Canadian Consulting Engineer

Working Together

The firm of Buckland and Taylor in Vancouver has won numerous awards for bridge designs and is working on projects all over the world. The founding principals, now semi-retired, belong to the Order of...

August 1, 2009   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The firm of Buckland and Taylor in Vancouver has won numerous awards for bridge designs and is working on projects all over the world. The founding principals, now semi-retired, belong to the Order of Canada and last year won the ACEC Beaubien Award. asked them individually what made their partnership so successful.

PETER TAYLOR

That’s a good question, because when you look at other companies, a partnership of similarly qualified equals doesn’t always work in the long run.

I think it worked because although we are both designers we come at it from slightly different angles, and we have a high degree of respect for each other’s contributions.

From Day One, Peter Buckland had the vision that we were going to create a world class engineering company. He was completely confident of that vision and that it could be made to happen.

My very simple analogy for running a consulting company was, first you need to generate the work, and second you need to do the work, and third you need to get paid for the work. You need all of those things and without them you won’t be able to succeed.

I did some business development and lots of design. And Peter did lots of business development and lots of design. There was overlap, but there’s no question that the vision end of things was his strength, and holding it all together and getting the stuff out of the door was my strength.

We also developed a very close dialogue. We would have lunch together four or five times a week. And all the time we would talk about engineering. So we were both aware of everything that was going on in the company and were able to back stop for each other with perfect fluency.

PETER BUCKLAND

Obviously a big reason is trust, in a number of ways –I mean trusting each other’s technical ability, but also trusting that we’ll do what we say we’ll do and what it takes to get things done. So I can trust that if I leave something in Peter’s hands, it will happen.

I think, though, another reason is that we have the same sort of business ethic and outlook on how we want to conduct our lives, and particularly our business lives. So there wasn’t a lot of conflict there.

Mostly I think for me I needed someone to talk to occasionally, to bounce ideas off. I can remember very often going into Peter’s office and saying, look I need to discuss this with you. By the time I’d finished explaining what the problem was, I kind of had a solution.

I think very largely we had the same skills, to be honest. I’ve always regarded Peter as technically very strong indeed.

It’s also important to note that Brian Morgenstern, P. Eng. was an equal partner in the firm. He has had an enormous contribution to the company, really enormous. So we three ran it as a sort of triumvirate.

Now all good books on how to run a business will tell you that you need some kind of a structure with somebody at the top, a chief executive. We never did that. We did everything by consensus, which is slow because it’s difficult sometimes to get all three on board. But it’s very solid, because once you’re on board, the decision stands.

Q. Is it confusing for the staff with the two Peters?

Well it’s not confusing for me, because I know he’s the other one. We are known as Peter T and Peter B. I think the staff can sort it out. For clients it’s a bit more difficult because sometimes they can’t remember which one is which.


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