Penalta Group


Speaking with businesses and companies on a daily basis as we do here at The Canadian Business Journal, we have encountered time and again cases where companies—particularly in the construction industry—were forced to downsize in the wake of the not-so-distant economic downturn. Which is why Penalta Group of Oakville, Ontario caught our eye.  We wanted to investigate how this small to medium sized DesignBuild and ICI Builder fared so well during that time and have emerged as one of Canada’s leading “Developer’s Assistant”.

If the real estate mantra is “location, location, location”, then what Penalta Group proves is that in construction, the top three most important considerations are “diversification, diversification, diversification”.

“Our No.1 rule is not to specialize in any sector,” says Terry Wallace, President, “but every sector.”

This company services a diverse range of sectors, from hospitality and retail, to manufacturing and industrial. Penalta Group started out in 1999, when Welsh-born Wallace and his partner, Robert Ogden (also proudly Welsh), joined their respective and vast experience in construction management and business development. Wallace and Ogden focused their efforts on what they identified as a niche market in medium size construction contracting and consulting services.

In a very short time, even the giants of industry were seeking out Penalta Group for its fundamental approach to business: treat every client like they are your only client, be transparent, only promise on what you can guarantee and complete all projects on or before schedule. It may seem elementary, but a dedication as strong as Penalta’s to these principals is a rarity in any field.

If hotel project has a strict budget of $10 million, for instance,” explains Wallace. “By the time a client goes to tender the project could already over budget if the project is not carefully thought out. What Penalta Group does is help our clients from the beginning. We show our clients what they can build, the way to build it and what the cost will be before you have a shovel in the ground because of our experience.”

Not only diverse in the sectors it services, Penalta Group is also diverse in the regions it serves, taking their model across the country. In the design-build industry, Penalta Group has risen to the top, in part by being one of the only go-to groups in Canada to design and build no matter what your geographical location is.  The team is presently completing hotels in Brandon and Thompson, Manitoba while finalizing designs and budgets for hotels across Ontario and in Saskatchewan. While most construction firms stay local, few can say these days that their working on hospitality and retail projects in cities and towns across Canada.


“One of the benefits of being diverse is we weren’t pegged into a specific sector,” explains Wallace. “Having the ability to go nationwide has been our greatest asset. Because we were all over Canada, it helped protect us from a hurting Ontario market. The 2009 market saw a lot of builders lose a lot of staff while we did not. By having consultants on a more national level, we were able to get through that market.”

It is precisely this ability that resulted in Penalta Group working with many large retail chain stores and many of the High End retail brands in Malls right across the country. Numerous of these well known brands have come to Penalta Group to help them renovate and retrofit their stores as they go through their refreshing andor rebranding process. “Again, it is our ability to go Canada wide that has brought us success,” says Wallace. The team regularly steps up added services to its clients. Such as flying out to Vancouver, Calgary or Winnipeg to look at a project and then offer feedback, a budget, or discuss potential changes with a client. “We go the extra mile and our clients appreciate that about us. We really care about our clients, period. We manage those relationships in this company and we are a team that acts like owners,” elaborates Wallace, with an obvious pride in his voice.

Small to large scale

Penalta Group is currently not only engaged in many small retail projects in major shopping malls across the country, but also building from the ground up Big Box Stores for numerous developers as well. “Doing large scale projects for developers is something we do that well. We have built stores for large retail clients from the US and Canada. Doing just the shell or the interior fit out as well,” says Wallace.

Branding is an important part of a clients business especially in the hospitality sector, and Penalta Groups Design/Build division is very well known for building en par with whatever brand they are dealing with at the time.  They have experience working from 5 star/4 diamond properties, to midrange and extended stay properties, to limited service properties. “Low, mid to high end, we’ve done it all,” says Wallace. “Our expertise is our ability design and develop a project according to a clients wishes and desires while helping them stay on budget.”

Penalta Group proves true the adage of slow and steady win the race. By adhering to fundamental business practices and a never wavering focus on quality, the Penalta Group team is showing Canadian business how a small firm can garner the giant clients.