By Edmonton Made January 1, 2017


PCL is a group of independent construction companies that carries out work across Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, and in Australia. The organization has operations in the civil infrastructure, heavy industrial, and buildings markets. PCL is the largest contracting organization in Canada and one of the largest in North America. Edmonton is home to PCL's North American Headquarters.

We asked Shane Jones some questions about his Edmonton Made business. Here's what he had to say:

When did you start your business and why?

PCL is now 110 years old. Ernest Poole started the company in Saskatchewan in 1906. Poole later opened the first PCL office in Edmonton in 1922.

Why did you start your business in Edmonton?

Mr. Poole moved the head office to Edmonton in 1932, in an effort to grow the business as he believed Edmonton was about to become a major centre with plenty of construction work to come.

What was your biggest challenge in the early days of your business?

The Depression of the 1930's. Poole Construction survived by diversifying into roadwork and building highways.

What is your biggest challenge today? 

Many of the challenges that existed 100 years ago still exist today. We still deal with a fluctuating economy, and occasional scarcity of a skilled workforce. Others are more recent phenomena such as global competition and rapidly changing demographics. We view most challenges as opportunities to improve ourselves, and have done so over time through significant geographic and sectoral diversity, expanding our footprint, and adapting the services we offer to meet current client needs. 

Do you have a support network? What does that look like?

PCL's support network revolves around the Office of the CEO, and the nine executives in it. PCL's senior leadership offers a diverse array of experience in the building, civil infrastructure, and industrial sectors. Their knowledge of running successful construction operations makes PCL an excellent strategic partner for clients who are looking for a general contractor that will provide solutions to add value to their businesses. PCL's leadership team will share your vision of success and can deliver any type of facility to the highest standards of quality and efficiency.

Are there any particular resources (local programs, blogs, webinars, video series, forums, books, etc.) you used to help scale/develop your business that you'd recommend to small businesses? 

Mentorship is a major initiative at PCL and an excellent way for years of construction knowledge to be passed down from generation to generation. It is a method that can be easily taken on by other businesses. There are few shortcuts - investing time in making your people great will drive business results. Employee ownership is worth a hard look as well. We attribute much of our ongoing success to the fact that we remain a 100% employee-owned company. 

Is there a piece of advice you would like to pass on to other Edmonton Made businesses? 

Our founder recorded his key operating principles in a document called Poole's Rules. These simple truths have served us well over the years and continue to do so today, as they would for many other businesses:

  1. Employ the highest grade people obtainable.
  2. Encourage integrity, loyalty and efficiencies.
  3. Avoid side lines.
  4. Do not permit side lines by employees.
  5. Be fair in all dealings with owners, architects, engineers and sub-contractors.
  6. Keep your word as good as your bond.
  7. Give encouragement and show appreciation.
  8. Be firm, fair and friendly.
  9. Avoid jobs where design is not good or financing doubtful. Let your competitors have these.
  10. Good accounting and cash keeping are essential.
  11. Do not let finishing up of jobs or collecting payments lag.

Is there an Edmonton Made business you're cheering on? 

PCL encourages all Edmonton Made businesses to be successful to keep our city strong economically.

At your size, do you still feel your business is 'Edmonton Made'? In what way?

Very much so. While PCL is a large international company, our largest presence is still right here in Edmonton with close to one thousand employee shareholders. Our PCL family is very happy being a part of this community and continuing to build it now, and well into the future.

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