Beginning as a civil engineering firm in 1990, McIntosh Perry set out to serve the local eastern Ontario market. It built a strong legacy in contract administration, municipal infrastructure design work, and construction oversight, and almost thirty years later, McIntosh Perry’s reach has expanded ten-fold.
The company is now a full-service engineering and related professional services firm. We spoke to Phil Whelan, the company’s vice-president of public sector services, and Mark Priddle, vice-president of private sector services, to find out more.
The often overlooked day-to-day demand of keeping Canada moving is no easy task and unlike many twenty-first century development dilemmas, the solution cannot be imported.
With aging bridges, roadways and water systems, the demand for investment in infrastructure renewal has become a pressing point of concern for governments worldwide. There is recognition throughout Canada that aging infrastructure requires urgent attention, but there are only a few firms with the capability to deal with most of these projects since such improvements require large-scale, multi-disciplinary solutions that must stand the test of time.
McIntosh Perry employs a centralized approach that guarantees continuity, ease of implementation and, most importantly, quality results. The firm operates from five Ontario locations and employs nearly two hundred staff to serve clients across Ontario and beyond. It has become one of the province’s more successful and diverse independent engineering firms. It offers over twenty related services which range from construction and contract administration to land development, environmental sciences, sustainable energy, transportation engineering and everything in between.
McIntosh Perry has a long tradition of serving public and private sector clients throughout Ontario. Some of the firm’s public sector projects include work on the nation’s largest bridges, busiest roadways and most complex environmental problems. The rising demand for infrastructure work has challenged every firm in the sector, but McIntosh Perry has responded innovatively and quickly. The firm has been called upon time and again to respond to large-scale civil works, and its activity promises only to increase in the upcoming years.
For the company’s most recent work with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, the firm was brought in to carry out a large-scale rehabilitation design for twelve bridges. The task was set to be completed in eighteen months, but McIntosh Perry was able to complete it a full six months early. Through employing an innovative approach, the engineers finished the rehabilitation design in record time and ensuring that further rehabilitation would not be necessary for up to fifty years.
However, infrastructure work depends on more than just advanced construction practices and technology; it also relies heavily on communication and expertise. “We have a lot of experience working with public sector clients,” Mark Priddle explained. “Understanding the inner workings of every level of government is very beneficial. We understand the importance of timeliness and communication.”
One of the hardest parts of infrastructure renewals is the disruption it causes to residents and users. McIntosh Perry has built a reputation for going above and beyond for their clients and the local community. This has included reaching out to neighbours and other stakeholders during many design or contract administration projects.
The firm’s recent infrastructure renewal project for the City of Ottawa on First Avenue presented many challenges. The project was located in a prestigious, busy area in downtown Ottawa and required the consideration of multiple factors including bike paths, parking and a complex water main and sewer system. The task affected vehicular traffic access to a major roadway. McIntosh Perry worked closely with the local government to respond respectfully and promptly to issues in the surrounding area. In the end, the firm finished the project quickly and successfully, but its most welcome accolade was an overwhelmingly positive review from area residents on safety, usability and overall worksite conduct.
McIntosh Perry has invested heavily in the development of local businesses, the environment and the success of their projects. One of the firm’s strengths is how strongly it incorporates each element of the broader engineering process. The science side of the business sets it apart as geoscientists and environmental experts direct the core of its overall approach.
Environmental science, structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, land use planning and land development play an ongoing role in a significant number of the firm’s construction and contract administration projects. The majority of projects require environmental planning throughout and even after the operation is complete. Although environmental considerations are often important during planning stages, some of the most significant environmental work comes after a project is constructed.
Many of McIntosh Perry’s innovative, low-impact solutions stand as case studies in sustainability. Working with the Ontario Government, the firm has implemented several highly successful re-vegetation plans, including one such project at the Kam Kotia mine site near Timmins, Ontario. It has also recently been contracted to undertake groundwater monitoring for forty-two solar projects across Ontario. Some biologists at McIntosh Perry have even collaborated with municipal governments to help protect local species at risk, most recently assisting in planning to protect a turtle population.
Priddle, who was recently appointed the president of the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario (APGO), stated: “The environment is an important part of everything we do. Species at risk is growing concern for a lot of our projects. Many of our biologists are working to help better understand these issues and provide solutions for our clients.”
Although the municipal side of the business is where McIntosh Perry started, it is only one small piece of the firm as it stands today. The company’s growth, in recent years, has been driven by an ongoing commitment to increasing skills and vertical integration. When it comes to engineering services, clients are paying for knowledge, and in the end, this is what has placed it at the head of the pack. There are very few firms in the sector who can match the responsiveness, diversity and experience of the staff at McIntosh Perry.
“We have very experienced staff that have been in the industry for years. We have great staff with technical skills, but our senior staff are also very important. Many of them have worked in the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of the Environment and even municipal governments. This has really helped us understand our clients better, the processes and the projects overall,” said Mr. Priddle.
McIntosh Perry has cultivated an experienced team. The firm is home to engineering experts including professional engineers, engineering interns, certified engineering technicians and technologists, surveyors, and contract administrators. In addition, planners, biologists, professional geoscientists and landscape architects have become an integral part of the company.
“It’s important to us here to hire people who are technically good but also, caring and considerate,” said Phil Whelan. “The folks that I work with are what make me the most proud. We get commended on our technical capabilities, but at the end of the day, the staff at McIntosh Perry are our biggest accomplishment.” Indeed a number of staff have received accolades from clients for their understanding and professionalism when dealing with the general public on high-profile projects in challenging situations.
The firm projects expansion in the months to come and aims to increase staff numbers further. With plans in place to further diversify the existing services, the future of the company is a bright one. McIntosh Perry is committed to industry and community in Ontario, and Mr. Priddle and Mr. Whelan assured that the company’s core values would remain.