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Building a presence in Northern Ontario

Through organic growth and consolidation, the professional services firm GENIVAR continues to methodically grow to offer clients in a broad range of markets the combined strength of a global organization with world-class experts at its fingertips.

Through organic growth and consolidation, the professional services firm GENIVAR continues to methodically grow to offer clients in a broad range of markets the combined strength of a global organization with world-class experts at its fingertips.

Montreal-based GENIVAR's presence in Northern Ontario extends to offices in Thunder Bay, Timmins, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie where staff bring considerable expertise in mining, pulp and paper, hydroelectric power, renewable energy, municipal infrastructure, and dam safety and maintenance.

For decades, the Montreal-based engineering firm was a mainstay in Quebec where it rapidly grew between 1959 and 2005, with expertise in sectors covering infrastructure, buildings, transportation, environmental services, industrial and mining.

From 2006 onward, the corporate focus centred on becoming a multidisciplinary national firm through a series of deft and strategic acquisitions of well-known and respected regional firms that possessed specific capabilities and a deep client base.

“Across Canada, the business model was acquisition of successful entrepreneurial firms and allowing continued local autonomy with a view to running efficient operations,” said Dave Knutson, GENIVAR's regional director for Northern Ontario, whose own firm, Cook Engineering of Thunder Bay, was acquired in February 2010.

The result has been a cultivation of skill and expertise from prominent engineering and design firms with specific expertise across GENIVAR’s core sectors.

Today, GENIVAR and its clients can draw upon resources and technical expertise from a network of more than 200 employees in Northern Ontario and 5,000 across Canada.

“It gives us additional bench strength and access to different skill sets,” said Knutson. “We can draw on the expertise of the mining office in Val-d'Or, Que. to support our Thunder Bay mining efforts. Similarly, the combined strengths of the Northern Ontario offices can be applied to support each location’s market sector.”

GENIVAR's defined mission in 2011 was to become a global player by 2015.

Extending that international reach was achieved last year by joining with WSP Group PLC, a global professional services consulting firm based in the UK and specializing in buildings, transport and infrastructure, management and industrial, and energy and environment.

Together, the merged firms represent about 15,000 employees in 35 countries.

“That's quite exciting because it opens up more opportunities for the group in Northern Ontario because of the interest in the Canadian mining services expertise,” said Knutson.

GENIVAR's Thunder Bay office alone brings considerable knowledge in the mining, transportation and renewable energy sectors, particularly co-generation applications for the forestry sector.

“We've started to provide specialized services in mining in support of offices overseas,” said Knutson. “We've got proposals going in for a project in Mongolia and to a Canadian company working in northern Finland.

“That's an exciting opportunity. Regionally we have been coordinating with offices in Australia and the Scandinavian countries. Globally, GENIVAR is supplemented in other sectors where WSP has strong experience, for example in complex design such as rail transport and high-rise buildings. These are areas that really complement GENIVAR's capabilities in Canada.”

What continues to drive the momentum for the Northern Ontario group is specialized heavy industrial services and infrastructure for the mining sector.

“Out of the Thunder Bay office, we have done a number of headframes over the past six years both for regional gold producers and for the potash industry in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick,” said Knutson.

GENIVAR is expanding services to that market by assisting in environmental assessments and technical reporting through scoping studies and bankable mineral resource calculations.

“This now gives us the arrows in our quiver to provide services earlier in the mining cycle,” said Knutson.

While mining takes centre stage in Northern Ontario, Knutson said GENIVAR continues to work with First Nations in offering a full slate of services ranging from the design of community buildings to supporting industrial developments.

With GENIVAR offices in Sudbury and Thunder Bay physically expanding and growing their regional footprint to keep pace with the speed of growth in Ontario, Knutson said it's important that existing and potential clients be made aware of the combined strength of the expanded organization.

“The focus over the next few years will be developing linkages within the Northern Ontario offices so that we can provide a deeper level of services in industry, building services and infrastructure in the major communities.”


GENIVAR, through its combination with WSP, is one of the world’s leading professional services firms, working with governments, businesses, architects and planners and providing integrated solutions across many disciplines. The firm provides services to transform the built environment and restore the natural environment, and its expertise ranges from environmental remediation to urban planning, from engineering iconic buildings to designing sustainable transport networks, and from developing the energy sources of the future to enabling new ways of extracting essential resources. It has 15,000 employees, mainly engineers, technicians, scientists and architects, as well as various environmental experts, based in more than 300 offices, across 35 countries, on every continent.