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The WalterFedy Canstruction team was hard at work on April 22 at Conestoga Mall building our Olympic-themed creation from cans called, "Win Together, Luge Together." We are so happy to announce that the cans we chose led to WalterFedy being awarded the coveted Best Meal Award from the Food Bank judges!

 

A big thank you to the hard-working Canstruction team for their months of hard work and dedication to bringing this build to life. Another big thank you goes out to everyone at WalterFedy/AEC who supported us in our fundraising efforts over the last two months. We couldn't have done it without you!

 

If you love our build and want to support the team, you can donate to the Food Bank of Waterloo Region via our Donate to Vote page - every dollar we raise on this page goes toward us winning the People's Choice Award AND stamping out hunger in the Waterloo Region. Pretty good bang for your buck!

 


 


  
 

 

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And just like that, after seven fantastic weeks, our 70+ Acts of Good campaign has come to an end. When we set out to celebrate WalterFedy’s 70th Anniversary, we knew we had to do something that would include and benefit the community around us.

 

In the final three weeks, we covered a lot of ground, including purchasing 70 trees through the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) to be planted in the Waterloo Region via their Give Grand program. This isn’t the first time we’ve teamed up with the GRCA and we hope to work with them again to help plant some of those trees!

 

After a successful run at Community Fridge KW, we connected with  Community Fridges Hamilton to fill up the Beasley Fridge in Downtown Hamilton for three days. Like their Kitchener counterpart, Community Fridges Hamilton provides 24/7 low-barrier access to free food provided entirely by the community. We were happy to play a small part in filling their fridges for a week and look forward to supporting them again in the future.

 

We also purchased seven essential items from YWCA's wish list for their affordable and supportive housing project on Block Line. We’ve been providing project management services to this project and were happy to give back and help support this project that is so important to the Waterloo Region.

We wrapped up the campaign by delivering 401lbs of food and $915 to the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. That translates to 3,060 meals to help feed our hungry neighbours. In Hamilton, our team rallied to provide an assortment of festive gifts that will be distributed to people in need this holiday season through the Good Shepherd. 

 

We’re sad that the campaign is over, but after a long 2021, this was the perfect way to end the year. We might be 70, but we’re feeling spritely heading into 2022 . We look forward to finding new and exciting ways to live out our core value of community building! 

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We’re halfway through our 70 Acts of Good to celebrate our 70th Anniversary and we want to tell you what we’ve been up to! We shared our full plan in a blog at the end of October and we are very excited about what we have accomplished so far.

 

We started by kicking off a six-week food drive in our Kitchener office for the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. We’ve been closely connected to the organization for many years through food drives and our yearly Canstruction builds, so including the Food Bank in this initiative was an easy decision. We’ve already smashed our goal of 70lbs of food and we keep adding more to our collection! We also launched a food and gift drive in support of Good Shepherd in Hamilton. We’ve supported Good Shepherd initiatives since we first arrived in Hamilton in 2015.

 

With a change of seasons on the horizon, we turned our attention to those most impacted by the cooler temperatures and donated the monetary equivalent of 70 pairs of socks to ToastyToes Waterloo Region. This annual program helps local shelters support our most vulnerable residents with clear, warm socks – the most requested item by people accessing their services.

 

We teamed up with Community Fridge KW to fill their community fridge for four days earlier in October and it was our first time being involved with this grass-roots organization. They are directly supporting those in need in our community and their new location outside of the Kitchener Market now has a pantry set up to go along with the fridge. If you’re at the Kitchener Market, please consider buying a little extra and adding it to the fridge.

 

Every Wednesday on our Instagram account we are hosting raffles to support local small businesses in Kitchener and Hamilton. Winners from KW win Downtown Kitchener BIA Downtown Dollars and winners from Hamilton chose businesses through the Hamilton Hometown Hub and have picked Bread Bar, Blooms Fresh, Merit Brewing and Hambrgr so far.

 

Last week we hosted a week-long contest for community members to nominate frontline workers to win a free lunch on us. We sent lunch to seven people who’ve worked throughout the pandemic to keep us safe and much-needed services open. Thank you to all the winners!

 

This week we made donations of cat food to both The Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo and Stratford Perth and the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA. We hope there are some very happy kitties today!

 

We have three more weeks in our 70 Acts of Good campaign and we can’t wait to share what else we have been working on!

 

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There is a lot more to creek design than meets the eye. When our Water Resources team was tasked with taking a Cambridge stormwater pond offline to make way for a more diverse creek ecosystem, we knew there would be a lot of challenges. Add in the removal of a 400m stretch of road and you’ve got the makings of a really complex water resources project.

