Operations manager Steve Schmalz joined PCL in 1999 as a field engineer. In his first two years, he travelled to jobs in Sudbury, Ontario, and Flin Flon, Manitoba.
He spent the next year as an estimator helping the Winnipeg district land the MTS Centre project, home of the Winnipeg Jets, before heading back out to the field to start up the Brandon Regional Health Centre.
Over the course of the project, he was promoted to project manager, and in that role he became involved in a number of key projects for the Winnipeg district. These included that city’s water treatment plant and an ethanol plant in Minnedosa, Manitoba, constructed in partnership with PCL’s Industrial group.
PASSING KNOWLEDGE TO NEW EMPLOYEES
A native of Winnipeg, Schmalz graduated from the University of Manitoba’s civil engineering program. As a member of PCL’s Operational Excellence training team, he now passes along his knowledge and experience to coworkers and new employees. Schmalz, these days based in Ottawa, is the corporate winner of the 2007 Robert Stollery Construction Leadership Award, and was selected for that distinction among the winners from all PCL districts.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Among the Schmalzes, working for PCL is a family affair. Project director Paul Schmalz, Steve’s father, is a 37-year veteran of the organization; his brother Tom is a project manager in Winnipeg; and his youngest brother John recently joined PCL in Toronto as a field engineer. Schmalz sees his workplace as an extension of this environment: “The way we do business and support the people we work with reflects the fact that we treat each other and our clients as the members of a family would,” Schmalz says.
Despite his pedigree, Schmalz didn’t always consider himself destined to work in construction: language and music were strengths in his early years, and he once considered following those paths. Fortunately, his career at PCL has provided opportunities to pursue both of those avenues in an indirect way, performing as part of an all-PCL band in Winnipeg and helping write proposals in Ottawa.
But his true passion will always be building. “It is extremely rewarding to put something that is literally concrete in place,” Schmalz says. “Being able to see something physically there at the end of the day about which you can say, ‘You know what? This is what we built,’ gives you an amazing sense of accomplishment.”