Bermingham Foundation Solutions

A Canadian legacy

“We are a company of adventurers,” says Patrick Bermingham, CEO of Bermingham Foundation Solutions, one of Canada’s oldest and most interesting foundation contractors.

The founder, William Bermingham, Patrick’s great grandfather, was an adventurer and a pioneer. It was he who secured the contract from Canadian Pacific Railway for railway bedding at Crow’s Nest Pass at the border of British Columbia and Alberta in 1897. Bermingham’s pioneer spirit fit perfectly with the forging railways, the pass being built primarily to access the wealth of minerals in south east B.C. and to assert Canadian sovereignty in that region.

The company, now based in Hamilton, Ontario, has built on the founding legacy to become a leader in the manufacture of diesel pile driving hammers, reverse-circulation drills, leads and a wide variety of custom foundation equipment and one of the country’s oldest foundation contractors.
Bermingham is unique in the foundation equipment manufacturing world for also providing contractor services, including trying new equipment and procedures, field testing modifications and seeking improvements in its construction division on every project.

Infrastructure influence

For those not involved in the construction sector, Bermingham might not be a familiar name, but chances are most Canadians have been the benefactor of its extensive expertise. “We’re involved in constructing the foundations of infrastructure and we’ve been doing that for a long time,” says Bermingham. “We are foundation specialists, so we built the first stage of any type of infrastructure project, being a road, a bridge, a hospital, an airport, a water treatment plant, a school, a port, etc., any kind of infrastructure in which we built the foundation that the infrastructure is then built on.”

Certainly, millions of Canadians use Ontario’s GO Transit system and Metrolinx. Bermingham was assigned the exciting and high profile task of upgrading the infrastructure of both in a classic case of upgrading Canadian infrastructure where two major rail lines cross at the level and create a suppressed rail corridor.

“The passengers on GO will travel underneath the freight passengers on the CN line,” explains Bermingham. “In the past, we constructed the foundations for Highway 407 and we are hoping to do more on the next phase of it as well. We did 90 per cent of the foundations for the people mover at the GTA Airport. We’re also excited about some upcoming projects, like the crossing into Buffalo over the Niagara River, and also the new bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario to the United States.” The bi-national crossing will continue in the company’s history of expanding Canada’s trade routes.

Perpetual innovation

Bermingham’s present and future projects are driven by the energy and mining, transportation, public infrastructure (federal and civil) and commercial development sectors. The company is collectively proud of the international work it is doing on the reconstruction of the levies in New Orleans which will provide the necessary storm search barrier. For a company with such a distinguished history, Bermingham is resolute in never resting on its laurels. “Often, we are the first people to adapt to a new technology or to create a technology and then introduce it into the marketplace,” says Bermingham. “We bring in technologies from Europe, Japan and the United States. Of our created technologies, our underwater hammer, called a pyrodriver, was designed and developed to work three kilometres below the surface of the ocean for deepwater oil projects.”

In fact, Bermingham had a number of calls during the BP spill because the company is one of the few companies in the world with tools that can work at such a depth. The company’s competitive advantage comes from its integrated manufacturing constructing divisions into one cohesive hold so “it can undertake a project that requires custom fabrication or equipment, doing that in a very short time frame”.

“Our business has grown continuously for about 100 years, and the last seven years in particular have been better than the past. The year before was our best year to date, as was the year before that, as is our current year,” says Bermingham. “We are fine tuning our business plan to grow the company to revenues in excess of $100 million. We’re also looking to acquire companies in the United States that have a strategic advantage to us in broadening our product offering. We’re also looking to grow our domestic capabilities in the construction market.”

Canadian excellence

Bermingham believes what is important for Canadian businesspeople to realize is that there is a big place for us in the world, in particular in construction, mining and transportation. Canadians have an excellent reputation and can compete at the world level. In fact, the company encourages others to look beyond its own backyard and see the potential of the world market.

“We are a company of adventurers,” Bermingham reiterates of the key to his success. “We’re looking for people who are brave and adventurous in trying to do new things in the construction world. We want to work with them to bolster their vision and help them realize their dreams, while not doing things the same old way. As well as being new and innovative, the contrast way is valuing long-term relationships. We have many employees who have worked for the company for 25 to 50 years. We have established long-term, meaningful relationships with our suppliers and our clients, while we maintain and enjoy those relationships. We leverage those relationships to achieve our goals.”