 

The on-line pond had been used for decades to capture runoff from the adjacent agricultural land but had also been recommended for removal for over 20 years. When the Hunt Club Valley Estates subdivision broke ground on the old farmland around the pond, our team worked with GSP Group to devise a plan to take the pond offline and create a more cohesive environment for the wildlife in the area and to restore the coldwater characteristics of the creek which had been negatively impacted by the existing pond. We worked closely with the Grand River Conservation Authority to ensure our plan allocated enough land for enhancements, restoration, and floodplain.

 

Removing the pond meant this existing fish habitat was lost so our Water Resources team restored a wetland area in another portion of the site to ensure an equivalent habitat was reintroduced. A 400m stretch of Briardean Road bisected the wetland and, to restore the wetland into a single contiguous feature, the portion of Briardean Road through the wetland was removed. “Proposing the removal of a section of road isn’t something we regularly do, but in this case, it was what was best for the wetland,” says Brian Verspagen, leader of our Water Resources team. “Excavating out the road made it possible for us to turn the whole area back into a unified wetland habitat and reconnect Middle Creek so it could stay connected with the Speed River.”

 

With the road out of the way and the two sides of the wetland reconnected, the next major component of the project was the restoration of Middle Creek through the former farm pond. “We had to design a path for the creek to get from one end to the other without the pond in the middle, while also navigating a 1.5-metre change in elevation,” says Brian. “Instead of doing a 1.5-metre drop in one spot with a waterfall, which would make it impossible for fish to migrate up the creek, our team introduced a series of meanders [bends] with pools and riffles changing the grade of the creek just 6 inches at a time.” By studying the types of fish that would commonly live in this creek, the team knew the fish would have a spurt speed that could handle a 6-inch incline over a 2-metre distance if they had adequate rest time in a pool afterward.

The pool and riffle sequence also had an additional design advantage. “Middle Creek is a cold-water creek, which is quite rare for the area, so keeping the temperature of the creek down was important,” says Brian. “Running in and out of the shallow pond had been warming up the creek water, making it difficult for aquatic life to thrive. Each riffle section oxygenates the water, causing evaporation. The energy the water uses to change state from a fluid to a vapour cools it.” This means even if the water warms up in the pool sections, it can cool up to half a degree when it passes over a riffle, rebalancing the water temperature.

 

Within the pools, the team introduced areas that would enable the fish to breed and safely create nests for their eggs and fry. These spaces included fallen trees and root wads that would protect the fish from predators like raccoons, while also shading them from the sun. Overflow ponds were also introduced, creating the perfect habitat for the many frogs that live in the area.

 

This project has revitalized an underused ecosystem and breathed new aquatic life into the area for the whole neighbourhood to enjoy.

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Engineering has always been about choices for Rushin Khakharia. Growing up in Tanzania, Rushin was surrounded by a family of medical professionals, but he knew early on that wasn’t the occupation for him. Rushin broke the family mould by declaring he wanted to be an engineer, and from then on, it was just a matter of choosing how to achieve his goal. While completing an International Baccalaureate diploma program in India, he set his sights on pursuing post-secondary education even further from his home in Tanzania and applied to universities around the globe.

 

“I hadn’t decided on the type of engineering I wanted to do prior to applying to university, so I applied to and received acceptances for a few different programs in a few different countries,” says Rushin. The choices were plentiful. Rushin’s strength in academics earned him offers from prestigious institutions like University College in London. When it came time to make a decision, he chose Civil Engineering at the University of Waterloo. “I was leaving everything behind in Tanzania and Canada seemed like the country that would be the best for me during and after university,” he says.

 

While at UW, Rushin intended on completing his co-op terms at six different companies to test out as many industries as he could. On his fourth co-op term, he came to WalterFedy. “I enjoyed the consulting side of the business and that made me want to come back for a second placement because I knew I wasn’t done learning,” he says. “During my second placement at WalterFedy, I was part of a large Public-Private Partnership (P3) project team for the redevelopment at Joseph Brant Hospital. The opportunity to continue working on that project is what made me choose to come back a third time. I was given real responsibility and gained valuable experience during my co-op terms which made my choice to return to WalterFedy an easy one.”

 

Rushin cuts his cake celebrating permanent residency

When he graduated and was offered a full-time job with WalterFedy, Rushin was ecstatic. “WalterFedy was exactly what I was hoping I’d find in a workplace when I decided to come to Canada,” he says. “I didn’t have family in Kitchener-Waterloo and the people at WalterFedy have become my family. I have an incredibly supportive leader in Shelley Forwell and she made me feel like an important part of the team from day one.” Rushin has since become a permanent resident and we celebrated his great news with a cake at Town Hall in 2017.

