Entrepreneur of the Year 2023: How Joshua Gaglardi built up Orion Construction during the pandemic

Orion helps light industrial and commercial developments with design, permitting and more

The Kickoff: He’s still a young man, but Josh Gaglardi has already spent a life working in construction. You might recognize the last name—his uncle is Bob Gaglardi, the famed owner of real estate giant Northland Properties and the Dallas Stars NHL team. At 13 years old, Josh was sweeping construction sites, and he later worked summers at some of Northland’s restaurants. After earning an economics degree at UBC, Gaglardi served as a project manager for la familia for a few years. Eventually, he decided it was time to go out on his own. “I wanted to be able to wear a bunch of hats, do everything, learn everything,” he says. So, he joined a smaller company and learned the ins and outs. Six years later, in 2018, he was ready to launch Orion Construction, an all-in-one construction firm that handles design, permitting and construction management for light industrial and commercial developments.

Action Plan: “Starting a brand-new company in construction is incredibly hard,” Gaglardi says. “It’s hard for people to commit to you with what can be the biggest investment of their life. And the majority of clients always want tried, tested and true. The barriers to entry are really high.” After the pandemic hit, however, Gaglardi pounced. “On the backside of COVID, warehousing and commercial construction accelerated crazily. I had a whole year of backlogged stuff and I did it all the way through 2021,” he says. “We were building a pipeline and hiring people from companies that were maybe taking a pause.” Still, there are always challenges lurking in B.C.’s most ballyhooed industry—“Now it’s interest rates,” says Gaglardi. “I’m waiting for my big break in this whole thing where there’s clear skies and things are going well. But it’s pretty good, we’ve been fortunate.”

Closing Statement: He’s being more than a little humble. Orion, which focuses on clients in the Lower Mainland outside the core of Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond, has around 50 employees and will do some $135 million in revenue this year.


Do you have any advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs?

I gotta stress: it’s really tough. You have to come in with eyes wide open—talk to people who have been entrepreneurs and know what’s required. Once you’re in, you’re in.

Do you have any embarrassing obsessions?

Lego and airplanes, man. When I was a kid I was obsessed and I’m still obsessed.