Building Expertise

Greyback Construction Ltd. | BCBusiness

Greyback Construction Ltd. offers unparalleled construction management and contracting services to clients across the province

“A high-quality product, delivered on time and on budget—always.”

As one of the oldest and largest family-run firms in the B.C. Interior, Greyback Construction Ltd. has never failed to live up to its tag line, whether the project is a multi-family residence, a new winery, an industrial complex or even a bridge. Greyback is renowned for its can-do, customer-focused approach to business. Above all, the construction management specialist values the importance of building trust with clients to ensure successful outcomes for every project.

Although its traditional regions are the Okanagan Valley and the Kootenays, this year Greyback has started to serve clients across the province. “We’ve recently included Northern B.C. in our overall scope of activities, and we’re currently doing concrete work for Imperial Metals Corporation’s new Red Chris mine in Dease Lake,” says Greyback general manager Matt Kenyon. “There are huge opportunities in the resource sector in Northern B.C., and we’re at a point where pretty much anything a client needs we can deliver in a timely and efficient fashion, even in remote locations.”

As Greyback turns 30 this year, Kenyon points out that management, 150-plus field staff and more than 20 superintendents are largely responsible for the company’s success and versatility. “Some of these people have been with us for over two decades and really help drive the culture of our business,” he says. Greyback’s management team includes Canadian Construction Association Gold Seal Certified project managers, estimators and superintendents. All staff members are equipped with the most current knowledge necessary to handle complex jobs with extremely tight deadlines, now an industry norm.

In terms of sheer know-how, the company benefits from the fact that the Kenyon family has been in the construction business for four generations in the Okanagan. Greyback’s roots go back to 1937 when Harold Sidney Kenyon started Kenyon Construction Ltd. in Penticton. Harold Kenyon wasted no time actively pursuing other types of projects shortly after launching his homebuilding business in the 1930s, but it was Al and Gordie Kenyon who are widely credited for being the driving force behind the growth of the original company. Because of them, complex jobs eventually became commonplace.

“Our versatility has to do with being located in the Okanagan Valley, which traditionally hasn’t been a huge construction market—at least, not compared to a metropolitan area like Metro Vancouver,” Matt Kenyon explains. “We’ve never had the luxury of being able to chase only one type of project. We diversified out of necessity, and that’s why we’re so dedicated to constant education and skills upgrading. We have to give our very best to every sector we serve.”

After brothers Doug and Larry Kenyon (Matt’s uncle and father, respectively) founded Greyback in 1983, the need for economical construction options in the B.C. Interior resulted in the acquisition of clients in the Kootenays. Matt soon came on board as the fourth generation of general contractors. “Even though our evolution is complicated, we remain at heart old-school general contractors with in-house expertise and our own equipment, which has enabled us to become effective construction managers,” he says.

Last year, in acknowledgment of the sheer scope of resource-based projects dominating the north, Greyback also won a contract for the concrete work for the facilities comprising the [pagebreak]new Red Chris mine, a 30,000-tonne-per-day copper/gold operation expected to begin processing in mid 2014. “We’re about 65 per cent complete, and ultimately we will have poured 25,000 cubic metres of concrete for many of the facilities on site, including the main processing plant,” says Kenyon.

Red Chris is Greyback’s biggest project of 2013, and a logistics challenge. “We currently have up to 100 people on staff, and every week we charter two planes to fly crews out of Penticton to Dease Lake,” says Kenyon. “We also purchased two 48-seater school buses to get them to the actual mine and to bring other crews back home.”

The volume of concrete required for Red Chris is exceeded only by the volume of concrete needed for another significant Greyback project: the $150 million William R. Bennett Bridge in Kelowna—one of the first public-private partnership projects completed in B.C. “For that structure we used 30,000 cubic metres of the material,” says Kenyon. Although SNC-Lavalin was the team leader for the bridge, Greyback provided scheduling, budgeting and local construction knowledge to help the P3 team make informed decisions throughout the project’s execution. Greyback was also responsible for building the pontoons and piers. For its efforts, Greyback won the Canadian Construction Association Innovation Award for “ground-breaking advances in concrete work.”

If Kenyon had a choice, all of the projects coming his way would have concrete as a major building component. “It’s our specialty,” he says. “We’ve done everything from reservoirs and treatment plants to a 15-storey residential tower using concrete.”

The Greyback team also has a fondness for building regional wineries. “We’ve done many of the more well-known ones, including Blue Mountain, Hester Creek, Foxtrot Vineyards and Vincor Jackson Triggs, which is now Constellation,” says Kenyon. “Over the past one-and-a-half years we completed five others: Culmina Family Estate Winery, Painted Rock Estate Winery, Black Hills Estate Winery, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery and Wild Goose Winery. Considering our location, it only makes sense that we would serve the winemaking industry.” Outside of the vineyards, Greyback recently built the new Kal Tire head office in Vernon and completed the HNZ Topflight helicopter school in Penticton, designed to train pilots from around the world.

Greyback also has a reputation for being involved in First Nations projects. “We enjoy a great relationship with many regional bands, and most recently we helped the Osoyoos Band develop its new Senkulmen Business Park near Oliver,” says Kenyon. He is referring to a 112-acre environmentally sustainable business and light industrial park for the South Okanagan, with highway linkages to Vancouver and the Interior, high environmental standards and parkland reserves. The business park was built according to stringent design guidelines. “We constructed one building for the band, plus we provided geothermal components, water treatment and construction management of other park elements,” says Kenyon.

Another First Nations project is for the Penticton Indian Band, with whom Greyback has partnered to develop Skaha Hills, a 500-acre mixed-use residential community that will launch by the spring of 2014 and ultimately contain 400 single and multi-family homes. “This may be the most spectacular residential project in the South Okanagan and it demonstrates the band’s commitment to economic development,” says Kenyon.

Although markets have been soft in the past few years, Kenyon and his colleagues have noticed a comeback in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. “That, combined with our work in remote northern areas, makes us optimistic about the future,” he says. “Our ultimate goal isn’t to grow by leaps and bounds. Instead, we intend to continue focusing on building our expertise, maintaining our relationships and continuous improvement, including education and skills upgrading. It may sound boring, but people are the reason for our success and must be nurtured accordingly. That, along with several mid- to large-size projects yearly, would make us very happy.”