Week 8: Cheers to 50 Years, A Story of Transformation!
Please join us for a journey through our evolution as we celebrate our 50th year! Each week we will be adding a post to take you through our story of transformation. To start the journey jump to the bottom of this blog.
What a journey it has been!
Thank you for joining us in this tale of the last 50 years.
We could not have made it this far without each and every client, colleague and personal support networks.
We are just about ready to reveal the true essence of what has made our company so remarkable over the last 50 years.
But first, we must acknowledge that we are never alone. No single engineer works alone at Gray & Fick. No single project consists only of Gray & Fick team members. Our work is a result of a collaborative effort with other professionals. We are but one partner at the table looking to produce outstanding results for our clients.
As much as we bring our own unique strengths and expertise to the project, we recognize it takes the collaboration and cooperation of a larger team of professionals to achieve a successful outcome. We bring expertise in our field to the table and collectively we go further together.
That is why Friday, you will understand that this new banner is not a showpiece to draw attention to our group – it is a statement that says we are coming to the table to elevate a project in search of a tremendous outcome for all stakeholders. We look forward to another 50 years of collaboration, communication, co-creation and co-operation from all our industry partners.
See you Friday!
While taking the time to conduct self-reflection we felt it would only be wise to poll some of our long-term clients, friends and family to get a sense of how we were perceived in the industry.
Time and time again, three simple words were used to describe how we contribute to projects and what we bring to the table:
People want to do business with people they can trust. People they can rely on to be honest and communicative. People that when the going gets tough are ready to show up and make an impact with your best interest in mind. These small action items have accumulated over time to our clients reverberating that they view us as a trusted partner. Someone they can turn to for honest feedback.
As knowledge-workers it is a huge compliment to be told you are thought of as knowledgeable. We do not take this fact for granted. We show up every day ready and curious about new ways of building our collective knowledge base. We take pride in sticking to our area of expertise so that our clients are assured of our mastery in the field whenever we engage with them.
Having a well-designed structure on paper is not enough. It must also be feasible to construct. Real-world practicality can only be achieved through hands-on experience and a willingness to listen to and collaborate with the construction team to determine the most effective approach to problem-solving. Keeping up with current industry trends, considering the capabilities of the workforce, and taking an inquisitive approach to every aspect of the building process are all crucial components of being practical and ensuring success.
We are committed to upholding these three principles while flying our new colours. It is these three elements that served as the foundation in the selection of our new name.
We knew that our core values would be the roots of what we chose to outwardly portray ourselves as. Throughout the 50-year evolution of this firm, that essence is a constant.
With each new employee and every change in our processes, we have remained true to the core values that have guided us from the beginning. The following 8 core values that uniquely represent our firm are as follows:
Commitment to excellence, beyond motivation
Cultivate greatness, practice humility
Belonging through equity, diversity and inclusion
Investing in one another’s growth
Contributing to the betterment of our communities
Work, play rest, Respect the balance
Our strength is the sum of our parts
Passionate about lifelong learning
We are more than just a team of engineers and technologists. We have made it a priority to balance our professional lives with personal pursuits. Our workday allows for some flexibility that accommodates other priorities and allows us to give back to our communities in a meaningful way.
Our commitment to community council meets regularly to ensure our community outreach and charity programs are always moving forward. The council has a mandate in place to ensure that we are giving back in four distinct sectors of our community: the next generation, those in need, medical illness and our neighbors. By planning community outreach events that are geared toward these sectors, we ensure our commitment to serving the community is made a priority.
Our fun club is dedicated to improving our company culture and team cohesion. This group is responsible for planning and executing team-building activities, our book club, company BBQ's and parties. Their mandate is one way that we manage the demands of our personal and professional lives.
We add to our group solely on the best individual to suit the needs of the group. This has resulted in a diverse and talented group of professionals who are not only skilled and driven, but also friendly and welcoming.
A knowledge and learning officer have both been established to ensure that the groups' collective knowledge can be stored and shared in an efficient way and that the group continuously expand our expertise in structural engineering.
There was never any doubt that while we have deliberately chosen to fly a new flag, we do so from the same soil and roots that have been so critical to our group's success.
Adam Palmer, Bill Fick and Travis Parker make up our board of directors. They meet annually to assess our progress and plan for the future. During an annual meeting nearly two years ago while reviewing our annual statistics it became obvious that in recent years the company had evolved from being a small partnership to a mid-sized engineering firm.
We had made improvements in our process and we were shifting to a team-based leadership model. Although we wanted to retain our strong culture, we knew that it was necessary to visibly demonstrate the extent of our growth. We started by looking into our 50 years of history and asked the question: who are we really?
Fortunately, we were predominantly on the same page with regards to who we are as a company and what we aspire to become. As a business that relies on our expertise, we knew that to do this right we needed to hire an expert. With the help of tbk creative, our vision came to life! Now after more than 18 months of deliberation, late nights and amazing collaboration we are set to re-emerge under a new label to showcase the significant maturation of our existing firm.
As a collaborative effort we are confident this new label represents not only our current identity and who we have always been, but also our aspirations for the future. It is a symbol of our combined effort and confidence in our ability to continue providing exceptional service and solutions to our clients.
