Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019) and National Capital Region's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Modern Niagara Group Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019) and National Capital Region's Top Employers (2019):
- Modern Niagara Group offers a range of opportunities for employees to develop their skills, from in-house apprenticeships and skilled trades programs to leadership symposiums held twice a year
- Modern Niagara Group supports employees who are new mothers with maternity and parental leave top-up payments, to 90% of salary for up to 25 weeks -- and provides parental top-up for fathers and adoptive parents, to 90% of salary for up to 5 weeks
- Modern Niagara Group organizes a variety of social events and celebrations throughout the year, including an annual holiday party with cocktails, dinner and live music, a family fun day and baseball tournament, and the friendly "Battle of Ontario" hockey tournament between the company's various offices
Modern Niagara thrives on its small-company feel
When Paneet Gill joined Modern Niagara Group Inc. after graduating in 2017 from the University of Calgary, she had no experience in the construction industry. "I'd heard the industry can be a hard place to work for women," she says.
With a BSc in Mechanical Engineering, Gill had contacted a number of potential employers, expecting to become a design consultant. But when Ottawa-based Modern Niagara offered her a job, she'd already learned more about the company - and accepted the offer. "Since the day I started," she says, "I've been recognized for my accomplishments, and I've never felt under-appreciated."
For Modern Niagara, Gill's passion, initiative and determination to thrive in a new environment harmonized with the company's five core values: teamwork, determination, initiative, professionalism and passion. "Our core values are part of our DNA," says Brad McAninch, Modern Niagara's CEO.
McAninch not only shares those values with the company's 2,200 employees, he grew up with them. About a year before he was born, his father had become a major shareholder in the local Ottawa plumbing company that would eventually become Modern Niagara. By the time Brad McAninch earned his engineering degree in 1997, the company had become a major mechanical contractor in eastern Ontario and was about to expand into a national organization.
"Our big break came when we were chosen to provide mechanical systems for the Ottawa Senators' new arena," McAninch says. Completed for the NHL team in 1996, the facility led to relationships between Modern Niagara and some of the leading general contractors in Canada.
As the company has expanded throughout the country, its prominence has enabled it to recruit well-qualified employees who share its values and aspirations. Paneet Gill, for example, joined the company after she learned that it is the mechanical contractor on the $1.4-billion Calgary Cancer Centre, near the city's Foothills Hospital, responsible for all sheet metal, mechanical systems and services.
"I have a personal interest in the centre," says Gill, who grew up in Calgary and lost her mother to cancer several years ago.
As a Design Development Project Coordinator, Gill and her teammates focus on the facility's mechanical infrastructure. "My supervisors work to my strengths," she says. "They've accommodated my interest in design. In fact, it was surprising to me how much we're involved in that aspect of the project."
While she works in Calgary, Gill says, Modern Niagara encourages employees to interact with their associates anywhere in the country. "I've reached out through the company's dedicated social media network, for example, to people in Ontario with similar experiences in design to ask for their advice. It's an amazing resource."
The company also encourages employees like Gill to strengthen their qualifications and enhance their leadership skills through continuing education. "I've taken a contract law course," Gill says, "and I'll be taking further courses in other areas, as well."
For Modern Niagara, supporting individual initiative contributes to the company's culture.
"We're a big company," says McAninch, "but it feels smaller. We've cultivated a very supportive environment by emphasizing two key elements. First, don't be afraid to ask for help. We have amazing people here, and they're all prepared to help each other. Second, keep the work environment safe, fun and interesting."
That positive environment not only attracts employees to Modern Niagara, it also supports the company in maintaining its leadership in the industry. "Without good people, we're just a logo and two words," says McAninch. "Anybody can do what we do, so we have to do it better than anybody."
Modern Niagara Group is built on family values
When the company where Kelly-Sun Maisonneuve-Renaud first started her five-year apprenticeship training program closed down, she and most of her co-workers joined Modern Niagara Group Inc.
"I'd heard Modern Niagara was a good company," she said, "but hearing and doing are two different things. I wanted to make my mind up myself."
Maisonneuve-Renaud was accustomed to following her own counsel. Born in L'Épiphanie, Que., a town of 4,000 people about 50 kilometres northeast of Montreal, she grew up in a family that took great pride in working in the skilled trades.
"My father was a pipefitter, my brother is an electrician, my other brother is a plumber and my uncle and grandfather are skilled tradesmen, as well," she said. "When I decided to apprentice as a plumber, they were all very supportive."
As Maisonneuve-Renaud soon discovered, Modern Niagara shares similar family values.
"Our core values are part of our DNA," said CEO Brad McAninch.
As a boy, McAninch himself grew up with those core values. His father was a major shareholder in the local Ottawa plumbing company that eventually became Modern Niagara.
"Our big break came when we were chosen to provide mechanical systems for the Ottawa Senators' new arena," said McAninch, who earned his engineering degree in 1997, just as the new facility opened.
As Modern Niagara expanded into Western Canada, it continued to work on major projects in Ottawa, from hospitals to the West Block of the Parliament Buildings. "Our thumbprint is all over this city," McAninch said.
After joining the company, Maisonneuve-Renaud spent six years on Modern Niagara job sites around Ottawa before she decided to follow another path in her career and transferred into the company's head office in nearby Kanata.
"I felt that I'd plateaued," she said. "I saw it as a chance to grow."
Working as an estimator, she now helps the company to calculate the costs of providing its services to construction projects.
After less than a year in her new position, Maisonneuve-Renaud said she's in no hurry to take the next steps in her career. But with access through Modern Niagara to training if she needs it, she wants to learn as much as she can about all aspects of the business.
"I will take any training I can," she said. "My grandfather said a [certification] ticket doesn't weigh anything, so take as much as you can carry."