The “Solutions” Company Behind North America’s Most Complex Demolition Jobs

Priestly Demolition has its work down to a science: leading the way with innovation, experience and the largest fleet of demolition equipment in Canada

In 2018, Priestly Demolition won the coveted contract to tear down the Victor open-pit diamond mine near James Bay in northern Ontario—but the only way there was by winter road or airstrip. How did they transport their massive machinery? The answer: piece by piece. They dismantled some of the key pieces of equipment, loaded them into a Hercules plane, and flew it all the way up north, where they reassembled it all. 

This kind of ingenuity is precisely what Priestly Demolition is known for. “[Demolition] is always complex and challenging, and what’s nice about Priestly is that we’re able to get very creative,” says Guy Chartrand, vice-president, business operations. The family-owned business routinely brings down 20-storey buildings in downtown Toronto with nary a scratch to the surrounding high-rises: recently, removing the entire core of a five-storey below-ground parking garage, then popped in a new one so the owner could build a new office-condo complex above it, safely. 

In another elaborate project, Priestly demolished a 750,000-square-foot plant in a mere 10 weeks (six weeks earlier than anticipated), despite moving a staggering 57,000 tons of concrete and 5,000 tons of scrap steel. And today, they’re helping Toronto’s Mt. Sinai Hospital with a massive renovation, deftly managing the highly complex process of ensuring their equipment vibrations don’t impede any of the medical operations, machines or procedures. Sometimes, demolition can be a delicate dance, and Priestly Demolition is the industry’s nimblest company.

With the largest fleet of demolition equipment in Canada, Priestly have sheer power on their side. Included in their arsenal: the tallest high-reach excavator in the country, a whole slew of cutting-edge tech, like 3D scanning programs designed to measure the structures, and innovative software that makes rapid demolitions happen. “We’re pretty much the go-to guys when it comes to demolition,” Chartrand says. “We like projects that are more complex. With in-house engineering, we’re really able to tackle those projects in a systematic manner, well thought-out and well planned.” 

Headquartered in King, Ont., the company has around 300 employees, and are on track to hit $100 million this year. Following their World’s Best Demolition Award win in 2016, they’re expanding, with additional offices in Ottawa, Calgary and Virginia.

Clients spanning many industries want to team up with Priestly, from health care and infrastructure to manufacturing, regional land developers to local governments; and it’s because they believe in collaboration. “We work on developing partnerships with our client rather than just being a hard-closed bid, says Chartrand. “Companies are geared more toward managing risk now, so now they look to us as a partner, and typically develop a long-term relationship, where we move on to other projects with the clients. This is because we apply innovative solutions, smart technology and the best, and most experienced people in the industry to every project we take on.”