Canadian Design and Construction Report
Gowing Contractors has co-ordinated municipal water and wastewater projects since 1998, developing a reputation for high levels of workmanship, effective and efficient problem solving and consistency. As the company’s reputation has grown, so has its capacity. Gowing is currently working on its largest project to date – the $150 million Ashbridges Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant project in Toronto.
Company president Jane Gowing says municipal projects are unique for their requirements and standards and for the variables in timelines and funding. To address these challenges she says it is critical to stay on top of the industry and to be in close communication with clients and project owners.
Gowing Contractors also communicates with consulting engineers regarding designs and future plans because, as she says, “With development, you cannot be playing catch up but must be ready when the time is right.”
Gowing says despite growing recognition of the need for infrastructure spending and investment, that doesn’t always translate to spending commitments. With the recent election and the Liberal party’s promise to increase spending, she is hearing from clients who expect to have more work over the next five years.
In a market in which being competitive means being the lowest bidder, Gowing says her company has developed skill in doing the job faster, better and less expensively. “I encourage staff to come forward with new ideas, to use their imaginations to find ways to do things better.”
The company has a competitive advantage through its own fabrication plant in St. George, On. Here, Gowing offers its clients high quality materials with guaranteed on time delivery.
Gowing also attributes the company’s success to its employees. Though Gowing herself has been recognized by Profit W100 several years as one of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs, she says the award is not really about her. “This award, for me, is recognition of the hard work of building our business and of the hard work of our staff.”
The award process itself has been valuable personally, forcing her to sit down and look at what the company has accomplished, and at how to best grow and move forward.
Gowing says the awards also recognize the challenges, and her success, as a woman in construction. Within her own company of 40, project management staff are split evenly between men and women. This was not a conscious decision, although Gowing encourages women to embark on trades careers. “When you get a group of men and women together looking at solving a problem, the differences in perspective and differences in ways of thinking are going to result in a better overall solution.”
She says she proactively promotes networking opportunities for women. And while she says joint opportunities are equally valuable, she also says there are a lot of networking events more geared towards men. “Women need mentoring to move ahead in their careers and that means women meeting with other women.”
Gowing participates in an informal Women in Water and Wastewater group. “We started as a group of six women who would get together for an evening out to talk and brainstorm.
Over time we’ve grown to 30 plus depending on who is available that night.” Gowing works primarily in the Golden Horseshoe area, taking on projects including Mississauga’s Hanlan Transfer Pumping Station, Oakville’s Water Treatment Plant and the Kitchener Wastewater Treatment Plant. Her team has been called on to travel further though, taking on projects including the Hawkesbury Wastewater Treatment Plant near Ottawa, the Moncton Water Treatment Plant in New Brunswick and advising on multiple projects in Phoenix, AZ. For more information about Gowing Contractors, visit www.gowingcontractors.com.