The regulatory environment governing the British Columbia construction industry has only grown more complex in recent years. Contractors have found they need not only a larger suite of testing capabilities, but a range of complementary engineering services as well. It’s a challenge that the newly rebranded Metro Testing + Engineering has been meeting since it was founded in 1987 by Harry Watson in Burnaby.
Early on, the diverse range of construction projects across the province required the company to add to its talent stack as it expanded geographically to Victoria, Courtenay, Surrey, Abbotsford, Squamish, Kamloops, Fort St. John, Terrace, Sechelt, and Salmon Arm and across provincial borders to Calgary and Edmonton.
As the company expanded to a full 15 locations, each office was individually named to reflect its unique service offerings for that region.
“However, the changing nature of construction for our clients saw each of those locations expanding its offerings, adding geotechnical engineering, concrete restoration, environmental consulting, environmental permitting and total quality management to the service mix,” says Robert Gilbert, president & CEO of Metro Testing + Engineering. “When we saw an increased demand for geotechnical engineering services, it was a natural evolution for us. We could now offer the testing and engineering services required to take a site all the way from its initial purchase, through to the finished project. It wasn’t simply that these services were required on a wider range of projects. The projects themselves were becoming more complex, and our clients were counting on us to provide that greater capability on the same projects.”
In recognition of that evolution, all of the individual offices were united under the banner of Canadian Construction Materials Engineering and Testing (CCMET) in 2014. In 2019, all 15 locations will be known as local offices of Metro Testing + Engineering.
But new provincial standards have inspired Metro Testing + Engineering to offer services that range beyond project completion. The BC Energy Step Code was enacted in April 2017. It’s a voluntary provincial standard that goes beyond the energy efficiency requirements of the BC Building Code, although individual jurisdictions can require builders to meet those requirements.
“In support of the Step Code, we’re now offering full building air tightness testing for completed buildings, a requirement that’s brand new to the industry,” says Gilbert. “It’s not simply a matter of buying the gigantic fans, monitoring devices and associated equipment, but upgrading the training of our teams of engineers so they can fully meet the needs of our clients under the Step Code. For a large commercial building, it’s also a labour-intensive process, so we had to hire a greater number of qualified people to handle that testing.”
Contaminated site regulations have also been updated recently, requiring an expanded scope of services that include soil vapour testing.
“We’ve also developed our capabilities to work remotely, from the Northwest Territories to the Alaska Highway and to concrete assessment at BC’s remotest lighthouses,” says Gilbert. “Our mobile testing laboratories provide an incredible array of services that were once only available in larger lab facilities.”
He notes that clients are often more inclined to engage a single company to handle multiple responsibilities because it simplifies matters from quoting to invoicing. However, it also simplifies scheduling. Instead of engaging a number of firms to provide services on individual schedules, Metro Testing +Engineering appropriately stages its own service offerings.
“The client doesn’t need to introduce us to the project as they would if they were hiring individual service providers,” says Gilbert. “We’re there from the beginning and we already know what makes that site and the project unique. We act as a central repository for all of the engineering records for the project. We can answer detailed questions about why something was done a certain way and how that situation was addressed.”
A current projects that’s benefiting from the company’s multi-disciplinary approach is the Highway 1/Mountain Highway construction project on behalf of Lafarge Canada.
“We’ve been involved in three basic areas over the last several years,” says Brian Gray director, pavement & infrastructure with Metro Testing + Engineering. “That includes concrete and cementitious products from concrete bridge structures to grouting and shotcrete. We’re testing granular fills from embankment fills to road sub-bases and bases, lab testing the fills for gradation and doing compaction testing in the field. We’re doing density testing for asphalt and lab tests of the material, to satisfy the requirements of the BC Ministry of Transportation and the District of North Vancouver. We’re also providing third-party administration of the company’s quality management plan under ISO 9001. As a one-stop shop, I’m the central contact for all of the services we provide to the client.”
After more than 30 years in the business, Metro Testing + Engineering has worked on projects ranging from the Cleveland Dam, to the 2010 Olympics and the new LNG Canada facility.
“I wouldn’t be shy to say that we have a greater breadth of experience than almost any company in this market, especially on the materials testing and engineering side,” says Gilbert. “Our promise is that we offer ‘experience applied.’ Each client receives the full benefit of 30 years of experience working in western Canada. As Metro Testing + Engineering, we continue to expand our capacity to serve clients, but never at the expense of caring about the quality we provide.”
This content is sponsored by Metro Testing + Engineering in collaboration with ConstructConnect™ Media. To learn more about Metro Testing + Engineering, visit www.metrotesting.ca or contact Marc Varty, Director Business Development & Marketing firstname.lastname@example.org.