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EllisDon launches new tech brand, Building Digital

Don Wall
EllisDon launches new tech brand, Building Digital

Ontario-based EllisDon has announced it has launched a new sub-brand, Building Digital, that will offer technology consulting services and products to the construction sector.

The kickoff was April 25.

Daniel Meissner, EllisDon’s director of growth and strategic partnerships for digital and data engineering, said Building Digital will start by offering clients services in four areas: software selection, data infrastructure and AI, cybersecurity, and BIM and reality capture. 

“We are builders at heart,” said Meissner. “There is this need for digital transformation within the industry. So it’s very obvious, this is a very easy way to marry the two things. We are still leaders in construction, and we are also leaders in tech and we think we can lead the way.”

The new Building Digital team will be stepping out from EllisDon’s in-house Digital and Data Engineering Division.

“When I tell people we’ve got 250 people, their eyes open up in amazement,” said Meissner. “We’ve got everything from people that do DevOpps, software, back-end programming…analytics, management and deployment.

“We have the knowledge that we’ve accrued for 20 years and that’s what we want to take externally, in a sense both share the wealth and make the best out of this interesting moment.”


Rising tide of tech expertise

The enterprise is not only an opportunity to expand the firm’s business base but it’s also a chance to lift the industry through a rising tide of tech expertise, and also help its business partners work smarter.

“A client of ours said they didn’t have a data lake, they had a data swamp,” said Meissner. “How do you go in and help someone within the construction industry clean up that data swamp and create a data lake so you can go and achieve that new shiny ball that is AI.”

Meissner said former EllisDon CEO Geoff Smith often said, “We need to become a fully digital company or the tech companies are going to eat our lunch.”

Smith retained responsibility for the company’s digital and data strategy when he handed over the top job to Kieran Hawe in April of 2023 and was very much involved in the launch of Building Digital, Meissner said.

“Selecting the right tool for the job is complex on its own, and there’s a lot out there,” he said. “So how do you navigate that landscape? We had to navigate it for a while. We know we can help people do it themselves.”


Butt of the joke

Meissner said the construction sector has long been the butt of the joke in discussions of the digital transformation, behind only agriculture in tech adoption, but that has changed.

The tech sector has migrated into construction tech and it’s become a “cluttered space,” he said.

“People have noticed that construction is a great place to do business and technology,” said Meissner. “We do need a lot of help. There’s a lot of efficiencies to be found.

“It has become a place where everyone wants to show their tech.”

But EllisDon has the advantage over the tech firms, he said, in that the company has intimate knowledge of the sector and has developed its own solutions.

“We are different because we come from within a general contractor,” said Meissner. “That’s our competitive advantage in many ways.”

Meissner said he is confident EllisDon the builder will not be placed at a disadvantage when its competitors start to benefit from consultations with Building Digital.

“Tech is another tool in your toolbelt,” he said. “You still have to go out and use the tools and I think this is only going to make our toolbelt better.

“EllisDon will keep rising above, as we always have been, because of what’s driven us there before. It’s our people. It’s our knowledge and how we build. It’s our relationship with our clients. And it’s the way we handle our projects and how we look at construction.”

Follow the author on X/Twitter @DonWall_DCN.

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