Diversified ownership leads to a more well-rounded, stable, and sustainable company that is better equipped to weather storms and succeed in the long-term. During our 50-year evolution, establishing a sustainable ownership structure that facilitates collaborative decision-making has been crucial in establishing a strong foundation.
As we continue our transformative journey it is important to pay tribute to three key people in our organization.
Steve Desjardine joined Gray & Fick in 1999 and became partner in 2000. Steve made it possible for Bill to focus on the craft of engineering while he oversaw the drawing development department. Steve and Bill made a formidable one-two punch that continued our already strong tradition of excellence.
As a detail-oriented person Steve has made it a priority to ensure the quality of our design drawings are unmatched in the industry. Anyone who knows Steve admires his approachability, determination and practical attitude. Steve is regularly found coaching our staff at all levels and sharing the many lessons learned he has picked up along the way.
In addition to his professional contributions, Steve is also a vocal advocate for charity. He frequently devises new ways to fundraise and support charitable organizations to ensure we are giving back to the community. Steve is so much more to Gray & Fick than any title or small blog could convey and has been instrumental in our long-term success.
Today, we are also excited to officially announce our two newest partners at Gray & Fick: Dylan Dowling, P.Eng., and Taylor Keck.
Dylan Dowling joined our team and quickly jumped into a lead design role on complex projects. His technical skills and approachability have made him a go-to resource for our engineering staff. Dylan’s time in grad school and as a teaching assistant at the University of Waterloo armed him with the skills to absorb complex theories and break them down for others. He loves giving back to his community and regularly does so in ways like donating blood and organizing multiday engineering competitions to foster the next generation of engineers.
Dylan's partnership in our company adds to the already strong technical expertise of our ownership group. As a technically minded structural engineer, Dylan will be pursuing the latest advances in structural engineering and looking to incorporate them into our practice. His love for combining technology with traditional structural design will keep Gray & Fick on the cutting edge of future technical innovations in our field.
Taylor Keck first joined Gray & Fick as a co-op student and later returned as a technologist after graduating from Fanshawe College. Her ability to understand and apply technical concepts has quickly made her a go-to resource for our staff. Her attention to detail, passion for quality work, and ability to quickly learn new technologies has made her an invaluable member of the team. Taylor has a natural gift for working with clients and is always willing to go above and beyond what is expected. Her love for giving back to her community is shown through her volunteering and her advocacy for empowering young professionals in the construction industry.
Taylor's partnership in our company ensures that our relentless commitment to excellence will continue in perpetuity. She bolsters our ownership group with her down-to-earth and practical-minded attitude, which has earned the trust of all those she works with. Her keen business sense is matched only by her genuine love for doing things the right way.
As partners, Steve, Dylan, and Taylor have had integral roles in helping to define our transformation and will continue to be instrumental in our future growth and success.
When Bill Fick joined the firm in 1985, Gray & Associates was a successful engineering firm known for its structural expertise and commitment to providing cost-effective structural designs well-suited for their purpose. Bill became partner in 1991 and the firm evolved into Gray & Fick. While continuing to uphold Fred Gray’s traditions we have also embraced new practices that have allowed us to adapt, grow and thrive throughout the years.
The single greatest evolutionary step between Gray & Associates and Gray & Fick has been the development of close-knit collaborative project teams. The trust we show in one another has paved the way for our drafting and engineering team members to scrutinize every aspect of a project ensuring that we take the time to get it right. This has made us industry leaders in quality and has allowed us to scale up capacity by taking full advantage of staff members’ unique strengths and capabilities.
This evolutionary step is a testament to Bill Fick’s unwavering leadership, attention to detail and commitment to continuous improvement. Under Bill’s leadership, all team members are empowered to provide input into designs and share their unique perspectives enabling our sum to be greater than our parts. This has meant that every project benefits from the collective knowledge and experience of the entire team.
Gray & Fick’s commitment to collaboration and teamwork has made it possible for the company to take on larger scale projects and more of them without sacrificing quality, customer service or attention to detail.
Fred Gray was the founder of our engineering firm in 1973. Fred worked hard to provide efficient designs that would work best for the project and reduce construction cost. He did not gauge his time on the fee but on the project itself. He believed in properly detailing the structural work well beyond what the industry standard was at the time.
The firm has carried Fred's philosophy and developed it further. We work closely with the client to ensure the appropriate design is achieved. We ensure the contract documents are well detailed to minimize confusion during construction.
The core values this firm was founded on 50 years ago remain the cornerstone and in many ways the catalyst for our success and growth today.
While we have been known by different names over the last 50 years, we have always kept our focus on helping people solve complex structures.
As an organization, we have gone through three distinct phases of evolution:
Partnership; and now
We’ve had an immensely successful run these last 29 years under the name Gray & Fick and have now come to a significant milestone in our 50th anniversary year. To celebrate this success, we felt it was appropriate to shed our skin and re-emerge as the more mature medium-sized structural engineering firm we are today.
Over the next 7 weeks, we are excited to take you on a journey through our evolution, starting from its establishment in 1973 up until the present day. This will be a story of growth, transformation, and progress and we hope you will gain a deeper understanding of who we are and what we stand for.