Anyone who’s ever survived a renovation project knows the frustration of juggling contractors for every task. It can be a nightmare, which helps explain why there would be an eager client base for a company that handles it all—from demolition and design to construction and maintenance. That’s the promise of Calgary-based specialty subcontractor Trotter and Morton, which has played jack of all trades on high-profile construction projects at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and the recently completed Calgary International Airport.
Since 1927, when W.B Trotter partnered with Howard Morton to form one of Alberta’s first commercial construction companies, Trotter and Morton “subsequently and consistently grew” to offer more services, explains vice-president Matt Thomson. Still family-owned and privately held, the business has more than 1,600 employees working on 2,500 projects at any given time, from nine locations in Western Canada.
But Trotter and Morton is no conformity factory: Its people are given agency to operate as de facto business owners. Full-time in-house employees get all the perks of a big workplace (benefit plans, hearty compensation, a safe work environment) alongside the day-to-day freedom of running their own operations. “We have a very entrepreneurial culture that supports the growth and development of each employee,” says Thomson. Between 2012 and 2015, the company invested half a million dollars in education and training for both management and field crews.
The result, says Thomson, is a healthy cohort of long-term employees that’s ever-expanding and always improving. “Ultimately, our model attracts a higher quality of committed employees, who then provide a better service,” he says, “which leads to enhanced customer retention.”