another firm. With this acquisition came a major vessel/platework fabrication and module assembly facility.
In 2002 PCL began operating in the industrial services market in the United States through the acquisition of Fisher-Klosterman in California. The acquisition of shutdown contractor Melloy & Associates in 2004 enabled PCL to participate in the market for major industrial facility shutdown and maintenance work in central and northern Alberta.
Melloy Industrial Services Inc.
Nordic PCL Construction, Inc.
PCL Builders Inc.
PCL Civil Constructors, Inc.
PCL Construction Enterprises, Inc.
PCL Construction, Inc.
PCL Construction Management Inc.
PCL Construction Resources Inc.
PCL Construction Services, Inc.
PCL Constructors Bahamas Ltd.
PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
PCL Constructors Inc.
PCL Constructors Northern Inc.
PCL Constructors Pacific Rim Pty Ltd.
PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc.
PCL Energy Inc.
PCL Industrial Construction Co.
PCL Industrial Constructors Inc.
PCL Industrial Management Inc.
PCL Industrial Services, Inc.
PCL Intracon Power Inc.
President & CEO
Paul Douglas was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the PCL family of companies on November 1, 2009.
Prior to joining PCL in 1985, Mr. Douglas worked in a variety of field positions and then in project management at progressively higher levels. After joining PCL, he served in Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Ottawa, and Toronto before returning to Edmonton in 1997 to take up the position of President and Chief Operating Officer for Canadian buildings and civil infrastructure operations. From November 1, 2008 until October 31, 2009 he was President and Chief Operating Officer of Canadian Operations.
In 2004 Mr. Douglas received the Canadian Construction Association's General Contractor Award of Excellence – Robert Saunders Memorial Award in recognition of his contribution to the Canadian construction industry. In 2008 he was inaugurated into the Canadian Design-Build Institute's College of Fellows for his outstanding contribution to the enhancement of the Canadian design-build industry.
Mr. Douglas earned a bachelor of applied science degree in civil engineering from the University of Toronto in 1978 and is a Gold Seal certified project manager.