Govan Brown: Progress in Construction Management

Govan Brown: Progress in Construction Management

Twenty years ago, Ralph Govan and John Brown founded Govan Brown Construction Managers to serve Toronto’s construction industry. Today, the business stretches across most of Canada and is widely recognized as a progressive leader in the field of construction management. In 2003, Jon Taylor joined the firm as its third partner.


A Place of Progress

Govan Brown is a brand committed to progress on several fronts, making significant investments to enhance its capabilities in technology and improving on its integrated management accounting systems. “We have been recognized for a number of years as leaders in our industry in CMIC which is an integrated suite of packages that allows us to fully integrate the accounting and the project management functions,” says Jon Taylor.. “We invested heavily in developing and rolling that out across our entire organization, and it has provided us with a real robust way of tracking and managing costs on every construction project that we undertake, regardless of size or complexity. We’re really proud of that, and it’s a real differentiator.”


The company is also dedicated to sustainability and green building, participating in around 50 LEED-certified projects totaling upwards of 3 million square feet throughout Canada over the years. Even as the trend of LEED certification has ebbed, Govan Brown continues to offer its clients a focus on green building tenets such as minimized waste, maximum recycling and sorting of materials, and sourcing environmentally responsible construction materials.


“We have a lot of younger people in our organization, and I think the environment and the responsibility that we play as an organization is important to them – we’re very committed to it, and it’s a big part of our culture and our business,” says Taylor, noting that the company offers encouragement and education compensation to employees interested in seeking out LEED accreditation. “It’s part of our corporate culture across the country.”


People and Places: The Govan Brown Difference

Govan Brown’s corporate culture is a vital part of what sets the brand apart – it’s a culture dedicated to promoting safety, excellence, and empowerment among Govan Brown’s employee base. It is also a culture that has also garnered significant recognition, as the company has been named among Canada’s Best Managed Companies list for six years in a row and have re-qualified for a 7th win.


“We’re really proud of that,” says Taylor. “It’s something you have to requalify for every year, and we continue to improve – but I always look at it as a real testament to our staff and our team members across the country, and their commitment to Govan Brown and to our clients.” 


After all, it’s the people who make the business continue to grow and thrive year after year. “Govan Brown is a name and it’s a brand – but really, Govan Brand is all about the people we have,” says Taylor. “We have an incredible group of people across the country who are totally committed to our business and to our clients. In the end, a construction business is all about people and making sure we’re all aligned and growing in the same direction. That’s what differentiates us.”


Another part of what separates Govan Brown from the competition is the fact that its corporate culture extends across the country, where the business has offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa in addition to its headquarters in Toronto.  


“Our other real key differentiator is having that footprint across the country to serve our clients on a national basis, adds Taylor. “Most CM companies are very regional or city-based in nature, but what we have done is build a national network of offices owned by Govan Brown so that we’re able to execute projects across the country for our key clients. When someone has fifteen projects across Canada, they can turn to us and we can serve them nationally through our local network of offices. That’s been a real growth driver for us.”


What the Future Holds for Govan Brown

Growth is the name of the game for Govan Brown, both in the present and in the future ahead. The business moved its national headquarters into a state-of-the-art new office a year ago and it’s only up from there. “We have a lot of exciting projects and mandates with companies like Nordstrom and La Maison Simons, and so we’re going to continue to grow our businesses regionally,” says Taylor, noting that Govan Brown may even expand its offices further into Atlantic Canada within the next few months.


In addition to diversifying its geography, the business is also actively working to diversify what it can offer its clients. “Through good fortune and some hard work by key people, we’ve able to diversify away from just the corporate office interiors,” says Taylor. “Now we’re doing corporate office interiors, hospitality – restaurants and entertainment facilities – and retail. So we’re going to continue to grow those parts of our business, and I’m really excited about the next few years at Govan Brown. We have a unique space in our market with our national presence, a really good team of up-and-coming young people and seasoned veterans, and I think our business will continue to grow. We’re very excited about what the future holds.” 

Govan Brown
Ralph Govan