Why He’s Top 40: He brings the benefits of big business to the community.
Long before Tim Coldwell became president of Chandos Construction, he believed business should be a force for good. He was fortunate, then, to start as project coordinator with a 100 per cent employee-owned company, one that’s philosophy has always been about innovation and collaboration, during his first year of Engineering at the U of A. Almost two decades later, he gets to live out his ideals and help the company do the same. “The company really is like a second family to me,” Coldwell says. “One fear I had is that Chandos would lose its focus on people as we grew; that’s why we’re focusing on people, culture and systems as enablers of client satisfaction and growth.”
The biggest opportunity for Coldwell and Chandos to walk their talk came in 2015, when the Alberta construction market softened. They had to find a way to keep revenue up and employees working. “We asked ourselves, ‘are we going to sit back, get squeezed on margins and lay off workers, or are we going to do something about it?'” he says.
So, Chandos opened an office in Vancouver (as well as Toronto and Ottawa) and relocated a significant amount of people to B.C. and Ontario. The significant risk came with no guarantee of reward but, three years later, the strategy of geographic expansion has paid off handsomely.
Chandos works with United Way, Habitat for Humanity and the Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton to hire at-risk kids and put them to work in trades, where they could start careers as Chandos employee stock owners. Since late 2017, it’s partnered with Norquest College’s Alberta Indigenous Construction Career Centre to hire Indigenous craft workers and construction professionals, a cause close to Coldwell’s heart, as he’s a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. It’s about authenticity, Coldwell says, for him and the company. “It’s not just about writing a big cheque. It’s about going to work and giving back to the community.”