There are many construction companies in Western Canada, but few offer the “playful” twist provided by GLVT. While general contracting, concrete and landscaping/earthworks are services this company offers, GLVT is best known for its playground, skate park and spray park installations, upgrades and repairs.
Gerry Vogelaar opened GLVT on February 22, 1988.
The company was launched out of necessity,” says Garrett Vogelaar, B.Sc, president and Gerry’s son. “My father used to work for and co-own a construction company but saw a need for the niche products and customer service that make GLVT popular today. He started his own company as a one-man venture. I ‘joined’ at the tender age of six as dad’s ‘helper.’” Garrett laughs, “The truth is, I have been around tools my entire life. I joined officially around 2003 as a laborer.”
GLVT’s evolution would soon veer off the typical path, setting the brand on a journey that would change its long-term future.
Garrett explains, “Around 1997, my parents joined a volunteer committee for a community park that needed to be replaced. My father was the community league president, and my mother was on the treasury committee for the playground. Then, mom got hired by PlayWorks (at the time, a playground equipment supplier) and my father got some contracts with PlayWorks. From there GLVT started building playgrounds and spray parks. That branched out to include pedestrian bridges, gazebos and skate parks.”
When Garrett formally joined GLVT, he had obtained a university degree and was working in a laboratory setting. However, the draw of the family business beckoned – and he wanted to work with his father again. The company transitioned ownership between 2016 and 2017 and Garrett used his increased responsibilities and roles to make big changes at GLVT.
“PlayWorks was our main client. I decided we needed to diversify and branch out. We overcame some significant challenges brought on by the transition and quickly grew from one main customer to around 40. We also began to really specialize in park construction. We continued to flip the script and now we also resell park equipment. GLVT provides 360 degrees of service from our products to our customer dealings, and within a unique niche.”
“He continues, “We do a lot of cool projects that are the centerpiece of a community where people gather and where families spend time together. We get to create landmarks with our parks and spray parks. That is very rewarding for the entire team.”
GLVT has completed more than 1,000 projects of varying sizes in Alberta, including the Arrkann Spray Park in Ardrossan Regional Park, the new wheelchair accessible swing in Spruce Grove’s Jubilee Park and the popular indoor playground inside of Parkland County’s Tri Leisure Centre.
Some of the installations are very distinctive. Garrett explains, “McKenzie Towne wanted a 35 to 40 foot fountain in their spray park. We had never dealt with a fountain before! On top of that, it was a recirculation spray park and set up for use year round with fire pits and a skating rink in the winter. All this made for a very challenging project that we greatly enjoyed.”
That was not the only time GLVT had to be incredibly innovative to get the job done. A playground in Ponoka called for a massively tall structure, attached with screw piles. This feature is not common in North America but that didn’t stop GLVT from learning about it and making it happen.
Then there is the Capilano skate park. GLVT installed pre-fabricated factory-made ramps and finished all the flatwork.
“Most skate parks have shotcrete concrete that is molded in the field,” says Garrett. “For this project, we used ramps indoors in ideal conditions. This means the ramps will last longer and be more durable. We thank the City for being willing to try this innovation in Capliano’s skate park.”
Another service provided by GLVT sees the company retrofitting old recirculation spray parks.
“A recirculation spray park is like a pool,” says Garrett. “It uses water from the municipality but not at the same rate. There is a tank underground that acts as the reservoir. When the water flows into the drain, it moves towards the tank and the pump pulls the water to a filter system to clean it. Then it goes back out to the spray pad. It takes more effort, but it is wonderful for water conservation. Building a new park around an old system is a challenge, but worth it for the value it brings both economically and environmentally to the city, town or municipality.”
The ultimate goal of GLVT, Garrett says, is, “to do great work for communities so they have beautiful spaces. We create landmark parks for families to enjoy. We want all our customers to know that we can help them achieve what they want for communities of all sizes.
“At GLVT, we are firm about our core values, the 5 Ds. Those are, do what you say, dependable teams, drive for improvement, determined to overcome and dedicated to craftsmanship. Those values help us succeed in our unique place in the construction industry. GLVT ensures safety is the primary concern for every team member and for the project as a whole. With GLVT, you get the best every single time. We push safety. We demand quality. And we advocate for both in our industry.”
Garrett, who is a proud recipient of a Business in Edmonton Leaders award, says a big thank you to the late John Kuby of PlayWorks for his role in bringing GLVT into the playground equipment and installation industry. Garrett also thanks the GLVT team, the company’s many clients and the communities the brand is happy to serve.
“We look forward to the future as we continue to build bigger and more complex projects,” Garrett concludes. “We love the construction side of the parks industry; we get to make kids and their families happy.”
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