The economic crash of the late 2000s shook many industries in Ontario. Several businesses, devastated by the downfall, downsized their operations. Some disappeared entirely. Oakville-based construction management company Penalta, however, fought against the trend and thrived.
Founded in 1997 by Welsh entrepreneurs Terry Wallace and Robert Ogden, Penalta is first and foremost a building company. Although its operations are small-to-medium in size, the company works with some of Canada’s largest development firms.
CBJ first discovered Penalta Group in November 2010. We noticed the unexpected success the company was experiencing despite the widespread struggles within the Ontario construction sector. The CBJ research team set out to discover what made Penalta different.
We called Terry Wallace, President of Penalta Group, in order to learn the secret to the business’s growth. He told us, “The number one rule is not to specialize in any sector, but every sector.”
Further investigation revealed just how diverse Penalta’s approach truly was. The company offers construction and developer assistance in sectors spanning from commercial to industrial, and keeps an open mind when approaching new projects.
Most builders operate almost exclusively within their local region; very few are willing to work province-wide. Penalta undertakes projects across Canada, and aims to continue expanding nationally. The company works alongside several industry-leading developers on several large-scale projects. In recent years, the focus has increasingly turned towards the construction of big box retailers such as Wal-Mart, Winners, and Old Navy.
In 2012, Penalta again appeared on CBJ’s radar. The company had not only remained steady during a difficult time in the construction industry, but had expanded. Penalta continued to grow, succeeding at the most unexpected time in the field.
In a May 2012 CBJ interview, Wallace noted, “People are starting to recognize our brand and we’re not going anywhere. We’re not fly by night. We’re in this for the long run.”
Now, in the spring of 2014, Penalta again proves itself as a company worthy of attention. With dozens of successful projects under its belt and a growing number more every day, Penalta is proving to be one of the most persistently successful businesses CBJ has ever witnessed.
Penalta’s key to success is, and always has been, diversification. This core value is present in each of the company’s endeavors – be it geographic, building type, or technology-based.
Penalta works alongside clients to turn their vision into a reality. The company’s qualified staff offer advice and guidance to bring projects to completion. Their wealth of resources and past experience gives the company the tools to work quickly and efficiently. Penalta specializes in retail construction, hotel and hospitality construction, and office base building and interior fit-outs.
Many of the company’s projects are LEED certified. The LEED certification recognizes the best environmental and sustainability initiatives enacted by construction-industry companies. Penalta first gained their LEED certification after completing a geothermal storage facility in Stouffville, Ontario. The firm has since taken on several other projects, and expects to continually improve their environmental efforts in the future.
Penalta remains diverse even in terms of operations. Team members stem from a variety of backgrounds, and offer a unique blend of industry expertise to each project. According to Wallace, the ability to offer such a wide range of expertise has become a challenge in recent years. The skilled trade worker shortage in Ontario (and, to an extent, Canada) poses an obstacle to completing many building projects.
Penalta came up with a unique solution to this issue. Should the company be unable to offer expertise in a particular field necessary to project completion, Penalta will investigate and recruit a qualified subcontractor. These subcontractors will often be brought in from different areas of Canada, as Penalta strives to only associate with the very best in the industry.
A large segment of Penalta’s corporate identity lies in their association to Orphans Foundation Fund. In 2007, the two organizations worked together to construct the Rafiki Orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania. Several Penalta staff members volunteered to visit the project and work alongside local workers.
Today, Penalta continues to support the Rafiki Orphanage and remains heavily involved in its development. The company hosts the annual FORE! Rafiki Golf Tournament, raising funds that are sent directly to supporting the orphanage’s operations. To date, the fundraising campaign has provided the 35 children of the Rafiki Orphanage with a well that provides up to 16,000 litres of clean water per day.
Penalta maintains an active presence within the local community. The company currently contributes through time, effort, and finances to Home Suite Hope, Mega Day, Children’s Wish Foundation, Oakville Lacrosse, OMHA Oakville Hockey, Georgetown Hockey, and the Oakville Crusaders.
For more information on the Penalta Group, please visit www. Penaltagroup.com.
Past CBJ articles on Penalta can be found in November 2010 and May 2012 publications.