Conveniently timed with its parent company’s 90th anniversary, global consulting engineering firm GHD held the grand opening of its new North American flagship facility in Waterloo, Ont. on March 22.
Located in Waterloo’s Idea Quarter (a community-based research park at the University of Waterloo), the new facility has been developed by Australian-based GHD as part of its expanding and diversified technical services business across North America.
Over 500 people from what were previously six separate local locations are now working in the new 100,000 sq. ft. work space at 455 Phillip Street, Waterloo.
The new facility is designed to foster greater collaboration. “The move also confirms our commitment to staying in Waterloo Region and to contributing to the community here,” said Steve Quigley, North American general manager, Canada.
GHD Chairman Rob Knott and CEO Ashley Wright travelled from Australia to commemorate the opening, and the company also held its its annual Executive Leadership Forum at the new site.
In a company release following the grand opening, Wright had commented at the event: “In a very practical sense, moving our six Waterloo offices into one location is going to facilitate relationship building within our teams, exchange of ideas and information, and of course create cost efficiencies. But symbolically, this also represents our vision for our globally connected network.
“Across the globe we are bringing our people together to collaborate and share their thinking and resources, in order to create excellent solutions for our clients.”
The theme for GHD’s leadership forum was “Transformation and Growth,” and hosting the event in Waterloo was well aligned with the message. According to the company, the North American region now accounts for over 50% of GHD’s US$1.7B global revenue, and Waterloo is the company’s largest hub in North America.
GHD’s presence in the Waterloo area goes back to the foundation of Conestoga-Rovers & Associates in 1976, a company of five people initially focused on environmental and municipal engineering. Conestoga-Rovers merged with GHD in 2015. Today GHD employs more than 9,000 people globally with 4,000 in the U.S. and Canada.
GHD CEO, Ashley Wright
Wright, who took over as global CEO in 2016, notes that a commitment to ongoing transformation needs to be embedded in their corporate DNA in order to keep pace with the challenges set by the company’s clients around the globe.
“Business transformations used to occur, on average, every six years. Today that has been reduced to two-to-three years. We need to be continuously transforming our own business in order to respond to the fast-changing needs of our clients,” said Wright, in the release.
Wright is confident about GHD’s ability to rise to the challenges being set at the firm’s leadership forum: “GHD has always been a company that is comfortable with transformation. I remember starting at GHD 14 years ago and we had just introduced an Environmental business. Now, Environmental services comprise just over 30% of our global revenue. We talked about an architecture practice. Now, our architecture practice has the largest revenue of any architecture practice in Australia. Two years ago, we introduced an advisory business and that business has tremendous momentum in North America and other regions,” he said in the release.
He believes that for GHD, transformation isn’t viewed as just a business process, it’s a fundamental part of the company’s corporate culture.