Winner: Kemway Contractors
CEO: Terry Kemp
Head Office: Edmonton
In 1990, Terry Kemp started Kemway Contractors with his father, who had run a general contracting business for many years. Kemp’s father was nearing retirement age, so partnering with his son made sense. Even so, Kemp says it took a number of years for the business to really get going. Today, however, the company that started as a father-and-son endeavour is now a $30-million business. Kemp’s father retired in 2002, but along with other partners, Kemp has been able to “take the bull by the horns” and carry on the legacy.
He may not do hands-on contracting work anymore, but Kemp keeps busy heading up business development and leadership at the company. And he’s doing a good job. Kemway boasts a near-perfect completion rate, with over 90 per cent of their projects completed on time and on budget. Kemp credits this achievement to his employees and he considers it his role to foster an excellent working environment. “I want my people to be successful so I help them become successful,” he says. “That’s how I look at it.”
In the last five years, Kemway has made significant headway in improving company morale. The company went through a period of defining its values and culture, followed by a period of working to improve them. Kemp got together with the entire Kemway team to discuss the company’s goals and values. Now, new employees enter a great working environment. Kemp describes a new safety employee who started at Kemway and was blown away by the spirit of “collaboration and participation.”
Kemway stands out among other general contractors and, for Kemp, it all has to do with their unique culture. “The construction industry is known for its dog-eat-dog mentality,” he says. “It’s a competitive environment, especially now with the way the economy is, and we want to be ... different.” If an employee makes a mistake, which inevitably happens now and again, Kemp takes the time to respond, educate and correct the situation. “We don’t just cut [employees] off at the knees and say, ‘You’re done,’” Kemp says. “We figure out what went wrong and where we can we help.” It’s this kind of environment that sets Kemway apart. As Kemp says, “We’re never going to sit back, say we got there and ride off into the sunset – we’re always looking to make it better.”
Fine Line Consulting
CEO: Doug Roberts
Head Office: Calgary
After providing consulting services in the pipeline industry as an employee for seven years, Doug Roberts founded Fine Line Consulting in 1996. Creating the company allowed Roberts to offer a breadth of consulting services ranging from project estimating to pipeline replacement. Twenty years later, Fine Line has 28 full-time employees and revenues over $8 million. Roberts credits his success to always asking tough questions, no matter how trivial, that will lead to innovative improvements.
Rockwood Custom Homes
CEO: Allison Grafton
Head Office: Calgary
In 2009, Allison Grafton and Grainger Nimmo co-founded Rockwood Custom Homes and began providing exclusive, boutique custom home construction and renovations. Today, Rockwood has grown by 25 per cent year-over-year and has built a reputation in the Calgary area of completing projects in a timely manner and on budget. The company is also responsible for building the first ever net-zero home in Calgary.