 

Hiring Rushin right after graduation was a great opportunity for WalterFedy too. While he loves civil engineering, he is also drawn to software engineering. He has combined his passion and skill in both on multiple occasions for the betterment of the firm. “I created a company resource planning program that we use to help project managers plan out projects and balance their short- and long-term resource needs,” Rushin explains. “We also use it to keep staff on top of project priorities, track milestones, and schedule QAs.”

 

What’s next for Rushin? He was recently named a Senior Associate of the firm and has zoned-in on site development as his favourite niche. His specialty is working on technically complex projects; whether the challenge is due to scale or the specific constraints of the development. While he’s lent his expertise to massive projects for General Motors, Maple Leaf Foods, and the University of Waterloo, the sky is the limit for Rushin. “A large-scale project I would love to work on is an airport because it would be incredibly challenging due to the sheer size and the technical planning that has to happen to make it all come together. It’s a sort of magic,” says Rushin. He has some lofty personal goals for his future as well. “I have worked at WalterFedy for six years and I see a real future for myself here. Now that I’m a Senior Associate, the next step is becoming a Partner.”

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When WalterFedy’s new CEO, Garth Cressman, started his career at WalterFedy as a 24-year-old Engineer-in-Training, he would never have predicted he’d be named the CEO before his 40th birthday. As with any good coming-of-age story, this one started with him running away from home.

 

After three years with WalterFedy, Garth left the firm in 2007 to take a crack at the construction business. For the next seven years, he soaked up all the knowledge he could at a local construction company. He worked his way up the corporate ladder from a project manager to the Vice President of Operations, and then an owner. His quest for knowledge never ceased and he used every opportunity to learn more about the industry and running a business.

 

 

While he was away, Garth continued to keep his eye on WalterFedy (even working with our firm on a few projects) and always had a feeling he hadn’t finished his story here. In 2014, when the opportunity to start a new energy management business unit came up, Garth jumped at the chance to return. He had just completed his MBA and was eager to try his hand at a little entrepreneurship.

 

“In those early days, there were only three of us, but we were hungry,” he reminisces. “We would meet new clients, identify their needs, and if it fell outside of our scope we would get together and figure out how to deliver them. We worked hard, made mistakes, pivoted our direction when needed, and in the end, we created a successful new business offering for WalterFedy.”

 

Two years after starting the energy management group, Garth was presented with his next challenge: leading the entire Engineering Services (ES) group at WalterFedy. This was a tall order, but he was ready to dig in. “We had created a profitable group from the ground up and when I was offered the leadership role for ES, I knew it was the right time for me to take on something bigger,” he says. “The entire experience with energy management gave me valuable insight into how to build and lead a successful team and I was able to bring those skills forward into my new position.”

 

Once he took the reigns of the ES department, Garth focused his team on expanding relationships with current clients and building new ones with potential clients. “Good client relationships are the foundation of successful businesses, and I wanted to make sure we had enough blocks beneath us to continue our upward momentum,” he says. Under his leadership, the ES group set out to expand their business by 85% in five years by gaining new business. It was an aggressive target, but by putting the right people in the right positions and empowering his staff to be exploratory and take calculated risks, they achieved their growth targets in just three short years. “Accomplishing that goal two years before planned is one of my biggest career achievements as a leader,” he states.

 

The Garth of today is just as ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work. In his new position as CEO, Garth has a clear vision of the firm’s future, and the sky is the limit. “My job is to lead a talented group of professionals toward an exciting new vision for this firm,” he says. “I want to help WalterFedy and AEC [our sister company] realize our full potential. We are at our best when we work collaboratively across disciplines and I want us to focus more on that. This is a great company and I am invested in making sure we achieve everything we’re capable of and more.”

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While we couldn’t all be together this year, that didn’t stop WalterFedy and AEC from celebrating Employee Appreciation Week! To kickstart the celebrations, staff received boxes with a few symbolic gifts that aligned with our company’s new vision and direction. The boxes contained a notebook branded with our new Action Statement, a handwritten thank you card from their leader, a pair of bold custom branded socks, snacks to fuel their big ideas, and one intangible, big-picture item.

