With a team of over 250 of the industry’s most skilled trades people, it is safe to say that Roberts Onsite is no small business. Generation after generation, family after family; the company has continued growing throughout its 85 years of business to become one of Ontario’s largest multi-trade contractors providing turn-key solutions for industrial, commercial, institutional and energy projects.
Unlike the majority of large companies, the overall culture at Roberts Onsite is less of a corporate environment and more of a family occasion. The quality and pride its employees possess is a trait that stands out to the team at Roberts Onsite, especially to Vice President, Wayne Barnard. With this in mind, it is no surprise to learn that work culture is of the utmost importance to Barnard, and he believes the family style team atmosphere that has been carefully cultivated at the company is reflected in its product. This could be because a lot of the team are actually family; in one form or another.
The longevity of Roberts Onsite can be witnessed through not only its years in business, but in the multi-generational families within the group. Often, trades can be passed down through generations, with one family member learning from the previous. Through its focus on its employees and reputation, Robert’s Onsite has managed to capture this family quality and keep it in house, with current employees following in both their fathers and grandfathers’ legacy.
Today Roberts Onsite offers a variety of services in seven areas of operation: electrical, mechanical, millwrighting and rigging, communications, automation controls and engineering, utilities & traffic controls, and predictive maintenance. With such a variety of skills available, the company is essentially a one stop shop for construction, with the ability to lower overall costs for clients.
While its catalogue of work is extensive, there are a number of projects that standout to Barnard; one of which is currently ongoing. The company is currently doing the electrical for a base building, which will become a battery assembly plant for General Motors in Ingersoll. “That’s a new 327,000 square foot plant that’s going to manufacture batteries for the new GM BrightDrop EV600 vehicle. It’s going to be the first battery plant that will be operational in Canada so we’re pretty excited about that. And there is another standout project we just finished about a year ago. It was called the B2 Project-Phase 3, and basically, we helped build the process equipment for a 430,000 square foot new facility in Brampton, Ontario.” For Barnard, it epitomized the connected thinking and operational skills the company possesses. “It became special to us because all aspects of our group — electrical, mechanical, millwrighting and rigging — were able to come together with a client who came from Europe many years ago. They decided to basically tear down the old part of the plant and build a brand-new state of the art, shingle manufacturing business, which they designed most of the equipment themselves.”
Throughout all its projects, Roberts Onsite has a strict adherence to safety protocols and the safety of its employees is at the forefront of everything it does. Its multi-trade crews achieved a perfect score in 2020 with a Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) of 0.00. Roberts Onsite has also been IHSA COR™ certified since 2017. The Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) is Ontario’s trusted health and safety resource, with a goal of improving the lives of workers and reducing all safety hazards.
“The longevity of Roberts Onsite can be witnessed through not only its years in business, but in the multi-generational families within the group.”
Although Roberts Onsite cares immensely about the safety of its employees, the company also equally cares about creating a space for its employees to enjoy their work. As part of its 85th year in business celebrations, the company celebrated two-fold this year and decided to create events for the employees to celebrate. The company usually holds its Christmas gathering in February of the following year, due to its busy period during the Christmas shutdown to summer shutdown. However, this year it held an 85th anniversary winter gala, which included an eighteen-piece live band. To continue the events, the company also had a barbecue during the summer to help raise money for the local fire department, which was another way for employees to come together outside of their busy work lives and relish in that family culture.
Several times throughout the interview Barnard referenced the employees of Roberts Onsite and their importance to the company. Building relationships and creating friendships is a side of the business that ultimately keeps work flowing, and this goes beyond the skilled trade workers. The talented and experienced trade workers at Roberts Onsite are considered by their employer to be the best in the industry, but there is an equally talented and professional team of project managers, estimators and administrative staff that help keep the gears of the company turning. “At the end of the day, our employees are the face of the company. They’re the ones in front of the clients most times. It’s those relationships and bonds with certain clients that allow us to continue to come back and do other work in the future. A perfect example of that is Loblaws, a local grocer. We’ve been doing work there ever since they started. And we’ve got pictures of some of our old trucks back in 1938, changing light bulbs in their parking lot, and we’re still there today doing that.”
With such an extensive history engrained in Roberts Onsite, it is important to continue this by creating a future for the company to thrive. In order to propel itself into the future, Roberts Onsite plan to keep growing and diversifying across different markets, both existing and new. It does not stop there, however. The company also plans to expand into other areas outside of its everyday business. Currently, Roberts Onsite is largely involved in the Industrial Marketplace, with an emphasis on automotive. However, it would like to venture further into the food and beverage side of the construction industry in order to continue its growth.
As the company continues to grow, generations of families will grow alongside it and possibly within it. Whether a person is already part of a multi-generational family that works for Robert Onsite, or is looking to create a family legacy of their own within the company, the family values instilled within the company provide a footing into the future for work that is valued and appreciated.
If you missed out on previous generations, it is never too late to become part of the family at Roberts Onsite and create a multi-generational family of your own.