Quality Testing Services

Metro Group of Companies

Created to serve a need in the marketplace that was not adequately covered, the Metro Group of Companies was formed by President Harry Watson in 1987. Today, with annual revenues of over $27 million, the company has successfully grown by hiring the right people for the job, training, and responding to the needs of its many customers.

“Over the next three to five years, our growth will be substantial in Alberta,” says Mike Johnston, Chief Executive Officer at Metro. “We are expanding through organic growth of the company, and through acquisitions.” Well-known and respected in British Columbia, the Metro Group of Companies is investigating exciting new business opportunities in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and continues to follow the fundamentals set down by Mr. Watson, which starts with bringing in the right people.

Employee Owned

From the beginning, the Metro Group of Companies has valued providing opportunities to people – from local university co-op students to highly trained engineers from around the world – based on their own merits. Unique to the company is an engineering training development program which gives co-op students the chance to rotate disciplines and to grow within the company. Mr. Watson has occasionally hired young ‘green’ staff, and trained them to work with the company and its systems. The common element, according to him: “You couldn’t be a slacker and get a job at Metro.”

For the staff and its many clients, this focus on training, inspiring young people, seeking out the best available talent, and hard work has paid off. After all these years, Metro continues to be a proudly 100 percent employee owned company, one that continues to grow by hiring the best and the brightest worldwide, and training enthusiastic young newcomers to reach their potential.

“As a 100 percent employee owned company, we all work for ourselves and we bring on people with that type of attitude, people with an owners attitude,” says Marc Varty, Business Development & Marketing Director for Metro Group. “A good example of this is ‘People do things, not because somebody is watching them,’ and they do it because it is the right thing to do.”

Virtually a league of nations with employees from 15 countries around the world including Mr. Varty from South Africa and Mr. Johnston heralding from Ireland – Metro Group’s staff includes individuals from Russia, the Philippines, Asia, and many other areas of the globe. “The fact that we can all communicate and get along with one another shows the culture of the company,” says Mr. Varty. “We go out of our way to make sure everybody gets what they want, within limits – obviously we’ve got shareholders that we have to look after – and we work together to achieve a greater goal, which is looking after Metro. We might have 250 employees, but we probably support close to 2,000 people, and that’s our attitude: we look after families, we don’t just look after employees.”

“Metro Can Do It”

With a skilled staff, decades of combined experience, and a “can do” attitude, Metro will get the job done right. The company provides inspection and testing for all phases of construction through both in-house supplemental testing and on site, including construction materials testing, materials engineering and consulting, geotechnical engineering and services, environmental engineering and services, and structure evaluation and rehabilitation. From strength testing to product certification and production monitoring, concrete, Shotcrete and grout mix designs, life cycle analysis, product research and development, quality management for construction and repair projects, geotechnical land use planning and feasibility assessments, geotechnical engineering and services, foundation design, seismic design and much more, Metro Testing is able to facilitate the needs of all clients quickly and professionally.

“Over the years, we have evolved into what the client is looking for, and then try to provide those services,” says Mr. Johnston of the company. “The Metro Group is basically a service provider, but we reach out to the environmental side and the geotechnical side to support the material testing within the business.”

Standing head and shoulders above the competition, the Metro Group of Companies has become a one-stop shop: if the team is unable to complete testing internally, it will work with other laboratories on behalf of the client, which saves customers time, expense, and the aggravation of having to find others qualified to carry out testing on their behalf. “Contractors today want to make one call, have just one invoice,” explains Mr. Johnston of the company, which is in the process of moving towards a total Quality Management System, one where a contractor can get material testing, geotechnical, environmental, traffic management plans, quality management plans and more, all with a single phone call.

Metro Group is one of only 14 companies certified in the OQM (Organizational Quality Management Program) by APEGBC – the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C., which regulates and governs the professions – and only APEGBC licensed entities are permitted by law to undertake, and assume responsibility for, engineering and geoscience projects in the province of British Columbia. “Although we’re a small company, we have been OQM certified in the way we deliver our projects and the way we look after the files on the clients, just as some of the bigger companies have, so that is something that has just happened to us,” says Mr. Varty.

