McKay-Cocker Construction

McKay-Cocker – Team Builders
By: Jesse Champagne


McKay-Cocker Construction is a privately owned company that prides itself on delivering high quality construction projects across a variety of delivery methods including: Design-Build, Construction Management, Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP), and Lump Sum Bids. Formed in 1946, the company has been a fully diversified construction service provider in the commercial, heavy civil, industrial, and institutional sectors.

President, Robert “Bob” Skinner, a Western University graduate and London, Ontario native, joined McKay-Cocker last year after spending 22 years working in the United States.

“It’s an exciting time at McKay-Cocker. The chemistry and energy here is very good. It’s a place of innovation and engagement,” said Bob.

For over 67 years, McKay-Cocker has built strong, long-term client relationships. Quite often, the McKay-Cocker logo comes attached with the phrase ‘Team Builders’. This serves as a testament to the belief that all stakeholders in a project are important. McKay-Cocker strives to work with clients, consultants, and subcontractors to achieve solutions that benefit everyone involved.

“We provide an incredible, personal service to our clients. We do whatever is necessary to make the job successful…Our people and management are committed to delivering expectations,” said Bob.

He added, “It’s all relationship driven. [Making the client happy] is what we’re all about. We want to be profitable, that’s what we have to do to stay in business and stay alive, but we want to keep our clients out of trouble and we want repeat business. The vast majority of our business is repeat and we don’t want to lose that.”

Up to 70 percent of their work in progress at any given time is with repeat clients. This desire for long-term relationships extends to joint venture partners, subcontractors, and suppliers.

“I think there is a huge market out there that we fit in to. We are a company that is relationship driven and we want to enhance that. We want to be partners with our clients; we want to use the construction management delivery method as a platform for how we do business. We want to be very open and candid with our clients and help them with the process from front to back, so we are more of a full-service type contractor. We have implemented some internal technology platforms to help us do that as well, in terms of innovation,” said Bob.

Tasked with helping the company expand, Bob was steadfast in his company beliefs: McKay-Cocker is a company built through a culture of execution, where every client deserves quality, regardless of project size or budget. If their clients aren’t happy, then McKay-Cocker isn’t happy.

“We want to grow, but we want to grow sensibly. We don’t want to go and buy the market. We want to grow in a sensible way. In my opinion, people are the key to our business. What I want to do is build our company with the best people. I think that growth will occur on its own,” said Bob. “If we grow too quickly we will become a commodity-based company and it will all be about driving to the bottom line and that’s not what we are. We don’t want to lose our identity.”

In 2010, Fayolle Canada purchased the shares of McKay-Cocker and added the company to the existing group of Magil Construction in Montreal and Magil Pacific in British Columbia, altogether they are MC Group. Nevertheless, Bob firmly believes that the company has retained its homegrown family values.

“It always was a family company. It’s always remained a family connected/owned business… It still has that very personal sort of feel to it. It’s not like a large firm with a very corporate environment. But at the same time, it has a more corporate vision than in the past, now that we have a presence from B.C. to the East Coast,” said Bob.

The 2010 purchase opens up several new doors for McKay-Cocker, and the potential for growth has never been higher.

“We’ve expanded our influence tremendously. Now that we’re part of more of a national entity… the company has a different future. We have more financial depth than we used to have,” said Bob. “We are also becoming more and more synergized over time. That gives us a lot more depth, bonding capacity, and expertise.”

One of McKay-Cocker’s greatest strengths, Bob says, lies in the industrial sector.

“We’ve always been very successful in the industrial sector. We have done a lot of automotive projects and we have a strong industrial pedigree with respect to [projects] like the Toyota Woodstock project.”

The Design-Build and Construction Management teams at McKay-Cocker play a strong role within the company. Bob sees a lot of strength in those departments and in the industrial and institutional work they do.

Exciting ventures are happening at McKay-Cocker, as the company grows and continues to diversify they are expanding in other sectors, as well.

Another goal for McKay-Cocker is to increase business in the Toronto area, where a bigger office is currently in the planning stages to replace the existing office they are growing out of.

“We’re really putting a keen emphasis on the Toronto market,” said Bob. “I’m spending a lot of time in Toronto and that’s an important focus of ours. Building relationships in the GTA is a big part of our plan, as well as the commercial retail sector.”

In addition to team building, success at McKay-Cocker is derived from the ability to adapt to the ever-changing economic environment and construction market. Bob believes his experience in the United States gives McKay-Cocker an edge.

“[I want] to bring those experiences into our office and train our people, especially in our Design-Build department, to actually be front-end users of the technologies and to use 3D modeling on our job sites to the extents possible.”

The McKay-Cocker family has embraced Bob’s leadership and ideas.

“The chemistry at McKay-Cocker and Magil is something I’ve rarely see the industry; not just internally, but externally,” said Bob. “Our people truly care and really are Team Builders. I’m proud to be a part of McKay-Cocker.”

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