Making waves: Stormtec Water Management celebrates 20 years

Stormtec reflects on two decades of serving their customers.

Reputation is everything in construction.

While the technology and complexity of work has changed, the value of a strong reputation has remained. 

For service provider Stormtec Water Management, reputation has connected it with the nation’s largest contractors, won it work on multi-billion dollar mega projects, grown its workforce to more than 90 and carried it to its 20th anniversary. 

“There are thousands and thousands of hours of effort, good days and bad days, that go together to build that reputation. We work as hard as we can to maintain it,” said Chris Jakul, Stormtec’s Director of Regional Operations and a 15-veteran at the company.

Water management services cover a lot, but it essentially comes down to solving any sort of problems water could cause at a construction site while also protecting the environment.

“We extract, move and clean water,” said Jakul. “Our clients are expert builders and expert contractors, but they are not water experts and water can become a huge hindrance to completing work on time and on budget.” 

Building trust

Founded in 2003, Stormtec initially focused on filtering water on residential and commercial developments in the Lower Mainland. Over time, they expanded their capabilities to work on contaminated sites and work with cities on infrastructure projects like sanitary sewer system upgrades requiring temporary bypass solutions. Wherever there was opportunity, they flowed. 

“We have grown organically over the last 20 years, adding services while we perfected existing ones and hiring people to develop those services,” said Jakul. 

They are now fast approaching nearly 2,500 projects under their belt. One of their first big breaks on larger infrastructure work was doing filtration systems for the cut-and-cover portion of the Canada Line Skytrain project in Vancouver.  

“That really raised awareness for us at that time,” said Jakul. “Our type of work was in a really new part of construction. It was very new to have to do more than simply just pump muddy water out of the excavation and let it run down the street to need to filter it. That was a new idea. That really set the stage for us.”

With offices in B.C. and Alberta, as well as a growing reputation for tackling challenging work, their footprint grew. Stormtec’s team went on to work on Calgary West LRT, Confederation Line LRT, Kitchener Waterloo LRT, Pointe Du Bois spillway replacement, Ruskin Dam upgrades and even Canada’s largest current project, the Site C Dam. 

“It’s pretty hard to drive around Vancouver, Burnaby, Calgary or Richmond without seeing new towers we have worked on. In Calgary, especially since 2009, we’ve done probably 95% of the new high-rise development in the city,” said Jakul. “Everybody at Stormtec is like a little kid when we see a big crane or a dump truck or excavator. We’re all geeks when it comes to construction work, so being able to see our part in that finished product is a source of pride.”

While Stormtec is proud of the size and scope of their projects, they are also proud of their impact on the environment. 

“We take our responsibility to return clean water back to the environment very seriously,” said Jakul, fondly recalling the times he has seen water from their projects safely discharged directly back into aquatic habitat.  

Massive growth

In 2003, Art Cote established Stormtec in his garage. Over time, the company proved to be very successful and grew to be a leader in the water treatment industry.  However, Cote realized that changes were necessary to take the business to the next level. In 2014, he decided to seek the help of a consulting firm, Bellrock Benchmarking. The firm was retained to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the business and identify various areas that needed attention, including the need for new leadership.

After a careful evaluation, it was recommended that Stormtec should hire a new President and CEO to replace Cote. Following this recommendation, the company appointed Leonard Firkus as the new President and CEO in 2015. 

“Leonard brought with him a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to the business. He quickly implemented new strategies to revamp the company’s operations,” said Cote. “Under his leadership, the company has experienced substantial growth and success. This is thanks to his innovative approach to problem-solving and his ability to motivate the team. The company has been thriving ever since the change in leadership, and it continues to grow and expand its operations.”

This is not an easy feat in the water management sector. 

“The water management industry is very competitive,” explained Jakul. “There’s a high volume of players and I think being around for 20 years proves that we’ve earned it. You’re not given much and we’ve separated ourselves. It proves the quality of our work.”

Stormtec’s team isn’t ready to slow down. They opened new location on Vancouver Island last year and plant to expand their footprint in the region 

“We want to have an Island-based provider giving the same level and quality of service as you get in the larger centers,” said Jakul. “That is really important for us.”

In the coming years, the company’s goal is to triple in size (again), and grow to have permanent operations in more areas.

Being grateful

Reflecting on 20 years, Stormtec’s team plans to use the anniversary as an opportunity to thank its customers and its employees. During the past two decades, some of its biggest customers have been a group that they refer to as the “super generals”. They include PCL, Kiewit, Graham, EllisDon, and Ledcor. Stormtec also noted developers like Centreville, Axiom, Bosa Properties and Embassy also have continued to use their services. 

Despite many years spent working alongside these clients, Stormtec never wants to feel entitled.  

“We will never stop continuing to earn their trust,” said Jakul. “We don’t believe for a second that all of their work is going to come to us because we deserve it. We work on all of their projects as hard as we can to ensure that they want to use us on the next project. we want them to choose us, not to be forced to use us.”

Jakul also thanked Stormtec’s dozens of employees for working long hours and tackling challenging jobs. 

“We ask a lot of our teams during the busiest times of year,” said Jakul. “That’s just part of a cyclical business. That is Construction. During those times they give us everything so it’s not even just thanking them. It’s thanking their families as well for allowing them to put in the hours that are needed.” 

If you are looking for a partner on your project to assist with water management. Get in touch with Stormtec’s team.


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