Professionals in the Right Place

Matrix Labour Leasing

The company was started in 2002 by Shannon Warren, who hired a few employees who worked out of his basement. “We grew it to a 10 million-plus a year business,” explains Mr. Warren, now the President and CEO of Matrix Labour Leasing.

Born and raised in the small town of Rexton, New Brunswick, Shannon Warren didn’t feel as if there were any good opportunities in the area. He moved to Vancouver where he got a job framing houses with a construction company. “That’s where I got my start in the industry, working in the field,” he explains.

After two years in Vancouver, Mr. Warren took a job with a construction company in Calgary, working primarily on commercial projects. A year and a half later, another company moved into Calgary for a concrete project for the SAIT University heritage building. This company was having a hard time finding qualified people, and found itself in dire need of local carpenters. The company knew Mr. Warren from having worked with him on previous contracts, and contacted him for assistance in recruiting local talent.

“They contacted me knowing I was living in Calgary at the time and asked me if I knew anybody locally that could help with the project,” he explains. “Of course I did, and they asked me to get them set up and send them a bill for the services. That’s where the whole idea came to light.”

Mr. Warren and three other carpenters worked on the site, all the while discussing where the idea of providing quality staffing could take them. Not long after, Matrix Labour Leasing was born. “We started small and just built it up from there, learning along the way of course,” says Mr. Warren.

Presently the company is focusing on providing staffing for larger civil and industrial projects that often need a lot of personnel. The hours and duration for these types of contracts are also typically much longer than for smaller commercial jobs. The company has provided staff for a number of significant projects over the years, the most notable perhaps being the LRT line in Calgary. The LRT was a multi billion dollar project taken on by Graham Construction. Matrix supplied a minimum of 40 workers to keep the project moving along properly while staying on budget and on schedule.

Another feather in the company’s cap is the 800 million dollar SEST, the South East Ring Road in Calgary. “It’s one of the biggest road construction projects in Calgary. We have about 40 men on that project right now, helping to build 27 bridges,” says Mr. Warren. “It’s definitely looking like we’re going to be on time and on budget as well on that one.” The new SEST will be opening on October 1, 2013 if everything continues as it has for the workers on-site.

To ensure this kind of productivity, Matrix Labour Leasing isn’t just another staffing company that slots the first available worker into the first available job. Matrix offers quality and cost effective solutions for civil, commercial and industrial construction companies that are feeling a backlog that could push them off of their schedule. The employees supplied are qualified and experienced in the area of commercial and industrial concrete form work, and many of them have been with the company for over a decade. “We do also carry a lot of foremen and lead-hands internally that will work alongside [the client’s] foreman,” Mr. Warren explains.

Mr. Warren knows that Matrix’s own reputation is intricately tied to that of its clients. “We look for companies that are bigger and have been around for a long time,” he explains. “We are trying to be a reputable company in Calgary, always trying to do things by the book. We have to look out for our employees, so we will only place them with companies that are well known and have the same values and morals,” he says. “They have to have a good name in the industry so that we know our employees are working for a good company that emphasizes safety over everything, so that we know our guys are getting home safely every night.”

Indeed, for any particular position, Matrix Labour Leasing seeks out employees who have a construction background, if not a trade ticket. The company will not hire anyone who does not have experience, so a résumé with good experience and references is a must. The majority of the staff are hired through recommendations made from an internal referral program. The company also does a lot of social media networking and marketing.

Matrix Labour Leasing has also built a strong reputation for its good corporate citizenship, raising a significant amount of money for the Children’s Wish Foundation at the eleventh annual stampede party. With over 200 participants ranging from clients, employees and friends, it was one of the biggest corporate parties Matrix has hosted to date. It included a silent auction that was able to generate about ten thousand dollars from donated goods and services that were supplied by the company’s suppliers and friends.

The specialization and skills that Matrix has cultivated sets it apart from other temporary labour supply companies. As Mr. Warren explains, “[Clients] call us because we have very good labour in our pool, we are very professional, we have been around for a long time, we aren’t as fly-by-night as the other companies that provide staff, we pay our employees properly, we don’t cut corners and we take care of safety.” He continues, “We were COR certified in 2008, and we have our own safety program that we implement each and every day with all of our employees on all of our sites. We’re handling not only the labour but the safety aspect and the paperwork as well.”

Essentially, with a single phone call, a construction company can have 15 qualified employees ready to work and any issues with those workers can be handled with the same efficiency. Matrix also helps to reduce unnecessary administrative costs for its clients, with payments being made directly to Matrix as opposed to adding a host of additional names to the payroll for a temporary amount of time. Companies are also aware of the wasted time and money that comes from trying to hire their own staff on the fly; when one doesn’t work out, the process has to be repeated. Matrix Labour Leasing is like hiring an HR department, safety manager, workers and references all in one; a single employee with as many hands as are needed.

Last January, Matrix Labour Leasing was ranked 7th on the Fast Growth 50 list in Alberta Venture magazine. The company was also featured in the June issue of Profit 500 magazine, while Shannon Warren was nominated for The Leaders of Tomorrow award with Business in Calgary. Mr. Warren happily shares that, “being in business for the eleventh year and winning three awards, this has been a very good year for us.” For this dynamic and growing company, the future looks very bright indeed.

June 24, 2018, 3:01 AM EDT

A Proactive Approach to Resolving a Longstanding Debate

About forty skilled Central and South American workers from Ecuador, Peru, Columbia and Costa Rica came to British Columbia, Canada as temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in 2006. This story incited Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) call for reforms to Canada’s TFW program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP). LiUNA, a powerful voice within the construction industry with over half a million members – 110,000 of whom are in Canada – has been the only Canadian union to address the issue.