Carlson Construction has an incredible 90-year legacy in achieving exceptional results through remarkable construction experiences. The company was founded in 1927 by father and son, Arthur and Victor Carlson, shortly after their arrival in Canada. They each had experience in construction, architecture, and engineering, and they decided to combine their skills to form one company that could offer more to its clients than what was commonplace in the Edmonton construction industry at that time. Today, the company continues to offer construction management and design build services for the commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors. Carlson remains a family business; the founders’ children and grandchildren joined the company, bringing with them new ideas and innovative methods with each successive generation.
Today, Stan Colville, CEO; Bruce Foster, president; and Jayson Barclay, VP of project development tell our readers why every experience with Carlson continues to be a truly memorable one.
“We strive to ‘hire to retire.’ Creating an environment where our employees feel like they’re part of the big picture is important to us. We are based in Edmonton, but we consider ourselves an Alberta company. We are now extending our services to Calgary, with intentions to grow and expand into BC and Saskatchewan in the future.
“The relationships that we have with our industry partners (clients, consultants, and subtrades) are invaluable to us. We only consider ourselves successful if our clients are happy, and we make it our mission to exceed expectations. We have an incredible staff who support each other and place just as much importance on client satisfaction as the leadership team does.”
Some of Carlson Construction’s most impressive projects include upgrades to Edmonton’s Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Stantec Tower III, the Edmonton Journal Building, and the Citadel Theatre.
“The recently completed Ritchie Market is a very exciting project for us because it’s brought a fresh, new atmosphere to the mature Ritchie neighborhood,” the management team adds. “It was a very unique project, and one we foresee having a lasting, positive effect on the community. We also recently completed the Sherwood Park Volkswagen dealership, and upon completion, Volkswagen’s headquarters deemed it the new standard of construction quality for Volkswagen. That was a huge accomplishment for the whole team here at Carlson, and one we are so proud of.”
As with most companies of this nature, the recent recession posed some challenges, but Carlson is proactive about changing market conditions.
“The uncertainty of the construction market is a constant challenge,” the team admits. “It’s crucial for us to be prepared for drastic changes in the economy, and also to focus on growing our client relationships in the midst of downturns in the market.”
With nine decades in business, Carlson has plenty of reasons to be proud of its reputation, team, and its contribution to the Capital City’s landscape.
“We have many staff members who joined us straight out of post-secondary and have advanced so much within Carlson, and it’s great to be a part of that. Over the past 10 years, we have retired staff members with excess of 40 years working with the company. These people contribute so much to our company, so it is truly rewarding to be a part of their journey and to help them reach their goals. We work hard to provide a solid foundation for our staff to succeed, and in turn, we all benefit from it.
“As a result of celebrating our 90th year, we often discuss the story of Carlson, which people are always surprised to learn is 90 years old. That’s rare to find these days, and we strive to keep our business current, so it seems younger than it is. We also find people are surprised to learn how many significant Edmonton buildings we’ve constructed, such as the Citadel, Alberta Research Council, South Edmonton Common, and the Student’s Union Building at the U of A, to name a few.”
One of the ways the company stays current is by seeking out and maximizing opportunities. The management team explains, “In 2015, we merged CPI Construction with Carlson Construction. That was a significant change, and one that has been a great success for us. Our business and our team are thriving, and we’ve been able to take the best from both worlds to bring the overall business to new heights.”
What is the secret to 90 great years in business?
“We truly care! Not only about the projects we have built, but also about the success of our clients. We fully understand the impact we have on adding value to businesses through thoughtful design and quality construction, while being respectful of budgets and timelines. Our idea of project success does not stop at the structure; it carries through the overall success of our clients’ day-to-day business and the relationships we establish through this process.”
Management also cites looking out for their team and the community as crucial factors in the company’s success.
“The culture at Carlson is one that promotes entrepreneurship. There’s a high degree of accountability, and we encourage and support independence and key decision making from staff at all levels. Placing trust in the team and allowing them to feel empowered to make decisions is essential to growth, as is maintaining a healthy lifestyle outside of work – that is crucial to performance and mental sharpness. Also, there is importance in being aware of your limitations and recognizing when you need a break to recharge. Communication and engagement amongst the team is key. We need to be confident enough to provide constructive feedback, and we also need to be open to receiving it and utilizing it in effective ways.
“Carlson is very involved in the Edmonton community, and we have partnered with a number of local causes and supported them in a variety of ways. YESS (Youth Empowerment Support Services), the Glenrose Foundation, Autism Edmonton, Boys and Girls Clubs, CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association), and The GRIT Program (Getting Ready for Inclusion Today) are some of the organizations we’ve supported, and continue to support.”
They are thankful for the support that the company has received, too.
“Organizations such as the Edmonton Construction Association (ECA) have helped shape what this company is today. Having been one of the ECA’s founding members, we’ve experienced years of market changes, and we’ve had their support in developing our business accordingly. Through the years, many of Carlson’s principals have served, and continue to serve, on the board of directors for the ECA. Being able to connect with and learn from people in construction organizations who have different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences has allowed us to become better leaders, and a better business.”
For Carlson, 90 years is just the beginning. As they approach their 100th anniversary, the company shows no signs of slowing down.
“With our current focus being growth, we’ve recently added resources in Calgary to support our existing and future clients in the southern Alberta market,” the management team concludes. “We intend to expand our services to other provinces in the near future, as well as to continually find new and innovative ways we can better serve our clients and communities.”