As an Independent construction materials testing company, Metro’s facilities conform to the Canadian Standards for Certified Concrete Testing Laboratories (CSA A28.3 Category II and additional tests). Additionally, the company’s concrete testing personnel have been certified by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) as required, and the American Concrete Institute (ACI). The company’s Abbotsford (Valley Testing Services Ltd.), Burnaby (Metro Testing Laboratories Ltd.) and Kelowna (Okanagan Testing Laboratories Ltd.) facilities are certified with the Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories (CCIL) laboratories, and all certifications serve as a reflection of Metro’s commitment to its clients.

On-Site Testing

There are many reasons Metro Group has earned a solid reputation as well as accolades from major local contractors, engineering and architectural firms, and municipal and provincial government agencies. In addition to using the latest technologies and testing equipment in its labs, the company prides itself on its mobile fleet, which includes well-equipped mobile laboratories and highly skilled personnel who are able to conduct on-site testing on concrete, asphalt, aggregate and soils on remote projects. The company’s abilities to quickly mobilize and dispatch mobile laboratories has earned Metro Group considerable business, and respect, over the years.

“Our dispatchers have years of experience and handle our technicians, knowing at all times exactly where they are and what they have to do,” explains Mr. Johnston. “Typically, our competition have between 10 and 20 technicians; here in the Lower Mainland, we are up to between 70 and 80, so just on volume, Metro can and will be there.” The company’s quick response time was recently illustrated when the team was called by a client who needed testing on site immediately as they were pouring concrete and had neglected to schedule a technician for testing. “Metro was able to adjust our technicians’ schedule and cover the required testing, thereby saving the client additional costs of having to ‘core’ later in order to obtain results.

“That’s the advantage that we have over most of our competition,” says Mr. Varty. “We not only have great staff in terms of service and in attitude, but in the numbers. We have significantly more technicians than the opposition, so we are able to adjust, and that is something the client really appreciates.”

A Range of Projects

The Metro Group of Companies has taken on an impressive range of challenging tasks over the decades. These include materials testing (concrete) for the Telus Garden Office Tower & Residential, which saw the telecommunications giant rebuild its downtown Vancouver headquarters as part of a massive, $750 million office and residential redevelopment plan. Other projects, such as the Sea Span Ship Modernization Project which provided for the construction of seven ships for Canada’s Navy and Coast Guard over seven to 10 years, saw the company handle materials testing (soils) at the site, where considerable infrastructure such as buildings and offices are being built for the $200 million plan.

At present, one of the company’s largest projects remains the $658 million South Fraser Perimeter Road. The project, consisting of a new, 40 kilometre-long four lane route along the south side of the Fraser River from Deltaport Way in Delta to Highway 15 and the Golden Ears Bridge connector road in Surrey and Langley, will vastly help improve Metro Vancouver’s major road network. Since October 2010 and until the project’s completion in February of 2014, the team at Metro is responsible for establishing and implementing the Quality Assurance Program.

“What we are doing there is working for both the owners on the Quality Assurance side of things, as the contract itself had its own Quality Control company,” comments Mr. Varty. Metro’s QA during construction included activities that assured the Concessionaire that the contractors were providing materials and workmanship in accordance with the standards and requirements set by the Ministry of Transportation contract and documents. This included construction material inspection and testing for quality assurance to support the Fraser Transportation Group during the construction of the project, along with providing construction inspection, testing and monitoring of the contractors Quality Assurance and Quality Control Testing and Inspection program for the duration of project.

“Our philosophy is, if you need us, we’ll be there,” concludes Mr. Johnston. “We’ll look at the problem, and we’ll come up with an innovative solution for you. Metro can do it.”

July 21, 2018, 3:50 AM EDT

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