That project required the contractor to bring about $290 million in gap financing to get the project started. With PCL as the lead in a 60/40 joint venture with Archer Western Contractors, the team landed the innovative contract, which was boosted with about $100 million in stimulus funding.

The contract includes about 1,100 drilled shafts (equaling about 5 miles in depth) and about 1.5 million sq ft of bridge deck (equal to about 40 acres). Add in a wide variety of AASHTO concrete beam types and precast segmental bridge erection, Richard says, and it's a real experience builder.

“It's a very interesting job,” he says. “You may have to go through three or four jobs to see (everything) you're going to see on this one job. Our young people are getting awesome exposure.”

Due to the contractor's makeup, with a significant number of engineers on board, it's those kinds of projects where PCL can excel, Martin says.

“With the depth of our talent pool, to challenge those people and take advantage of that talent, we have to go after projects that have something unusual about them,” he says.

Secret Ingredient

On both the building and civil sides, senior managers make a case that PCL's employee ownership drives the firm's efforts.

“Because you share in the ownership, there is a sense of pride in what we build and give our clients,” says Brown, the Orlando vice president. “Owners are dealing with people who own it and take pride in it.”

Bob Hopfenberg, director of business development in Orlando, says employee ownership enables PCL to attract and retain top performers. As a result, he says, over 70% of its business comes from repeat clients.

Staff development is another major focus. PCL invests heavily in training, running regular classes at its headquarters in Edmonton, Alberta. The contractor also maintains a training facility in Tampa, where employees are challenged to complete 35 hours of professional development each year.

It's paying off, says Grady.

“The excitement and the enthusiasm that our people have—particularly the younger ones—they really step up and come up with better and smarter ways of doing things,” says Grady, who's been with the company ever since she left FDOT as a construction manager 15 years ago. She's not going anywhere else, she says.

From PCL's perspective, even as change roils the industry and its own business, the outlook is bright.

“Without change, there is no positive energy,” says Richard. “It's a fascinating business, and there's plenty of opportunity.”