Hidi Rae Consulting Engineers: Designing and Building a reputation of success
By: Mudeeha Yousaf
Formed by a merger of two companies in 1999 — Andrew Hidi & Associates and EA Rae — Hidi Rae Consulting Engineers Inc. stands as one of the most influential consulting engineering firms in Toronto and provides full service mechanical, electrical, communications, security and commissioning consultancy. As well, they work on energy and commissioning projects along with a specialty Tenancy group that handles end-user design needs. This multinational business is committed to developing holistic designs that are viable for its clientele’s long term success and, so, places a strong emphasis on sustainable practices.
According to John Ferguson, Managing Principal (Toronto), the company has seen some changes since he joined the team in 1998 with the addition of a communications division, commissioning department and security division, allowing the company to broaden its vision in the field of build and design. Ferguson holds a Masters in Mechanical Engineering and brings with him years of mechanical building systems expertise, which he shares with his skilled team of professional engineers, engineering technicians and designers. What ultimately sets the firm apart from the rest is its emphasis on green initiatives and sustainable design practices in everyday work.
“When I first came into the business my Masters was done in solar engineering, and my first job was starting an energy conservation company in Waterloo fresh out of university, so I guess I’ve always had an affinity towards understanding and looking at how we use energy and how we can reduce energy use, so that influences any of the projects that we do,” says Ferguson. “We approach every project to look for opportunities to conserve resources and energy, nowadays that’s just good business sense and frankly it’s part of most companies’ brands so we don’t need to talk too many clients into that.” Sustainability in design becomes more of an ingrained aspect in the firm’s business model and it has taken concrete steps to set itself apart from other companies by including an “in-house modeling group that gives us immediate feedback [and] allows us to test and validate any ideas we get.”
As well, staying innovative is essential to the company’s diligent business model, which does not come without some bumps in the road. “We have a formal training program where we identify skill sets and look for areas we need to improve,” says Ferguson. “We tap into all the product shows that suppliers have available and attend conferences for breaking news.” The corporation is consistently sculpting new ways to deliver cutting-edge services that are different from the norm, and each project ends with a complete field review and project analysis to ensure a quality outcome. This is carried out through the multi-tiered approach the company takes, where the Principals acts as Project Executives and are hands-on with their clients and partners for each project they take on in order to sculpt world-class buildings.
With a superlative portfolio, the company has dabbled in an assortment of projects since its modest beginnings. They have provided their mechanical engineering services to the Fallsview Casino Resort, a large entertainment hospitality project that opened in 2004. As well, they were the mechanical consultant on a new Bank of Montreal Data Centre, which was the first data centre in North America to achieve an Uptime Institute Tier IV rating based on its reliability and became one of the most professionally satisfying projects in the company’s history. Currently, Hidi Rae is keeping busy with many projects in the works, such as WaterPark Place Phase 3, the first LEED Platinum targeted office tower in the downtown core, the Yorkdale expansion project and close to a half-dozen high-rise residential condominiums in Toronto. They are also providing mechanical, electrical and security consulting services for the new Globe and Mail Head Quarters located on King St. East, which is underway in its design and has just started construction. In the future, Ferguson hopes to “work on any projects that are professionally challenging and financially sustainable.”
Since its inception, the company has risen from a single firm with 30 employees to a fully licensed team of 140 across 4 offices. It received international status after taking its North American rooted business overseas to the Middle East and opened up branch offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Its international status is further enhanced through current projects underway in North America, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and Africa, and is skilled in adapting to unique markets and their clients’ changing business environments. Ferguson notes that there are a lot of similarities between the Canadian and international markets, as well as differences. “Every market has aggressive schedules, very astute clients and a need to perform and find solutions for those clients, though the one difference I’ve noticed between North America and the Middle East is the level of detail that we show on our drawings. In the North American market you’re obligated to show fully detailed drawings but in the Middle East you actually don’t take in the same level of detail; the contractor steps in at an earlier date to take over and works out the details of the design.”
Sandi Banerjee, Chief Operating Officer, says the firm “learns globally and utilizes our international exposure to identify emerging trends and best practices, while we partner locally and adhere to local code and regulations while applying lessons learned to optimize both proven and novel design solutions.”
The firm understands that its success could not have been duplicated if it were not for their trusted team and so makes efforts to make sure their workers are given an encouraging environment. “Good people are seldom without work and we need a way to attract good people, which is our strength. We work hard to develop a reputation where this is a place people like to work,” says Ferguson. “We aim for interesting projects and make sure to treat our employees fairly.” The firm also has mentoring programs in place to ensure that every person can grow to the best of their ability.
The company has received prestigious acclaims throughout the course of its time. They were given the opportunity to be the mechanical, electrical, communications and security consultants on the Pan Am Athletes Village where the athletes will stay during the anticipated 2015 Pan-American Games in Toronto. They have also worked on the Trump Towers, whose “Suits Bar” was named the best bar at the Retail Design Institute of New York. Its pool has also won the IES award of merit for its unique lighting design. After working with PowerStream to develop a sustainable design feature, the company was named a CDM champion. The Canary District has also won the Canadian Architect Award of Excellence. Something that cannot be chartered by an award, however, is the level of efficiency that Hidi Rae Consulting Engineers Inc. delivers to each and every project, and the commitment to client service the partners make.
Banerjee concludes “Our principals maintain direct project involvement from concept through completion, implementing an integrated design process to ensure solutions are carried out with accuracy, integrity and reliability.”
For more information on Hidi Rae, visit http://www.hidi.com/.