Even in an industry that can be highly complex, the building blocks to success are simple: create a committed team, listen to each client’s needs, provide practical solutions – and do it all with a commitment to excellence.
For Keystone Environmental Ltd., a consulting firm that provides expertise on a spectrum of environmental challenges – such as contaminated sites, site assessments, environmental management and compliance programs – those fundamentals have helped the company achieve incredible longevity and continued growth, along with a sterling reputation in the industry.
Raminder Grewal, president of Keystone Environmental, notes that the organization first opened its doors in 1988 as a subsidiary of The Koppers Company, with just a single employee. In 1993, Keystone became independent after being acquired by the initial three shareholders and the company refocused its business efforts on the local B.C. marketplace. They now have a team of over 90 staff, and have been headquartered in Burnaby for almost two decades.
“Over the years, our solutions approach to the environmental consulting practice has continued in all disciplines in which we provide services: biological sciences, engineering and contaminated sites,” said Grewal. “On each of our client engagements we seek to meet the needs of our clients while respecting the environmental considerations, developing solutions that achieve the goals of both the client, and the regulatory community.” The company is often up against massive multinational companies, as many competitors in the market were purchased and merged into larger engineering firms over the years.
“Our challenge is to compete against these large firms that have significant marketing budgets, vast technical experience internationally, and the ability to secure large client engagements,” said Grewal. “While we continue to compete with major engineering firms, we have focused on remaining nimble and laser focused on our clients’ objectives with more resources and technical bench strength and are now developing a network of relationships with other environmental engineering firms.”
One of the ways Keystone has garnered its phenomenal reputation is by investing in its people.
“Ultimately, our client’s overall success is obtained by focusing on staff and mentoring them in their career to help them reach their own personal career goals,” he said.
In fact, he notes, fostering staff is part of Keystone’s mission statement, which states: “Focusing on people and performance, we will be the go-to environmental consulting firm.”
Grewal himself has earned plenty of accolades over the years as well: in 2007, he became the youngest partner and department head in the company’s history. Since then, he has grown the company’s revenue year over year, and created new relationships with diverse core clients, including federal contracts with agencies such as Public Works. In 2013, he became president and then majority shareholder in 2017.
The company was named in Canada’s Top 100 Small and Medium Employers this year, a reflection of efforts to ensure Keystone is an employer of choice. And recently, Grewal was named the Burnaby Board of Trade’s 2018 Business Person of the Year in their annual Business Excellence Awards.
It’s a significant recognition of the leadership he’s provided the company but he says the credit ultimately goes to his staff.
“This was only a result of our team,” he said. “I am very fortunate to work with such an amazing team. Our strength is in our people and how we pull together in challenging projects.”
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