PCL Construction Services Inc. Glendale

Business: Construction and general contracting

Founded: 1906

Local Employees: 121

Founded 101 years ago, PCL Construction Services is all about longevity and stability both in its business and corporate culture.

The business is all about building structures that stand the test of time. But it's the firm's employee ownership plan that's provides its internal strength PCL is entirely worker owned.

After a year with the company, any staffer of the construction and general contracting firm, even clerks and receptionists, can own shares in the company, something that those who participate say makes them much more committed.

"We all have to work, why not work at a nice place and get a piece of the big pie?" said Anne Schimmel, the company's human resources manager and a 14-year PCL veteran. "It's our company, which makes it all the sweeter. When we have a great profit year we all partake in that. It's really something special."

Employees have owned the company through the equity program since the late 1970s. Though the company wouldn't release specific numbers, more than half of the employees participate in the ownership. There's not a lot of turnover, either.

It's common for employees to stay with the company for more than a decade. One staffer in the accounting department has been with PCL for 43 years, another for 26. PCL employees said the lack of turnover lends to a sense of stability. (The Los Angeles branch opened in 1983; veterans came from other locations.)

"When people come to PCL they just don't leave," said Paula Stamp, the company's business development manager. "A lot of our employees are long term, which I think speaks very highly of the kind of place this is to work. People like it here."

The company has locations through the United States and Canada, with the Los Angeles office a unit of PCL Construction Enterprises Inc., itself the U.S. arm of Canadian construction giant PCL Employee Holdings Ltd. Employees buy shares in the Canadian holding company, but each local office operates as its own profit center and distributes them among workers.

Among recent jobs, the Los Angeles office is the general contractor at the Los Angeles Unified School District's Central Los Angeles High School, the Centre Street Lofts mixed-use project in San Pedro and parking structures for AEG's L.A. Live complex downtown.

The construction services firm has a heavy emphasis on safety and employee education, and asks each employee to complete 35 hours of "continuing learning" each year. It may sound onerous, but the education program runs the gamut from traditional safety training classes to design software training, or even language classes if applicable.

"It's anything that enhances the employees' ability to do their job," Stamp said. "This is the kind of thing that can really advance people's careers, and we emphasize that."

It's not all work and no play, however. There are informal Friday afternoon gatherings at the 17,000-square-foot offices, where the employees can snack, chit-chat and even party when they land a new contract. PCL also will cater lunch when employees are working hard on a project. And on most Wednesdays PCL holds "college of construction" meetings, during which workers watch an educational video and have a catered lunch.

"It can be expensive to do that from an accounting standpoint," Stamp said. "But you realize it makes a huge difference for people and we do it because we want to."

Other benefits include eight paid holidays annually, three weeks of paid vacation to start and a morning "flex and stretch" warm-up routine.

"It's a very friendly place especially because we all respect each other," said Vice President Colin Terras. "We work hard and along the way have some fun."

Anne Riley-Katz

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.