 

Every year around this time, we usually offer up a selection of branded company wearables for staff. This year, however, we decided to look beyond our four walls and choose a gift with greater impact. In line with our new aspiration to use our work to enhance the world around us, we purchased enough carbon offsets to counter our 2019 GHG emissions of 371 tonnes eCO2. This amount includes all our staff’s commuting and work travel, as well as keeping our lights on and building heated. Our contribution will fund two projects in the province focused on maintaining the function and diversity of ecosystems along the Niagara escarpment and re-establishing forest species.

 

But that wasn’t all we had in store. We couldn’t have an Employee Appreciation Week without prizes! We had a long list of prizes for our daily winners to choose from including fitness trackers, local brewery packages, cordless headphones, and so much more!

 

To close out the week, we hosted a big COVID-friendly event that got us all out of the or house to enjoy some time together. On October 8, the company organized a trip to Bingemans drive-in to see Yesterday. Complete with all the best movie snacks, employees watched the movie from the comfort of their cars and safely within their own bubbles.

 

It’s a challenging time to celebrate our teams, but we’ve adapted to make sure our people know we value their contributions and resilience in what has been a most unusual year. Thank you to all our employees for everything you do day in and day out.

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When you look back, are there moments you can pinpoint that define who and where you are today? For some people that answer might be a bit foggy, but for WalterFedy Electrical Engineer Nick Angeloff, there are two that are crystal clear. The first one led him to electrical engineering and the second one led him to his wife.

 

First, let’s rewind to Grade 10 physics. 15-year-old Nick is learning about simple circuits for the first time, connecting battery packs and wires with banana clips to try to turn on a light bulb. Something sparked inside of him. He needed to learn more. “I wanted to know everything about how lights worked, which led me down a rabbit hole on a quest for more and more information,” says Nick. He emerged with a career in mind: he was going to be an electrical engineer.

 

Fast forward to Nick’s first week as a University of Waterloo (UW) engineering student, when he is approached by cheerleaders asking for help to move tents. He and his friends obliged but soon realized they weren’t there to lift tents – they were there to lift people. After trying a few basket tosses and lifts, the cheerleaders convinced him to try out for the team, and for the next three years, he cheered for UW. In fourth year, some UW cheerleading alumni were putting together an adult team at the Sharks in Cambridge and Nick decided to join. As fate would have it, a peppy Western University cheerleading alumna named Taryn joined the Sharks the same year. The two hit it off immediately and have been together ever since.

 

Nick and Taryn moved to Toronto for a few years, but when they wanted to put down roots, they looked back to the tri-cities and Nick set his eyes on WalterFedy. “I had a co-op placement at WalterFedy in 2011 and knew the work the company was doing was what I wanted, so I actively sought out a position at the firm,” explains Nick. Since rejoining the team in 2016, Nick has carved his own niche and progressed from an Engineer-in-Training to a People Leader in just four years. His drive and expertise have placed him on some high-profile projects, including the Conestoga College North Campus expansion.

 

The Conestoga College expansion project had everything Nick enjoys most about electrical engineering but on a much bigger scale than he had ever worked on before. He knew this wasn’t the type of project that comes around too often and he didn’t waste the opportunity. “For me, the Conestoga College project was career-defining,” shares Nick. “I went from assisting with design to taking the reigns early on, and I stayed with the project through to construction. This project taught me how to lead, delegate and execute a multi-disciplinary project from beginning to end.”

 

When Nick describes his work, you can tell he’s passionate about what he does. “When I start any project, I want to design the most robust, reliable, and safe electrical system I can,” he says. “I want to ensure the system will operate and continue to operate in every situation.” To him, the best electrical systems are the ones where he doesn’t have any questions about what he’s put on the paper. “Good design comes from knowing how to start and where you want to end up,” he explains. “When I stamp a design, I want to have zero questions about what I’ve put on the paper and know I’ve done what I need to do to deliver the highest quality product to the client.”

 

While Nick is retired from the sport of cheer, the principles remain in a different way. “Cheer gave me a sense of structure and comradery that I apply to my work as an electrical engineer,” Nick says. “As electrical engineers, we are part of a larger team that includes architects, other engineering disciplines, and construction professionals, and we have to work together for the client’s project to be successful. Now, instead of working with my team on the mat, I’m in a meeting room.” But that doesn’t mean he’s left behind the skillset. “When someone accidentally throws a frisbee on the roof at the cottage, they always know I’ll throw Taryn up on my shoulders so she can grab it,” he jokes.

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With 10 years of recruiting experience for national organizations, WalterFedy Human Resources Generalist, Esther Kong, is no stranger to virtual interviews. We sat down with Esther to discuss her top five tips for job applicants who might be nervous about upcoming virtual interviews.

