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The HIDI Group

Partners from Concept to CompletionTM

~ By Cheryl Long

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2015 is shaping up to be a stellar year for one of Ontario’s leading consulting engineering firms. Not only did The HIDI Group earn a place on Canada’s Best Managed Companies list for 2014, but it is celebrating both the company’s 40th anniversary and the launch of two new and innovative divisions — Alula Lighting Design and HIDI Risk and Resilience.

Founded in 1975 by CEO Andrew Hidi, The HIDI Group has maintained a set of core values that focus on strong client relationships and high levels of service while embracing the technology and innovation needed to succeed in an ever-changing climate. Its team of professional engineers, engineering technicians and designers take on complex projects worldwide, supported by offices in Toronto, Calgary, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“One of the things we’ve always prided ourselves on was being a family-oriented firm. We started off with those roots and we’ve really kept the best of that approach with our company,” said Sandi Banerjee, COO. “This (Best Managed) process was an affirmation that keeping true to ourselves and the corporate culture was not only beneficial as a small local firm, but made us stronger and better through four decades of growth.”

Affirmation through the Best Managed process

Over the past few years, The HIDI Group has been transforming the way it delivers solutions for its clients.  Going through the Best Managed process reaffirmed the belief that it was on the right track and provided expert guidance and advice in areas where there was still room for improvement.

“It was nice to get an outside point of view,” said President Jamie Hidi. “We feel we do things somewhat differently than our competition. It proves that some of the things we are doing are innovative, different and leading edge.”

Today, the organization operates as a full-service mechanical, electrical, communications, security, commissioning, lighting, and risk and resilience consultancy serving a wide range of sectors. From commercial and hospitality projects to health care and sports facilities, The HIDI Group has built a portfolio that spans both the globe and the imagination. Some of its latest endeavours include Toronto’s new Globe and Mail Centre, the renovation and expansion of the Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, the 2015 Pan Am Games athletes’ village, and a number of hospitality projects in Europe, India and the Middle East.

Architectural lighting a growing trend

The HIDI Group’s leading edge mindset is one of the driving forces behind its two new divisions officially launched in early May. Rebecca Ho-Dion is the company’s Lighting Design Director and is heading up Alulu Lighting Design, which allows The HIDI Group to offer state-of-the-art architectural lighting design services as part of the business or on a contract basis.  Originally from Toronto, Ho-Dion has spent part of her career with design firms in New York, lending her expertise to world-class projects. She brings a global perspective to Alula, working with architects, interior designers and customers who want to integrate advanced lighting into their designs.

“Traditionally lighting design in Toronto has been done by electrical engineers. My role here is to really become that bridge between the technical engineering side and the architectural design side,” Ho-Dion explained. “My ability is to speak in both design languages. These days, lighting design is such a complex maze of technology with the fast advance of LED light sources and fixtures. My role here is to help clients achieve their vision of what their space looks light in terms of light.”

Specializing in progressive lighting design means keeping up with changes in technology, traveling to trade shows in Europe and the United States, and staying on top of design trends. There’s a growing market for more complex, integrated lighting design, she said, and that’s why it’s important to offer a service that helps customers achieve their vision by simultaneously developing concepts and wading through the constantly evolving technology.

New division helps to identify risk

Designing a new building or moving a corporate office can bring a level of risk that goes beyond meeting timelines and budgets. The HIDI Group’s second new division, HIDI Risk and Resilience, takes a strategic, all-hazards approach to design, Banerjee explained. Well before reaching the architectural design stage, the company will take a 3D view of a proposed building or piece of land and advise its client on any associated risks or hazards. The team will consider disasters involving seismic risk, water tables, flooding and solar flares, consider the effects of malicious criminal acts and terrorism, and also factor in situations resulting from accidents and natural causes.

“At the end of the day, what matters most to our clients and our businesses is their ability to rebound from a potential incident and absorb not just one event but multiple (events),” Banerjee said. It’s not just the initial event that causes the most disruption, he explained, but the resulting impact of power outages, loss of municipal services and criminal acts that can follow. In a big picture scenario, designing for any situation protects all of a company’s resources. But the overall result shouldn’t be so onerous that it impacts the efficiency of the business, and that’s where the firm’s level of skill comes into play, Banerjee said. “We don’t want to design a building that looks like Fort Knox or a prison.”

“What sets The HIDI Group apart is our unique ability to integrate design considerations amongst all disciplines,” Banerjee added. “For example, we don’t assess risk and resilience in isolation; a risk mitigation recommendation results in a mechanical and electrical design deliverable, while our lighting design balances security and energy implications. The result is a holistic approach that contributes to clients’ long-term success.” 

Maintaining a family atmosphere

Despite the company’s continued growth and innovative advancements, it has maintained a sense of family that is rooted in its earliest days. Loyalty between The HIDI Group and its approximately 150 employees is one of the keys to the firm’s success. “We’ve created a really wonderful management team,” Hidi said. “We push each other, while at the same time creating an environment where everyone enjoys working together.”

The firm has added “great people and great leaders” along the way, some who have come from employee referrals which serves as a testament to the positive and collaborative environment fostered at all levels. 

“You have to make sure your staff are growing, learning, and receiving opportunities,” Hidi said. “I think that will ensure that employees work hard, are passionate about their career, and stay with the firm. It is our mission to succeed through personal attention to both our clients and our staff.”

To learn more about The HIDI Group, visit www.hidi.com.