When Sean Lundy’s dad, Michael, launched the construction firm that bears his name a half-century ago, he embraced a simple philosophy that had profound consequences for the company: Great buildings are erected on a foundation of mutual respect between contractor and client.
“My father was always a relationships person,” says the younger Lundy during an interview with OBJ at the company’s downtown headquarters on Metcalfe Street.
“Solid relationships built on confidence and trust – that’s what came naturally to him, and that’s really what fuelled his success over the years. That’s what I learned from him, was how important relationships are.”
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Over the years, that mantra of “relationships over bricks” has served M.P. Lundy Construction well. From its humble beginnings as a small three-person operation in 1967, the company has evolved into a major player in the Ottawa construction scene.
Thanks to a series of marquee project wins over the past few years, the firm is making its first appearance on OBJ’s list of fastest-growing companies at No. 2.
It’s a rare honour in an industry that’s generally characterized by slower, steadier growth. But Lundy points to one of his firm’s biggest recent jobs – the construction of Giant Tiger’s 550,000-square-foot distribution centre in Johnstown, south of Ottawa – as an example of how the company he now leads has forged lasting and fruitful partnerships with its clients.
After initially hiring Lundy Construction for a “small renovation project” in 1997, the Canadian retail giant later turned to the Ottawa firm for several other jobs, culminating in the massive Johnstown warehouse undertaking in 2015.
“They needed a facility that was state-of-the-art and they came to us for it,” says Lundy. “As our clients’ companies have grown, we’ve grown with them.”
Year founded: 1967
Local headcount: 45
Product or service: Design/build projects, construction management and general contracting
Three-year revenue growth: 794.4%
2018 ranking: #2
A graduate of the University of Western Ontario who earned a bachelor of arts degree in English, Lundy joined the firm full-time in 1990 and took over from his father as CEO in 2003.
A B.A. in English might not seem like the most natural path into the business, but Lundy says too many people in the industry overlook the importance of being a good communicator.
“We are humans dealing with humans,” he says. “And 95 per cent of the problems that we encounter on construction sites are problems that are based in communication breakdown.”
Making sure he fully understands clients’ needs – as well as his penchant for meticulous planning – has allowed Lundy and his team to consistently deliver on challenging projects.
He proudly notes the company recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation of the Lord Elgin Hotel – which required it to essentially rebuild every one of the historic downtown lodging’s 355 rooms while the hotel remained open to guests – three months ahead of schedule.
A few years ago, he adds, the firm began to rethink the way it did business in an effort to land larger contracts.
Instead of relying on individual project managers to steer jobs to completion, Lundy Construction began taking a more “team-oriented” approach to its work, calling on resources from multiple job sites when necessary to solve particular problems.
Since then, the company’s headcount has more than doubled to 45 and its revenues have risen exponentially. Among its other high-profile projects are renovations at the Global Centre for Pluralism on Sussex Drive and Telesat’s new headquarters at 160 Elgin St.
“We had an appetite for bigger jobs, and we took a very strategic approach to how are we going to be able to fulfil these jobs,” Lundy explains. “We’ve got all kinds of smart people around the table that are all working together to fulfil the goal of success for our clients’ projects.”
Through it all, he says, the satisfaction he and his staff get from turning a client’s vision into reality is what continues to drive them.
“It’s like finding the simplicity on the other side of chaos,” Lundy says with a grin. “And that’s a never-ending pursuit.”