Building Manitoba Through Word of Mouth

Building Manitoba Through Word of Mouth

Started in 1959, the Penner family is in its third generation of family management. Its finely tuned management system, combined with an experienced and cohesive staff, allows the company to provide quality construction services on a wide-range of projects from residential developments, auto dealerships, medical and educational facilities, water and sewage treatment plants and heavy civil projects.


For T.L. Penner, the recipe for success is simple: deliver quality craftsmanship and excellent customer experience, and the outcome will do the work for you. For the last 50 years that winning formula has helped the family-owned construction company become one of the largest general contracting firms in Western Manitoba.


Word of mouth


More valuable than paid advertising, word of mouth has been a driving force for the company’s success.


“Word of mouth advertising has been great for us, it’s easier for people to relate when they hear it directly from someone who we have worked with.” said General Manager Zac Penner, whose grandfather founded the company. “The service and customer experience we provide is one of the main reasons clients continue to work with us, and it’s one of the main reasons why clients continue to recommend our services to others.”


A majority of the company’s clientele is either repeat customers or direct referrals. According to Penner, it’s the company’s willingness to work with clients from conception to completion while maintaining its quality craftsmanship signature that has made word of mouth effective.


“Our main focus is to provide our clients with the best possible value we can. We go beyond what is expected of us. We offer warranty on every project we construct. If there is a problem that shows up after completion we will work with the client to ensure the problem is properly rectified.”



Along with word of mouth, the company’s longevity in the construction industry has illustrated how quality craftsmanship and customer service are the keys to successful project completion.


“We’ve been providing the same great service for the last 50 years,” adds Penner. “Our clients trust we’re not going anywhere.”


Competitive edge


Along with establishing a solid reputation for honesty and integrity among its clientele, T.L. Penner has cultivated beneficial working relationships with its workforce, including its design teams and subcontractors.


The company, which prides itself on construction management and overseeing the big picture, understands the construction industry is not a one-size-fits-all model. Therefore, it needs to contract specialty services.

“In recent years we’ve subcontracted a lot of the work because many of these projects call for specialized trades, and finding tradesman in the heart of oil country can be challenging” said Penner. “For things like this, you want people who specialize in these fields; people that do this work all the time.”


Another competitive edge T.L. Penner uses to its advantage is its comprehensive fleet of heavy construction equipment. Unlike some other companies, who may have to rent or borrow equipment for different projects, the company is able to start projects immediately after receiving approval.


“Because we own several key pieces of heavy construction equipment, we are not waiting on anybody else to mobilize to site before we can get started.” said Penner. “Because we control our equipment, we can better control the timetable of projects to ensure they’re completed on time. There has been times where this has been a real advantage for us.”


Because of its great working relationships with sub-trades and owning its own equipment fleet of equipment, T.L. Penner is able to secure the best available pricing, which in turn makes them very competitive in the marketplace.


“There has been many examples over the years of contractors taking advantage of changes during the work by over pricing and giving half credits. Customers are at the mercy of the contractor, and we don’t feel that’s acceptable. We pride ourselves on working with the customer, from beginning to end, to ensure they understand all costs,” said Penner.


“Once we have all the pricing in hand, we’ll go through it with the client to ensure they understand all the costs. We’ll go through every price line and how show them how we got to that figure. We’re really transparent in our pricing and I believe clients appreciate that.”


Projects: Past and present


T.L. Penner has recently completed an array of industrial and commercial infrastructure projects that the client, and company, are proud of.


In Dauphin, Manitoba, the company recently completed a new 40 unit apartment style building totaling $8 million. The project provides affordable housing for locals in the area, which is covered one-third by forgivable loans from Manitoba Housing, one-third from tenant life lease fees and one-third financed from a financial institution.

“We’re proud to be involved in this type of project,” said Penner. “For Manitoba, it’s a great model and we believe it’s the right thing to do.”


The company has also completed the Celebration Ford Car Dealership in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, which included importing roughly 30,000 cubic yards of clay fill in order to develop the new state-of-the-art facility.


“We got this project through word of mouth, and we worked with them throughout the design process to ensure they got a building that suited both their needs and their budget.” said Penner.


Another successful recently completed car dealership project is the Chapman Motors project in Killarney MB. The project consisted of two phases. Phase one was building a new mechanics shop and maintenance centre and the second phase included renovating the existing sales/showroom facility. 


“Car dealerships have generated a fair amount of business for us,” said Penner. “In the last couple years we’ve had several car dealerships come to us for facelifts and upgrades to their buildings. On several occasions we have taken a 70’s era, plain steel building and made it look like the Taj Mahal.”


Another project the company recently completed was the Tundra Oil & Gas office expansion. Owned by Tundra Oil and Gas, a long-time client of T.L. Penner, the project included expanding existing facility for the fourth time in 10 years.


“We first added onto this building in 2005 and then we expanded it in 2007, and then again in 2009,” said Penner. “They’re familiar with us and we’ve done enough renovations for them that we trust we can complete the work on time and on budget while not disrupting workers in the process. We do what we can do make sure everyone is happy.”


The company is currently developing one of the biggest projects in its 50-year history, a 60,000 square-foot K-12 school in Langenburg, Saskatchewan. Commenced in December 2014, the project is slated to be completed in the fall of 2016.


“It’s one of the biggest projects we’ve ever been a part of, and we’re excited to get it completed,” said Penner.

Zac Penner