2014 was a very active year for our region marked with transformational project wins, acquisitions, as well as integration and rebranding activities. The significant growth we have achieved thus far has led to increased opportunities for our people. At the start of the millennium we were a company of 500 people, primarily based in Quebec. Over the course of the last 15 years we have grown into an organization of approximately 32,000 employees in 39 countries around the world.
This is not only a remarkable story for WSP, but it truly is one of the great stories to come out of Canada. Since we have primarily grown through acquisitions, we now need to operate as “one company” that knits together our strengths, diversity, entrepreneurial spirit and proud history in order to deliver as Canada’s premier engineering firm. This was one of our main focus areas in 2014.
In the first month of 2014, our Canadian operations rebranded from GENIVAR to WSP. A tremendous effort was made by all our people to fully position the brand and to leverage the expertise of WSP’s international team (primarily in buildings) into the Canadian market. One year later, on January 1, 2015, Focus, an acquired firm with expertise notably in oil & gas engineering and geomatics, also rebranded and officially became WSP. Both of these significant events offered the perfect occasion to celebrate our combined success, as well as to connect with our clients and to strengthen our relationships.
Furthermore, the Parsons Brinckerhoff acquisition brought additional Canadian colleagues from Parsons Brinckerhoff in Canada along with its sister companies (most notably the Halsall services and project management services, respectively). No time was wasted in organizing our teams, pooling our resources and being awarded with several joint mandates. Today, as a combined entity, our focus is the continued delivery of high quality projects through our enhanced and complementary pan-Canadian reach and expertise.
With solid growth in Canada, both in terms of our increased employee count and our diversification of services, our industry recognition continues to move upwards. Most recently, the publication Renew Canada released their Top 100 rankings consisting of Canada’s biggest infrastructure projects. With involvement in 28 of the top 100 infrastructure projects in Canada, our firm was awarded the highest recognition, the “Platinum Elite” classification. Our know-how and service offering continue to grow in both diversification and depth with each passing year.
Many changes have occurred within the organization of our operations over the past year. Today, we have a flat organizational structure that identifies and connects well with the diverse nature of the end markets available to us. For example, environment, geomatics, energy, aviation and telecommunications are all national product lines and some of the larger groups across Canada. The size and scope of the current organization also helps us gain entry into the bigger design/ build and Public-Private Partnerships (P3) markets. For instance, a consortium of which we are a member was recently awarded the Turcot Interchange project – one of the largest design/build projects ever awarded by the Quebec Ministry of Transportation.
Earlier in the summer, Focus and WSP were awarded their first successful joint-bid with Alberta Transportation for the Highway 43 rehabilitation proposal.
Towards the end of the year, the Regional Municipality of Waterloo extended an existing contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff and WSP as the region’s general engineering consultant. The team will also be designing one of Ontario’s first light rail transit systems in decades connecting cities of Cambridge, Waterloo and Kitchener.
We are very encouraged to see joint mandates being awarded so quickly and we believe this is further recognition that these acquisitions truly are a complementary fit to our existing service offering.
Looking at 2015, forecasters predict that the overall economic growth will be modest over the course of the year with an expected GDP growth rate of 2.1%. In 2014, the Canadian government announced $5.8 billion in infrastructure spending over the next three years. The use of P3 as a model for furthering the delivery of infrastructure projects continues to increase with 44 P3 projects under construction across Canada (and another 27 at the preliminary and shortlist stage). This is a huge opportunity for WSP as we continue to leverage a significant reservoir of talent and know-how from both our Canadian and world-wide operations, into large-scale transportation and buildings projects.
We have also seen an increasing demand for environmental services. Statutory requirements and public pressure continue to drive the need for premier environmental services across and deepen our coverage in this sector’s local markets.
Although low oil prices may have created uncertainties, there are both opportunities and challenges in the 2015 landscape and beyond. Regardless of market circumstances, we intend to capitalize on our national diversity, global reach and extensive expertise to drive profitable growth. Our goal is to continue to build towards top tier leadership in all core markets and geographies across Canada. Key areas for growth in 2015 include:
For WSP in Canada, the opportunities are numerous and we intend to take full advantage of them.