Focused on People and the Triple Bottom Line for over 25 Years
By Heather Romito
In 2020, Allnorth Consultants Limited, headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, celebrated 25 years since inception and recently celebrated 10 years in one of its many regional offices – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The privately held, multi-disciplinary company provides civil, mechanical, structural, electrical and process engineering services as well as construction services (defined as surveying, 3D scanning, and drone services as well as CCIL Certified materials testing). Its clients are primarily in the mining, oil and gas, pulp and paper and infrastructure sectors across North America. Allnorth has completed projects in South America, Cuba and is currently working in Europe.
While it celebrated a 25-year milestone last year, the company’s roots actually date back to 1978 in Prince George, British Columbia. At the time, services were focused solely on the pulp and paper industry. Business kicked into high gear in 1992 when Darby Kreitz, Allnorth’s current Chief Executive Officer, came on board fresh out of University. With an engineering degree under his belt and a vision to expand Allnorth’s services and geographical reach, Darby helped to grow the company from that single office in Prince George to offices across the country.
The Triple Bottom Line for Allnorth
If you ask Darryl Bell, Allnorth’s Chief Corporate Development Officer, what has led to the company’s dynamic growth and success, he will tell you about the Triple Bottom Line. “We operate our company according to the Triple Bottom Line, and the best analogy for that is a three-legged stool. Our three legs are people, profit and clients and without one of those legs, the stool falls over.”
It’s clear to anyone who comes into contact with Allnorth team members that people are important, and “culture is king”. In fact, the Allnorth leadership team places a lot of emphasis on being an organization where people want to spend their entire careers, and per Bell, it all comes down to inclusiveness and real transparency.
“It’s the openness here. I’ve never worked for an organization where the CEO shares the level of information with his team that Darby does. He is an open book at quarterly “all company” meetings, sharing financial and other corporate information with all team members.”
The hard work seems to have paid off. Allnorth has received the Employee Recommended Workplace Award by Morneau Shepell and The Globe and Mail for 2020, marking its third year in a row receiving the award. This honour is particularly important to Allnorth’s leadership because it is the only employer award that is based entirely on team feedback. The award recognizes excellence in achieving a healthy, engaged and productive workforce.
Inclusive and responsible projects
Allnorth is often involved in both greenfield and brownfield projects that impact cities, municipalities and remote communities. In line with its people-centric approach, the company has a clear mandate to establish and maintain strong relationships with Indigenous communities and businesses that are impacted by such projects.
“As an environmentally responsible company, we have extremely deep relationships, partnerships and joint ventures within many Indigenous communities. This helps to create opportunities for Indigenous groups to offer a new set of services to developers within their territory; it gives us access to new clients and a labour force; and it provides a financial benefit to the Indigenous community.”
Quality and innovation that differentiate
When it comes to the client and profit legs of the Triple Bottom Line stool, much of Allnorth’s success has come from its ability to stand apart from other engineering consulting and construction services firms when it comes to quality and innovation. In Canada, Allnorth has the distinction of being the first company to achieve national Organizational Quality Management (OQM) certification. It shares these best practices, policies and procedures across the entire organization for all its professionals in Canada and the US.
Allnorth was also among the first engineering firms to use terrestrial-based 3D scanners, or reality capture devices, and now the company employs expert drone pilots to enable remote data capture as well. As pioneers in the use of 3D scanning technology, Allnorth has many years of experience figuring out how to leverage the capability to its fullest.
According to Bell, “The world of technology has become just phenomenal, and when you have the ability to provide a client with a full 3D model of their plan for their facility, road or bridge and you can tie that to field data and drone technology, it gives that client a very high level of comfort that you can deliver on what you’re promising. You can actually take that data and use it in the design. Knowing that a facility’s design is based on real data that contractors can price, creates cost certainty.”
Allnorth is all growth
Clearly the Triple Bottom Line approach is working for Allnorth. The organization has organically grown over the past 25 years to a complement of over 450 people in offices throughout Canada as well as a service centre in Atlanta, Georgia. The Allnorth Saskatoon office alone has grown from a couple of people in 2010 to a community of over 70 people.
The company shows no signs of flattening its growth trajectory, with an aggressive five-year plan that includes metrics such as doubling business, driving employee turnover below ten percent, reducing its MIR (Medical Incident Rating) to zero, and continuing to increase shareholder value.
But in the end, success for Allnorth will always come from a genuine focus on relationships. “We would rather have partnerships for decades and take less of a financial reward, with the long-term view of maintaining strong relationships. Our relationship-driven culture comes out in how we work with our employees, partners and our clients, equally.”
Happy Anniversary to Allnorth and Allnorth Saskatoon and many more to come.