OHL Construction Canada

Since its humble founding in 1911 and its first substantial project in 1912 – two wharves in the Port of Lisbon, Portugal – the Spanish-based Obrascón Huarte Lain (OHL) Company has become an international leader in public and private infrastructure projects. And now that one of the global forerunners in the construction of hospitals, railways, toll roads, and bridges is firmly and strategically planted in three Canadian locations, the future is looking bright for OHL Construction Canada.



By David MacDonald O n the international scene very few large concessions and con- struction corporations are so consistently represented in the Engineering News-Record’s (ENR) Top-100 Business Sector lists as OHL. According to the 2014 ENR Global Ratings, OHL is 5th in Highways; 9th in Mass Transit; 12th in Transportation; and 7th in Health Care and Hospitals. In the grand scheme, OHL is the 31st largest inter- national contractor; they are present in more than 30 countries across five continents. Jim Eldert, Director of Business Development at OHL Construction Canada in Toronto, Ontario, believes this success can in part be attribut- ed to the company’s reputation for its industry-leading multi-sector, comprehensive research and development departments. “We value,” Eldert explains, “the creation of infrastructure which benefits human- kind in economic, social and environmentally sustainable conditions, meeting the specific interests of investors, clients and the human resources which are the OHL Group of companies.” This cohesive vision is well-founded in the OHL family. “The company survived two World Wars, the Spanish Civil War, and several global reces- sions,” explains Eldert. Resilience is in the very make-up of OHL so it is little wonder why they invest in state of the art technology. The demands

of 21st century projects like the OHL-constructed high-speed railway lines in Spain and Turkey, the West Light Rail Lines in the city of Madrid, the rehabilitation of New York’s subway, or the airport link for Metrorail in Florida necessitate a forward-thinking orientation. “Considering the com- petition is continuing to grow and to be keen and attentive,” Eldert says, “we have to pay that much more attention to the details when it comes to answering to our clients.” The “specific interests” and “details” of international social infra- structure are boundless and responding to diversity is paramount to strengthening OHL’s competitive edge. Seeking and identifying opportunities – from courthouses, bridges, hydropower dams, tourism and recreational complexes – has made the OHL name synonymous with ingenuity. Referring to the OHL Group’s Strategic Plan and Vision for 2020, Eldert affirms that “excellent management of the Group’s concession portfolio throughout all geographies” is key. With an increasing global demand for private and public sector infra- structure and bearing in mind the fact that OHL is already competitive- ly meeting the majority of these demands on the world stage, it is not at all surprising that Eldert envisions the company further diversifying. In order to continue to grow across business sectors Eldert feels OHL



will need to begin expanding in the direction of “power projects and renewable energy such as wind, hydro, and solar.” This reality, Eldert holds, is one of the many contributing factors which brought OHL to Canada in 2008. “We also have a firm, fair, CEO whom has been with the firm since the 1980s.” Considering one of the lynchpins of OHL’s 2020 Strategic Plan – a plan reaffirmed and updated at conference on March 2nd 2015 in Madrid – is to double in size over the next five years, Eldert feels “Canada will be a large contributor to this growth.” Coupled with Canada’s global reputation as a bastion of conservation and clean energy initiatives, Eldert projects that “Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal government’s deficit spending, along with several provincial party budgets – which are largely geared to replace the aging infrastructure of the country and specifically to build-up public transit systems – will contribute, in the long-term, to the well-being of the economy as well as to the growth and diversification of OHL Construction Canada.” In under a decade, there are already clear signs of this growth in Canada. OHL’s three Canadian offices – located in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec – have forged a lasting path for the company in the Great White North. In Quebec, OHL and its partners have funded and mobilized the various construction phases of the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), one of the largest French-language teaching hospi- tals in the world. In Alberta, OHL and its subcontractors continue to enjoy a multi-proj- ect arrangement with the Alberta Ministry of Transportation. And “here in Ontario,” Eldert says, “we are responsible for TTC [Toronto Transit Commission] subway projects like the Spadina Subway Extension linking Toronto to York, as well as a host of MTO [Ministry of Transportation] projects which range from the GTA [Greater Toronto

Area] and as far away as Marathon, Ontario.”

Even while OHL Construction Canada undertakes what Eldert boasts as “the largest construction project in the province of Quebec at this time,” their gaze is still fixed on the future.

In under a decade, there are already clear signs of this growth in Canada. Looking for signs of OHL’s 2020 Strategic Plan’s growth initiatives on the international scene is encouraging for Eldert and his team. In 2004, the company saw its international expansion reach 15 countries, with 70 percent of revenue persisting in Spain and a 30 percent scat- tering across the map. By 2014, OHL had doubled its international presence to 30 countries, with 20 percent of revenue remaining in Spain and 80 percent spread out amongst the growing OHL family. Eldert is quick to point out that “OHL is now the 8th largest contractor in Latin America,” where growth of investment in transportation infra- structure ranges from 1.5-2.3 percent and consolidation of current operations is underway in Mexico and Chile. If Canada’s projected transportation infrastructure boom lifts the current national invest- ment beyond 1.3 percent, Eldert feels OHL Construction Canada can also begin to make a move from the development stage into con- solidation as well. The Strategic Plan envisions that by 2020, 15-20 percent of OHL’s projected $11 billion CAD revenue flow will come from Canada and the United States.

Electrical Millwrighting Ironworking Piping Fabrication Sheet Metal

OHL Construction Canada

5945 Airport Rd #144, Mississauga, ON L4V 1W5 (647) 260-4880

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as spotlighted in the APRIL 2015 issue of SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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