Home Month and Year How to Build a Better Future: JEN COL Leads the Way

How to Build a Better Future: JEN COL Leads the Way

JEN COL Construction Celebrates 45 years

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JEN COL Construction is an Alberta-based commercial construction services firm that earned a well-deserved reputation for its successful school and public facility projects. Today, JEN COL has branched out into a diverse array of projects across Western Canada’s public and private sectors. The values that the company was founded on, however, have never changed: to provide the unrivaled project experience and to build a better future.

For JEN COL, building a better future transcends providing expertly constructed buildings. It means being active in the communities in which they operate. It means providing a corporate culture that empowers each team member. It means driving value into the project by optimizing processes for every single build. It means constantly striving for improvement and never resting on one’s laurels. This is the way the company was founded and now that Cory Jodoin, president & CEO is at the helm, he is determined to continue JEN COL’s legacy.

“My parents, Ron and Yvonne, founded JEN COL in 1978,” says Jodoin. “They wanted to be proactive about their own destiny, build stability and be able to live the values they espoused.”

Jodoin grew up in the family business and spent his summers on job sites with the crews. He learned the business from the ground up and became a partner in 2000.

“I always wanted to be involved with the business full-time,” smiles Jodoin. “When I was young I loved going to site, building things and seeing the end product. For me now, it is more about building the business instead of building a building. I focus on building relationships with clients, solving challenges and growing communities.”

Jodoin has seen many milestones come and go for JEN COL, including the move in 1989 from the shop on the family acreage to its first facility in Stony Plain. Another landmark moment for the company came in 2004 when JEN COL divested its millwork division. In 2013, Ron retired and the planned succession went into action. With Jodoin owning the company, he made two big decisions. One was to build its new headquarters in Acheson. JEN COL moved into the new facility in 2016. The second change came in 2020 when Jodoin introduced employee ownership.

This was, according to Jodoin, not just a strategic move, but the right move.

“All corporations talk about how they value their people, but at JEN COL, we mean it and we take action that proves it. Our people and our corporate culture are different. There are many great construction companies out there, but at JEN COL we focus first on the personal experience of each client. That personal experience only works if we have a great internal culture and people who are in alignment with our values. When you have people actively engaged and liking what they do and where they work, they do better work.”

He continues, “JEN COL’s focus is not solely on profit because we know that by focusing on client satisfaction, employee engagement, safety and community building, profit is a natural by-product, as is success. If we only focused on profit, that would change how we treat our employees and our clients. We get the best subtrades, partners and team members because they know we will treat them right.”

It’s all part of building a better future – the foundation the company was built on and the value Jodoin leads with every day.

“Building a better future is our core purpose,” Jodoin says firmly. “That means understanding our clients and their challenges and raising the bar to provide them with the service they need to be successful. It means growing and developing our team internally. It means going into a community and not just leaving behind a building, but a positive economic impact by employing local contractors and giving back to local initiatives. It means being fully engaged in the community and in the business. For us, business is not ‘just business.’ It’s always personal.”

Making it personal is something that permeates throughout the organization, especially when it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR). JEN COL’s three CSR focus areas are mental health, waste reduction and education. Initiatives have included annual awareness campaigns for various mental health programs, partnering with local seniors to repurpose construction materials destined for the landfill and using those materials for fundraising efforts and providing scholarships to high school students looking to pursue further education and careers in the skilled trades. It is important to note that all initiatives are employee led, and it is this passion for CSR that is a true testament to the culture of giving back to their communities at JEN COL.  

The company is also very invested in the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s (NAIT) Construction Engineering Technology (CET) program.

“We hire graduates from NAIT’s CET program and invest our time and resources into their training and education. We also hire summer interns in our offices and job sites to help students gain valuable practical experience. Personally, I sit on NAIT’s Program Advisory Committee as chair for the CET program.”

It’s about looking to the future for Jodoin when it comes to being the program chair and to encouraging young people to choose a career in trades.

“There is a lot of push for students to choose university but this means trades, like construction, routinely get overlooked,” Jodoin explains. “JEN COL advocates for youth to understand what the construction industry is all about. It’s not like how it used to be; construction tends to have a negative reputation. Many things have changed thanks to technology, corporate culture guidance and construction science. As a result, there are many wonderful opportunities in construction – and not just working in the field, but areas like estimating, project management, accounting and business development. However, there is a lack of awareness of these opportunities. We are working hard to change that.”

