An employee’s years at Halsall Associates Ltd. usually begin at the recruiting event – perhaps a job fair for up-and-comers, or maybe one of Ottawa’s post- secondary institutions.
An employee of Halsall Associates Ltd. at the 2010 Employees' Choice Awards. (Photo by Mark Holleron)
The point is, says Halsall’s Albert Celli, the firm gets its engineers when they’re young.
The employees are paired with a mentor colleague and slowly, carefully, brought into the company.
It’s an approach that takes time, a lot more than other companies might put in. But Mr. Celli pointed out another large part of the structural engineering company’s recruitment comes organically – literally, from employees themselves bringing in friends or close colleagues.
“Being on the engineering side, the technical side, I think the differentator is our commitment to the team’s success. And that’s tied with career growth and shared growth,” he said.
The company was born in 1956 in Toronto, then expanded to Ottawa 10 years later when it decided the government town presented a tremendous design opportunity.
That decision has generated millions of dollars in contracts since. Halsall has had a hand in both the gigantic new trades centre building growing beside Algonquin College, and Export Development Canada’s new headquarters in downtown Ottawa.
The company’s roots in Ottawa expanded from working with architects to collaborating with major developers – these days, firms like EllisDon Corp. and Broccolini Construction.
“We didn’t feel the recession at all,” Mr. Celli said. “I’d say a strong 80 to 90 per cent of our growth is repeat clients, as opposed to new business, and fortunately we were well-positioned across different markets.”
The next market niche is Ottawa’s aging building infrastructure, which will supplement other rapidly growing markets for Halsall such as condominium projects.
“We’re planning to fix buildings, but really the main opportunities are in providing a holistic approach to make sure spaces are livable.”