Procore set out to find the companies, projects and individuals that stood out for their bold achievements in construction. Among the 27 outstanding finalists selected, nine were named winners of the 2023 Groundbreaker Awards. This article is the sixth in a nine-part series spotlighting each winner.
Since its founding in 2015, ETRO Construction has made it a priority to initiate positive change within the construction industry. From its beginning with only eight employees to its current workforce of over 100, ETRO stands as a pillar of effective workforce development.
The Driving Force Behind ETRO
The company’s growth is not just in numbers, but also in innovation and commitment to inclusivity. ETRO’s core values — authenticity, curiosity, progressiveness and love — resonate deeply within its company culture, with ‘love’ being the value that centers the company’s philosophy as a “people-first” organization. These values drive the numerous initiatives aimed at encouraging and assisting employees in their professional growth and attracting a diverse range of talent to the industry.
“People aren’t just looking for a paycheck anymore; they’re looking for an employer who will go above and beyond that,” says Dan Chyzowski, ETRO’s Vice President of Construction. “If you’re not providing an exceptional employee experience, it’s impossible to compete for talent in today’s market, and therefore, we’re constantly using our curiosity to try and find ways of being progressive in the way we approach our people.”
The ETRO Way and ETRO University
As ETRO expanded, the company needed a way to share the wisdom and experience its seasoned professionals accumulated over the years with the entire organization. The ETRO Way harnesses lean-value stream mapping, dissecting a project’s lifecycle from inception to completion and warranty. Based on what was found by doing this, ETRO created standard work processes for each step of the project lifecycle, which led to the optimization of its operations.
ETRO University emerged as the primary platform to share the principles of The ETRO Way with the broader organization. Every other week, sessions are held with subject matter experts to discuss important topics, such as approving subcontracts. Together, the ETRO Way and ETRO University provide a robust mentorship and training framework — meaning clients can rest assured that no matter the project, ETRO will always deliver consistent, high-quality work.
From celebrations to interactions on the company’s #etro_littlewins Slack channel, ETRO has cultivated an environment that values and recognizes its team’s efforts. In this spirit, the Whatever It Takes (WIT) Award was instituted to commend individuals or teams who go above and beyond in their responsibilities. Moreover, a quarterly Safety Champion is acknowledged for their dedication to maintaining a safe work environment. These recognitions along with the ETRO Way and ETRO University underscore the company’s commitment to creating a workplace that’s not just driven by targets, but also, by purpose.
The People Builder Program
Another testament to ETRO’s commitment to its employees is its People Builder Program. This initiative was designed to help employees grow both personally and professionally. Based on mentorship, the program pairs “coaches” — experienced professionals who act as mentors — with “players” — professionals who would like guidance in their careers. The pairs meet regularly to work towards each player’s goals.
The transformative journey has been made possible by ETRO’s vision to see beyond the immediate roles employees maintain. The company understands that with the right environment, mentorship, and training, individuals can surpass their current capacities and step into larger roles that might have once seemed out of reach.
This initiative paves the way for employees to rise through the ranks, ensuring that each member sees a clear trajectory toward fulfilling their career goals. In fact, five out of 11 of its current Superintendents started as Carpenters at ETRO. Brand + Communications Manager Dara Wone informed us that, additionally, “ETRO has been able to support team members who want to take a different direction in their careers. We have successfully helped team members make the transition from Marketing Coordinator to Project Coordinator, Laborer to Site Logistics Coordinator, and Project Manager to Procurement Manager.”
Championing Diversity in a Traditional Field
One of the greatest challenges ETRO actively addresses is the construction industry’s need for diversity. Recognizing the industry’s predominant male and white demographic, they emphasize hiring from under-represented groups such as the BIPOC community, new immigrants to Canada, and the indigenous or First Nations populace.
“The reality is, if we don’t have a diverse workforce, and we’re all like-minded, we’re not going to be successful as a company. It’s important to have different people’s experiences and perspectives,” says Chyzowski.
ETRO’s commitment to diversity and inclusion can be seen in its hiring practices, which ensure that during interviews, at least one person belonging to the female or BIPOC community is included for every open position. Today, 20% percent of ETRO’s workforce is made up of women.
Building a Better Future
These are only some of the many incredible initiatives that ETRO has implemented in order to create a company that thrives from the inside out. ETRO’s excellence in workforce development is not just about programs, policies or numbers, it’s a reflection of their foundational belief in the value of every individual and the power of a united, diverse and empowered team.
Chyzowski’s advice for empowering your team members? It begins with a conversation:
“Take the time as leaders to listen to your team. Talk to them about what gets them excited about work, what parts they don’t like doing, and what they’re interested in learning. There’s nothing more important than engaging with your team and making sure they feel heard and that their time is valuable.”