The 9 biggest contractors with employee ownership

Did you know many of the largest construction companies in the country are employee-owned?

PCL crews work at an industrial site. – PCL

If you could own part of your employer, would you work harder, dig deeper and pay more attention to the details? These companies believe that employee ownership can be a significant motivator for success.

The benefits of employee ownership for employees can be staggering. A study of employee-owned companies in the U.S. found that median household net wealth is 92 percent higher for employee owners when compared to employees at other firms. Another suggests that low- and moderate- income workers at employee-owned companies built significantly more wealth than their peers and that the wealth benefits were even more pronounced for women and people of colour. 

It should also be noted that that these aren’t small, local organizations. Employee-owned construction companies make up the largest construction companies in the country. See for yourself below.

9. Strike Group

Strike Group is one of Western Canada’s leading infrastructure construction and maintenance service providers for energy, mining, and agriculture. Based in Calgary, Strike has more than 1100 employees in 24 locations throughout Western Canada. Strike has been named one of “Canada’s Best Managed Companies” since 2007 and was also an Alberta “Contractor of the Year” recipient.

8. Chandos

Chandos is 100 percent employee owned. It’s also the first and largest B Corp-certified national technical builder in North America. The company states that everyone who works for Chandos can become an owner and every owner has a voice because there’s only one class of voting shares. According to Chandos, over 200 of its employees are owners. Their website put it this way: “We’re driven to do better because we own a stake in the business success.”

7. Clark Builders

Clark Builders was founded by Andy Clark in Yellowknife in 1974 and soon expanded to offices in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. As one of Canada’s largest general contractors, Clark Builders specializes in projects for the commercial, institutional and energy sectors. Currently employing a workforce of approximately 850, Clark Builders says it has a “team-centred” ownership structure with 25 percent of the company owned by its employee shareholders. One of its major current projects is the Red Deer Justice Centre

6. Flynn Group

What started out as a Winnipeg roofing contractor has since grown into an international building envelope provider that employs roughly 6,000 people. Originally owned by the Flynn family, the Flynn Group now has dozens of employee owners. CEO Doug Flynn told the Globe and Mail back in 2012 that he doesn’t believe the company could have grown like it did without its equity program. 

5. Ledcor

The roots of Ledcor go back to Alberta in the 1940s.  Today the diversified construction company employs over 7,000 people across 20 offices. The employee-owned company has over 800 shareholders. The company recently celebrated its 75th anniversary with a $3 million donation over four years to support pediatric healthcare initiatives in Canada and the US.

4. Kiewit

Kiewit is 100% employee owned and any employee has the potential to become a stockholder through its employee–ownership plan. Company officials state that they cherish its reputation as a true meritocracy, so employees who stand out as the best of the best are individually reviewed and approved by Kiewit’s CEO and senior leadership for employee ownership opportunities. The company says that they believe this is a great way to drive the future of the company.

3. Graham 

Graham is 100% employee-owned by employee-owners from all levels of the company, not just the executive or senior-management. The company states that they believe this employee-ownership model fosters an entrepreneurial spirit and environment: “A workplace where people are accountable to both themselves and their colleagues and have a genuine vested interest in the success of every project.” 

2. EllisDon

In March 2020, it was announced that 100% of EllisDon’s equity would be transferred to the company’s employees. Family shareholders, who previously held 50% ownership, signed-off on an agreement which assures that over time, EllisDon will become entirely employee-owned. 

“I don’t think I can overstate how momentous this agreement is in the life of EllisDon; it is one of the most important days in our history,” said Geoff Smith, president and CEO, during the announcement. “EllisDon’s share structure and independent governance will ensure that we continue to strive together for complete fairness in equity of ownership across all employees, both present and future.”

1. PCL

With an annual construction volume of more than $8 billion, PCL is regularly cited as the largest construction company in Canada. All of PCL’s shares are held by employees and ownership is open to all salaried workers. More than 90% of eligible staff choose to become shareholders. Profits are shared with employees through dividends on owned shares. The company says that the high participation rate reflects its employees’ confidence in PCL’s leadership and ability to help employees, clients and partners create lasting and shared success.


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