People Make the Difference

Hood Group

At Hood Group, people make the difference. This Alberta based, full-service Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management (EPCM) company relies on a top notch team to set it apart.

In this highly competitive industry, all EPCMs must maintain a very high standard of work to remain viable, Principal Don Quist explains. “You have to be of a certain quality just to stay in the game,” he points out. “So for us to be better or worse than our competitors, it really comes down to our people.”

To this end, the people at Hood know how to deliver. The team’s technical ability is second to none – but that’s not what makes them stand out within the high performing EPCM world. “It is the interactions and the relationship that we develop with the client over the course of the project,” Account Manager Ryan Krawchuk insists.

In fact, maintaining strong relationships is so important at Hood that the company’s engineers interact with clients themselves, rather than passing the responsibility off to a sales team. “An engineer who is out there working with, and developing, a relationship with another engineer will ensure that [the job] is top quality,” Mr. Quist points out. A salesperson, on the other hand, may not have the same level of technical understanding.

To be sure, the client response has been huge. “A lot of the people we are selling to and dealing with are engineers, and they would much rather talk to an engineer than a salesperson,” Mr. Krawchuk explains. There is an underlying, mutual understanding; interactions are smoother and communication is clearer. “It brings a higher comfort level to the client.”

Engineers haven’t always been responsible for managing accounts at Hood. “About three years ago we made a change,” Mr. Quist recalls. “We decided it was time for our engineers to be our salespeople.” It was a bold move. “If you want to see a bunch of people with big, scared looks on their faces, just go tell engineers that they have to go sell,” Mr. Quist laughs. “Because that is not what they are comfortable doing.” Hood brought in an outside company to run a sales instruction program in order to prepare the engineers and bring them on board with the idea.

The results have been even better than expected. “Engineers have a belief in general that it is the quality of their work that sells – and it is – but all engineers have good quality work typically,” Mr. Quist points out. What really makes Hood engineers stand out is that they “actually take the responsibility of establishing a relationship with their clients. That is important.”

Hood also encourages teamwork and relationship building within the company. “We are much more social driven than what is normally in our industry,” Mr. Quist says. Industries that tend to be more creative and out of the box, such as software and marketing, may have cultures with a similar emphasis, but “the culture that we have is probably unique in the engineering world.”

From simply eating lunch together to attending weekend-long organized events, the entire office enjoys spending time together. “It is a very social office environment,” says Corporate Communications Director Cathy Whitney. The staff feels free to float ideas by Ms. Whitney for fun, team building events, “and then we will make it happen,” she says. Picnics, golf tournaments, or curling games, “We will do whatever our staff feels like doing.”

The high turnout at these events is a clear sign of employee satisfaction. “I [can] measure our success [regarding] the happiness of the company by the participation in our social events,” Mr. Quist remarks. For example, 90 percent of the staff attended the company’s Christmas party in Jasper last year, which lasted an entire weekend.

Hood’s unique culture also provides the support that the company’s talented engineers need. Employees are given the freedom to “be who they want to be,” Mr. Quist says. “It is important to us that people who work for Hood have the ability to do what they want to do and have the freedom to complete the projects that they have been asked to do in the manner that is required,” he explains. “We don’t have a sign-in where you have to [record] when you start and when you leave. We aren’t an adult daycare.”

Hood makes it a priority to provide an upbeat and rewarding work environment because management understands that employees are the driving force behind the company’s success. This means that life isn’t all work and no play at Hood. Getting the job done right is crucial – but so is enjoying one’s career. Employees “have some fun while they are doing [their job],” Mr. Quist reports. “You get that feel as soon as you walk into our office.”

The level of camaraderie and company pride is so high at Hood, in fact, that the staff have taken to calling themselves “Hoodlums.” Not surprisingly, many industry insiders are eager to land a job at this unique engineering firm and become Hoodlums too. The process is selective, however, and there are always far more qualified candidates than positions. “We get a lot of applications,” Mr. Quist says. “That says something about the company.” Future Hoodlums must not only have top notch skills, they must also be a good fit for the company culture. “It’s not an easy team to make. We are very selective.”

Once on board, Hoodlums almost always stay for the long term. “We have very little turnover,” Mr. Quist reports. “We have a lot of people who have been here for a long time, and we very rarely ever lose somebody to a competitor.”

Interest in working for Hood increased even more when the company was named one of the best 50 Small to Medium Size Canadian Employers three years in a row. The ranking takes employee feedback into account, so it is considered an accurate assessment of employee satisfaction. “All our staff put the results in; that is how we are judged,” Mr. Quist explains. “It doesn’t just come from management. It is from within our own culture.”

Moreover, the team didn’t sit on their laurels after being named one of Canada’s best employers. Instead, they analyzed the other winners to improve their own culture even more. “We used it specifically to help us measure ourselves against the best companies [in regards to] HR; where we excelled and where we needed to do better, whether it was benefits, whether it was employee recognition.”

Hood Group is a top EPCM firm recognized for its leading edge technical skill – but it is the company’s culture and dedicated staff that truly set it apart. Hood’s supportive and innovative environment breeds success, a fact that is reflected in the company’s current growth. “Our company has doubled in size in the last three years,” Mr. Quist reports. Furthermore, Hood’s first international office is slated to open in Texas by the end of this year. Momentum is high, and the Hoodlums are eager to take the company to the next level.

For more information about Hood Group, please visit http://www.hoodengineering.com/

August 17, 2017, 11:40 AM EDT

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The Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) is a National Union representing over 500 000 members – over 110 000 in Canada with an International Office in Hamilton, Ontario. It has Local Unions across the country and is the most common union of construction, healthcare, waste management, and show service workers in this country. In fact, LiUNA, established in 1903, is Canada’s largest Building Trades Union.