Construction leaders gather for ’25 Innovators’ celebration

Experts discussed motivating employees, standardization, remote work and more.

SiteNews Co-Founder Andrew Hansen interviews ’25 Innovators’ winners. – SiteNews

Key Takeaways:

  • The construction industry is increasingly embracing technology, moving from digitizing workflows to adopting tools that fundamentally change the nature of work.
  • While there is a need for flexibility and adaptation to remote work, maintaining in-person collaboration is crucial for innovation in the construction industry.
  • As companies grow, maintaining a culture of innovation and involving employees in decision-making becomes increasingly important. 

The Whole Story:

The Canadian construction sector’s most cutting edge companies were celebrated in downtown Vancouver last week with an evening of in-depth discussions, networking and awards. 

More than 100 construction leaders gathered for the 25 Innovators in Construction Awards Celebration, hosted and organized by SiteNews. 

Over 100 leaders from across Canada gathered at Earl’s in Yaletown, Vancouver.

SiteNews Co-Founder Andrew Hansen questioned some of the 25 Innovators In Construction award winners about their thoughts on the future of construction and some of the issues the industry faces. 

The first panel, made up of large general contractors and specialized contractors, discussed the shift from merely digitizing workflows to adopting transformative technologies that fundamentally alter the nature of work. It included PCL, Chandos, ETRO Construction, and Pitt Meadows Plumbing and Mechanical Systems

The speakers emphasized the significance of making jobs easier for individuals and fostering a culture of innovation that prioritizes collaboration and team dynamics.

“For us it was always about people. How do we make people’s jobs easier? How do we make our team’s jobs easier? How do we make it easier to collaborate as a group? And so that was the focus of innovation for us, and it continues to be our focus as we move forward,”

Mike Maierle, president of ETRO Construction. 
Mike Maierle, president of ETRO Construction, takes part in the evening’s first panel

The concept of “standard work” was also highlighted as a cornerstone for innovation, establishing agreed-upon processes and encouraging continuous improvements.

“We do standard work so at the end of two weeks we have measured it, we know how long it takes, and now we are looking for a change to make it better,” said Steve Robinson, owner of Pitt Meadows Plumbing and Mechanical Systems. “And once you have encouraged young people to see what real change is and how they can be involved in it, the ideas that come from the floor are mind boggling.” 

The speakers also expressed reservations about remote work, emphasizing the critical role of in-person collaboration for fostering innovation. The discussion explored the need to balance the benefits of remote work with the historical culture of on-site presence in the construction industry.

“You cannot get collaboration through a screen,” said Maierle. “However, we are company that is focused on families and we understand that there are things that happen. They have kids, they have lives, so you have to have some flexibility.”

Andrew Hansen (left) moderates the first panel with Mat Chrystian of Chandos Construction (middle) and Aaron Akehurst of PCL Construction (right).

The second panel focused on tech startups and more niche companies with a variety of focuses. It included Brickeye, Crewscope, SALUS and 505-Junk. Much of the discussion focused on how companies can attract and retain employees. 

Calvin Benchimol, co-founder and CEO of Crewscope noted that companies need to think differently about how to motivate their workforce. 

“Fear doesn’t work anymore,” he said. “We’re in a labor shortage world and it’s easier to find another job. Not sharing information with workers, that doesn’t fly either. We live in a technology age. We expect information to be really quick and accessible and transparent.”

He added that he believes there’s also a misalignment of incentives in the industry.

“Construction projects make money when they stay on schedule, but hourly workers get paid for the time they put in,” he said.

505-Junk Co-Founder Barry Hartman explained that his strategy has been to create skilled workers rather than go find them. He noted that there is no “university of junk” and his company is more interested in someone’s attitude than their resume.

“We’re not hiring really based on skill sets or experience,” he said. “We’re hiring based on people that want to join a fast growing company, an innovative company, and just trust that we have training processes in place to help them get to the next level.”

The event also marked nearly one year of launching SiteNews, a digital publication focused on equipping, educating and elevating the construction sector. The SiteNews team stated that they believe organizing the competition and the event reflected those goals and plan to build on that success going forward. 

Event Photos


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