He continues, “I’m committed to helping people realize that construction is a great career. I’ve seen people come into the industry right out of high school to be able to start a family, put kids through college and have a great quality of life. Construction can provide a wonderful life for an individual or for a family.”

JEN COL, and Jodoin, are certainly on the right track. The company that started 45 years ago with just two people and a shop on a family acreage is now the construction brand on everyone’s lips in the industry, thanks to a team that is nearly 100 employees strong and thanks to high profile projects that stand testament to JEN COL’s experience.

Those projects include but are not limited to, Spruce Grove’s protective services building, numerous schools across all divisions, activity centres such as outdoor rinks and pools as well as fully enclosed sports centers, Edmonton’s Lewis Farms transit facility, healthcare centres, daycare facilities, supportive living communities for seniors (e.g. Folkstone Place in Stony Plain), Sawmill restaurants across the province and many more. See the full list and project details at jen-col.com/our-builds.

Jodoin adds, “We have several current projects underway with Indigenous partners and communities in B.C. and Alberta that are very important and significant to us. It’s essential to us that we don’t just leave a building behind when construction is complete but that we’re leaving a legacy by providing employment and training opportunities to community members and working alongside Indigenous businesses. We believe we have a duty to support reconciliation with Indigenous people and we believe one of the most important ways JEN COL can support reconciliation is through economic inclusion and working with Indigenous communities and businesses to develop economic self-sustainability.”

For each project, he notes, “The hardest part of construction is before the shovel goes into the ground. There are always challenges but it can be a fun process with the right partner if that partner is focused on the client’s needs and wants in a collaborative manner. We become a part of each community when we build a project. We work on Western Canada’s most innovative centres in health care, education, sports, dining and more. We are proud to work with many different clients from so many different industries.

“What we are the proudest of is when we complete a project while exceeding our clients’ expectations – and they recommend us to others. We love to take our clients’ visions and turn them into reality. Not many people say, ‘this construction experience will be the best experience in your life!’ But construction can be a great experience. It boils down to communication and how you go about doing things. When people say, ‘go hire JEN COL; it will be different from what you have experienced with other construction partners,’ it just doesn’t get better than that!”

As he reflects on 45 years, Jodoin points to the culture of innovation fostered at JEN COL as a key reason for the firm’s longevity.

“Our focus is on incremental innovation through process improvement — not necessarily latest and greatest. This is the sweet spot of construction as our clients increasingly demand quality results with added value, completed in shorter timeframes while being a steward for the environment. Innovation at its core is about solving problems and we’ve cultivated a culture of learning and improvement where we can build a better way of doing things using our existing technologies to solve those problems.”   

What is the future of JEN COL?

Jodoin is happy to say, “We will continue to redefine and shape the industry. A lot of clients look at construction as a commodity and don’t always see how experience and the right corporate culture can drive a project. A low price does not necessarily mean the best value. This is an industry-wide challenge. JEN COL is determined to show that when you take the time to learn about clients’ needs and when you ensure you have the right internal resources, culture and talent, it all adds up to a great experience and a successful project.”

“I’m excited about our continued growth and expansion,” Jodoin concludes. “I’m excited to reflect on how well we have done while expanding on that and giving our team and our clients an unforgettable, positive experience. I want to raise the bar on the construction industry. That was the goal from the start and what JEN COL will continue to do. I’m excited to build a better future for us all.”

What’s in a Name?

JEN COL is an unusual name for a company. 

How did it come about?
Cory Jodoin, president and CEO, explains, “JEN COL stands for Jennifer and Colinda, my
two sisters.”

He continues, “Perhaps the hardest part of starting the business was registering the name. Back in the 70s there was no quick Google search. You had to write in, wait for approvals… and it all happened back and forth in the mail. 

“My dad tried 19 times with various names and those names would always come back taken. Finally, he amalgamated my sisters’ names and mailed off the application while muttering, ‘nobody will have this one!’ 

“He was right! And that is how our name came to be.”

100-9620 266 ST Acheson, AB T7X 6H6
P: 780-963-6523 • E: jen-col@jen-col.com
jen-col.com

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