Eastern Canada’s Multi-Sector Construction Leader
With more than 1 million man-hours logged annually, Gastier consistently ranks as one of Quebec’s largest construction companies in terms of man-hours paid. Over the last 50 years, Gastier has evolved to embrace a multidisciplinary approach, growing to become a full service firm specializing in both light industrial construction and heavy industrial construction as well as mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and heating services.
“The company became a one-of-a-kind multi-sector company, which is quite unique in Quebec and in the east of Canada,” says President Sylvain Gadoury. “We can offer to our clients a wide range of services covering all the detailed activity of construction.”
Plan Group, one of the largest specialized construction contractors in Canada, acquired Gastier in July 2015. After decades of being a family owned business, Gastier saw immediate advantages by joining forces with the construction giant. “There are a lot of benefits for our company and a lot of benefits for our client,” Mr. Gadoury points out. “First is that it brings corporate stability to Gastier because we are now part of a large, established, and solid group. It brings support for Gastier as far as financial and branding capacity. It is also really good news for our clients, as our capacity to execute larger projects, challenging projects, [has increased] drastically.”
Despite the change in ownership, Gastier’s company values will remain a steadfast foundation for the company. “We strongly believe that our ability to keep our leadership position resides in our core values.” Health and safety is the first and foremost of these company values. “Health and safety in construction is very important, so health and safety at Gastier is the [most significant] core value. And this has an impact on our other values. Because when we take care of our employees, we become an employer of choice. And then we can manage to achieve other [values and goals].”
Indeed, Gastier has a department dedicated exclusively to health, safety and the environment. The department advises and supports all personnel and reports directly to the CEO. The team has created a prevention program to prevent incidents and work-related injuries, both on worksites and throughout the entire company. The program focuses on health, safety, and worker protection by eliminating dangers at the source. The company has also produced a safety manual that clearly outlines everyone’s safety-related responsibilities at every level of the management and supervisory hierarchy. These efforts have paid off; Gastier’s health and safety rates are lower than the industry average in all of the company’s active business categories.
The second company value is quality. “We have been delivering quality for years and years,” Mr. Gadoury points out. “Sometimes the financials get a little tight, but we never make any compromise on quality.” Gastier is ISO 9001-2008 certified, demonstrating that the company meets the rigorous accreditation standards of a documented world-class quality management system.
Gastier’s third value is respect of the schedule. “In our industry, respecting or ameliorating the client schedule is very important. At Gastier we work with the appropriate resources and software and as a culture, we respect the schedule.” The company’s final value is respect for the client’s budget. “We work really hard, in partnership with our clients, to make sure that we are part of the solution to respect construction costs.”
Gastier’s positive values are reflected in high employee satisfaction rates. “Our company is oriented around the quality of the [human] resources and the wellbeing of those resources in the company. This is what differentiates us,” says Mr. Gadoury. Many employees started their career at Gastier and never left. “It is very common that you meet people at Gastier who have been in the company 15 years, 20 years, 25 years, and 30 years. We are an employer of choice.”
Projects and divisions
After half a century on the job, Gastier has successfully completed countless projects across its three main areas of expertise.
In the building division, Gastier’s teams of electricians and plumbers have worked on a wide range of jobsites, from factory and office building expansions and renovations to the complete construction of institutional and private facilities. “We do anything electrical or mechanical around building construction,” Mr. Gadoury explains. “We offer our clients an integrated solution.” This commitment continues beyond the construction stage to include simple upkeep and maintenance support.
Most recently, the company’s building division handled the electrical services during the construction of Montreal’s massive McGill University Health Center (MUHC), the largest hospital in Quebec. “This was a very challenging project. We did it on time and on budget, with excellent results in terms of health and safety.”
Gastier’s light industrial division also provides a “multi-trade, integrated solution of electrical and mechanical.” The team can handle everything from “smart” conveyor systems to assembly lines, carefully analyzing technical requirements and coordinating efforts to minimize the disruption to the client’s operations. A good project example within this division was the construction of the MIQRO plant, the world’s most advanced microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)/wafer level packaging facility. This $15 million, technologically advanced project required special care due to the facility’s high purity environment. The team successfully took care of all of the mechanical, process piping, heating, cooling and plumbing, completing the project in time despite the unique pressures of the job.
More than 50 percent of Gastier’s work comes from its heavy industrial division. “Once again, our industrial clients appreciate and value the integrated solutions we provide,” Mr. Gadoury explains. The company’s multidisciplinary approach allows the team to deliver a full range of services, from simple maintenance to complex work on major worksites in the petrochemical, aluminum, pulp and paper, and mining sectors. One of Gastier’s largest projects ever was a heavy industrial job for ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel and mining company. Gastier carried out a major expansion on ArcelorMittal’s mining facilities in Fermont, Quebec. The demanding, multidisciplinary project required a full scope of mechanical and electrical services and involved over 900 employees on site and a global value of more than $180 million.
Gastier’s diversified portfolio is helping the company maintain success in the midst of plummeting oil prices. “There are challenges,” Mr. Gadoury says of eastern Canada’s current construction climate. “We are right in the middle of important changes in the construction industry in Canada. The oil and gas [industry] is suffering with the low price of oil, so contractors like Gastier need to adjust their approach and be more multi-sector. Right now, we do a lot of training and we do a lot of follow-up with our resources to make sure that we can have a multi-disciplinary approach. This is the big challenge.”
The second most pressing challenge is a shortage of workers. “A lot of baby boomers are going into retirement,” and not enough young people are interested in a career in the construction industry. Gastier is focused on recruiting and training bright, young talent to ensure the company maintains a strong workforce far into the future.
Joining forces with Plan Group will help Gastier overcome these challenges; the acquisition will also give Gastier the backing its needs to go national. “Gastier will launch itself all across Canada,” Mr. Gadoury predicts. “The plan for the coming years is to have national coverage and a very good offer of integrated services to our clients all across Canada.”