 

Set up the tech

Getting familiar with the technology the company uses to host virtual interviews is a must. Whether you’ve never used it, or you are familiar with the tool, make sure you are comfortable with the platform, especially if you need to troubleshoot mid-interview. Before you begin, check your mic and your camera to make sure everything is in good working order. “If you’re not sure what platform the company uses, don’t be afraid to ask. The initiative is always appreciated,” says Esther. “We use Teams at WalterFedy, so if you don’t have an account, download Teams in advance or explore it via browser.”

 

Set the scene

Now that you’re familiar with the technology, use it to help you set your scene. Turn on your camera and start looking for a quiet place with good lighting and a neutral background. It may be in your home office, or it may not. If you have a laptop and can move around to find the best spot, do it! If you are bound to one area with a desktop, take stock of your surroundings. “Clear away any clutter in the camera’s view so the only thing for the interviewer to focus on is you,” says Esther.

 

Set up a dry run

If you’re nervous about being on camera, ask a friend to mock interview with you. “A friend can give you honest feedback on your technique and tips on how to behave on camera,” says Esther. “They can also let you know if your space and lighting are working.” Work on your eye contact during your dry run as well by practicing looking directly at the camera instead of the screen. “It may seem counterintuitive not looking at who you’re speaking to, but on the other side the interviewers see you looking into their eyes,” explains Esther.

 

Set yourself up for success

If you have a portfolio you’d like to share, send it well in advance so everyone can take a look. On the day of your interview, set yourself up early. Have a copy of the job description, your resume, and your questions ready so everything is at your fingertips when you sit down. Esther says prep in this area is key for a smooth interview. “Make notes on how your experience relates directly to the job requirements so you can get your point across succinctly when asked,” she says. “If you sent it in advance, also have your portfolio open so you can walk us through it to show off your skills.” She also suggests you speak slower and enunciate your words more than usual. “It might feel funny, but it makes a huge difference in the interviewer’s ability to understand everything you say,” Esther explains.

 

Set yourself apart

The interviewer’s job is to determine whether you have the skills and if you’ll be a good fit for the organization; just because you aren’t meeting in person, doesn’t mean you can’t show off your personality. When the interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself, include some personal pieces along with work experience to give a well-rounded image of who you are. Be expressive when you talk, but avoid over-exaggerating. Corporate ‘fit’ is an important part of any hire, so this will help the hiring manager get a good sense of who you are and how you fit in the bigger picture.

 

If you feel weird about the virtual interview process, don’t worry – it’s likely your interviewer does too. “We’re all learning to adapt to this process at the same time,” says Esther. “Go easy on yourself.”

 

If you’re interested in joining the WalterFedy team, we’re looking to fill a number of positions like Payroll Administrator and Team Leader, Asset & Facilities Management. Visit www.walterfedy.com/careers for all our open opportunities.

 

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Adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy, but no industry has been impacted quite like healthcare. In preparation for the impending influx of COVID-19 patients, two of our clients are acting swiftly and with intent.

 

On Friday afternoon, long-time partner Brant Community Healthcare System contacted Architect Bob Currie for help creating seven negative pressure resuscitation rooms at Brantford General Hospital (BGH). 

 

The following morning, Bob rallied our leading healthcare engineers, Clay Cope and Dave Thompson, to brainstorm ideas to transform the available spaces. The team met at BGH at 4 p.m. to review the rooms and assess if their ideas would work. By noon the next day, WalterFedy had a complete concept sketch with a full description of the design, allowing the hospital’s contractor to build a mock-up room for testing. At 6 p.m. Sunday, the contractor finalized the mock-up room, and testing showed it functioned as intended. With the support of hospital officials and tradespeople, construction on all seven rooms was completed over the five days that followed, and all were ready for clinical use by Friday.

 

Our municipal partners are also exploring ways to ease the strain of COVID-19 on resources. For one client, we are helping determine whether one of their buildings can be temporarily repurposed. We are evaluating the emergency power distribution system at a facility to explore the possibility of using it as an 'emergency shelter’ if the need arises. Our electrical team is currently reviewing what loads are connected to their emergency power system and verifying that the generator is suitably sized for their requirements. 

 

These are remarkable examples of what we can accomplish when we work together during times of crisis. Our teams are actively collaborating with several other healthcare and municipal partners on projects to ensure our communities are better equipped for what is to come.

 

Projects like these are being prioritized within our workload because of their community importance. If your organization has a COVID-19 related need that we can help with, please contact us via  solutions@walterfedy.com and we will connect you with the right person internally. We want to do our part to help those on the frontlines and flatten the curve.

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