A front-end loader comes in handy for a variety of jobs, including scooping and moving gravel, dirt, sand and other debris. A much more enjoyable use, however, is to put it in park and fill its bucket with ice and drinks, as Taggart Group of Companies did for the 75th anniversary party it hosted Thursday.
Nearly 400 guests turned out to help the family-owned business celebrate its milestone birthday at its headquarters on Albion Road South, not far from South Keys. To accommodate such a large crowd, the gathering was held in the spacious mechanic’s bay located next to the main office building. There was a full-sized yellow excavator on prominent display in the work yard.
In the garage-that-didn’t-feel-like-a-garage were food and drink stations, a trio of musicians and lounge areas to relax in. There were row upon row of hanging pennant flags in the company’s colours, along with dark floor-length velvety curtains that hid whatever tools and stuff were being stored behind them. The place was so spick and span you could’ve eaten canapés off the floor.
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As for the anniversary cake, let’s just hope the task of cutting it into hundreds of slices was a team effort. It was so huge.
Taggart Group of Companies is a major player in construction, land development and property management in the region. It consists of Taggart Construction, Doran Contractors, Tamarack Homes, Tartan Homes and Taggart Realty Management.
The family also runs its own private foundation for its philanthropic giving, of which it does both frequently and generously.
Attendees heard briefly from Taggart Group of Companies chairman and family patriarch Jim Taggart, 81, and his nephew, Scott Parkes, co-president of Tamarack Homes and of Tartan Homes.
Back in 1948, Taggart’s father and Parkes’ grandfather, Harold Taggart, began building new homes for returning war veterans. Recognizing an opportunity in servicing the land, Harold went out and bought the biggest shovel he could find to start an infrastructure company, Taggart Construction. He and his wife, Muriel, also raised seven kids: Jim, Martha (who married Dave Parkes), Tom, Ian, Keith, Paul and Chris. Only Paul is no longer here, having passed away in 2018 at age 61.
Over the decades, Harold’s business expanded and grew as Taggart, his brother Ian and their brother-in-law Dave took over. Gradually, their own children, nephews and nieces began stepping into more senior leadership roles. As for the family’s fourth generation, its oldest members are now in university. The Taggart and Parkes clan has grown to 88 family members, of which 17 work for the company.
Taggart Group is a terrific example of a successful multi-generational, family-owned business in Ottawa. “You may wonder how 17 second- and third-generation Taggarts and Parkes can ever arrive at a consensus,” said Taggart, adding light-heartedly: “So do we.”
The truth is, Taggart and his siblings were raised by their parents to stick together and take care of one another, he told OBJ in a 2021 interview. “We hope it will all continue,” Taggart said Thursday of their cohesiveness, while making special mention of their CEO and CFO, Pierre Bergeron, for his leadership role.
Taggart credited their consultants, suppliers and, “most important, our employees, who now number over 600” for the family’s ability to run their business for 75 years, through three generations.
Parkes also thanked the industry partners and employees, past and present, for their contributions to the company’s success. “Together, we accomplished something really special,” said Parkes. “It’s now my generation’s job not to screw it up.”
Parkes spoke that day on behalf of his entire family. “Please enjoy the rest of the evening and we look forward to welcoming you back for our 100th anniversary in another 25 years,” he said to applause and cheers from the crowd.
Among the invited guests were Claridge Homes founder and CEO Bill Malhotra and his son, CFO Neil Malhotra; Ron Tomlinson, CEO of Tomlinson Group of Companies, and its vice-president of construction, Tim Vizena; Melissa Kruyne, co-owner of building materials supplier KOTT Group; Kevin Yemm, vice president of land development at Richcraft Homes with his brother-in-law, Jeff Smith, president of Smith & Reid Insurance; retired Deloitte partner Carman Joynt; John Brulé, owner of JD Brule Equipment; and Syntax Strategic CEO Jennifer Stewart.
Prominent architect Barry Hobin, founding partner of Hobin Architecture, has been working with the Taggart and Parkes family for nearly 50 years. “They’re my longest, most loyal client,” he told OBJ.social.
“They’re a great group to work with,” he said of their willingness to listen and be respectful of other opinions. And they’re decisive, Hobin added. “They don’t go around in circles.”
Taggart Group COO Derek Howe has been with the company for about six years, which is nothing compared to the folks who’ve been there 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years. “I think that says a lot about what kind of place it is to work for,” he said of the long-term employees. “The family organization is exactly that — a family. Everyone looks out for each other.”
Howe described Taggart as “the heart and soul” of the company. “He still comes in here every day and he takes the time to talk to as many people as possible.”
In 2021, Taggart was honoured with a lifetime achievement award from the Ottawa Board of Trade and Ottawa Business Journal.