Not Your Typical Underground Contractor

Working Around Water Presents Unique Challenges
July 2014, Vol. 69 No. 7

Firms in the business of repairing and replacing culverts need to look no further than the next job to discover potentially complex and unique situations, especially when unpredictable water and vehicle traffic are involved. For crews at a fast-growing Canadian construction firm, the greater the challenge the better.

“I’ve got some sharp people who are always looking for new experiences that test their ingenuity and skill,” says Stephen Foster, vice president and project manager for Titanium Contracting Inc., Toronto, Ontario, CA. “They are not all that interested in easier work. In fact, doing different things is high on their priority list. When I submit a bid, I have a fairly good idea of what my guys are capable of doing. There are some jobs that take them right to the edge of what they know. So I let them try to figure out what to do. That allows them to learn on their own, which I believe is the best way to learn. I do, however, steer them away from doing something that is unsafe or will negatively impact the budget. One thing for sure, they are not bored.”

The company, which began in the summer of 2012, specializes in municipal services work, often taking on projects that are beyond the comfort zone of other contractors. When water is involved, Titanium Contracting is right at home.

“On many jobs you can control most variables,” Foster says. “Introduce water and everything changes. There’s more risk, but I believe if you plan and approach the job understanding the risks associated with water, you can do just fine.”

The problem with water, Foster points out, is that you can have a certain amount of flow the day you start the job, then it rains the next day and the project takes a different turn.

“The hardest part is figuring how to stage the job so that if your dams break or if the pumps cannot keep up, the job is always kept in a state that it can handle the water passing through and not cause damage downstream. We are always careful to make sure that if there is a flood event, we have taken every precaution to hold sediment to a minimum.”

Foster, who was trained as a hydro geologist, says Titanium’s success in and around water has been one of the building blocks helping his company grow and keeping his employees working 40 to 60 hours a week throughout the year. In addition to culvert projects, Titanium Contracting also does demolition and deconstruction, including asbestos abatement, landscaping, site remediation and storm water management.

Atypical project