The Consummate Consultant: 60 Years of Delivering on the Golder Promise

Written by Jen Hocken

Across the globe, companies and governments are creating the world of tomorrow. They are building vital infrastructure, developing projects, restoring landscapes and renewing their economies with sustainable solutions in mind.

To support these ambitious projects, employee-owned Golder provides consulting, design, and construction services in specialist areas of earth, environment, and energy through technical excellence, innovative solutions and award-winning client service. Golder’s clients represent the world’s major industries and drivers of development in Infrastructure, Manufacturing, Power, Oil and Gas and Mining.

Golder’s people are truly invested in, committed to, and are the primary beneficiaries of, Golder’s success. This commitment sets Golder apart in every aspect of what it does. Clients know they are working with people who own the business and the outcome.

Canadian roots
The tiny seed of a global company was planted during a friendly chat at a dinner party sixty years ago.

In the late 1950s, Dr. Hugh Golder, a pioneer in the field of geotechnical engineering, came to Canada from England to investigate the possibility of building a bridge to Prince Edward Island. Although that project was a no-go, Golder was a talented engineer and soon found work in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was at the aforementioned dinner party that Dr. Hugh Golder got chatting to a fellow engineer named Victor Milligan. As they found common ground, the chat became a discussion and the topic became the possibility of opening a business – specifically, their own. Together they founded Golder Associates in 1960 with its first office opening in downtown Toronto.

“They wanted to create a different kind of engineering company. At the time they focused on geotechnical engineering, and in the 1960s that was a bit of a new science. Geotech was a specialty and there were a few folks who were good at it. Hugh was one of them,” says Steve Keenan, Principal, Ontario Geotechnical Group Leader, Golder.

The original plan was to create an employee-owned company focusing on high quality geotechnical engineering. They assumed the company would never grow beyond 25 people. They would have never imagined Golder would eventually employ over 7,500 people in 40-plus countries as it does today.

In 1992, Golder’s journey came full circle when the company was hired to provide geotechnical services for the Confederation Bridge, a 12,900-meter bridge carrying the TransCanada highway across the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island.

Throughout the early 1970s, Golder established operations in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia while doing project work around the world. The company expanded its offering to include a wide range of services related to earth, environment, and energy. Today, Golder remains 100 percent employee owned, with 155 offices on six continents providing services to customers across global markets.

Modernizing infrastructure and building for tomorrow
The global need for repair, expansion and construction of transportation infrastructure is becoming increasingly complex, and so are the engineering and environmental solutions required to accommodate these transportation challenges.

Determining optimal routes, evaluating environmental impacts and understanding critical ground conditions along the routes are just some of the technical issues requiring careful analysis. Equally challenging is the need to balance the social, economic and environmental needs inevitably associated with these major roads, railways, tunnels, airports and ports.

“We bring a deep understanding of the ground engineering and environmental challenges that infrastructure projects face. Based on this experience, our clients can have confidence that their assets can be successfully designed, built, and safely operated throughout the lifecycle of the structure,” says Lisa Coyne, Principal and Senior Geotechnical Engineer, Golder.

Golder’s Ontario team supports infrastructure work with local municipalities and the provincial government, modernizing public infrastructure and helping to build a seamless transportation network, to meet the needs of a growing population. For the seventh consecutive year, Golder has been awarded Platinum Elite status in the annual Top100 report presented by ReNew Canada, with 37 Canadian projects on the list and a combined construction value of more than $136B.

“We are proud to have had a role on some of most complex infrastructure projects in Canada,” says Anthony Ciccone, Principal and Vice President of Infrastructure and Power, Golder. “Risk reduction is essential to these projects. Our team supports risk reduction by providing timely and accurate geotechnical analysis, environmental services support, as well as archaeology support, to avoid or mitigate any potential issues.”

The projects are great examples of Golder’s technical ingenuity and ability to develop practical solutions to complex challenges, including transportation, energy, transit, waste management, buildings, remediation, and water.

Delivering multidisciplinary construction solutions
When construction projects involve engineering and environmental challenges, you’ll want to involve Golder, because they welcome tough assignments. The integration of Golder’s ground engineering and environmental expertise enables its teams to determine the optimal solutions on projects.

Using a full-cycle view, Golder provides added benefits to a project such as transforming an abandoned mining area into a municipal waste disposal facility or rehabbing a landfill into an income-producing property.

Golder delivers construction projects using various commercial models, offering flexible construction services for turn-key packages to suit its clients’ needs. Commercial delivery models include: Principal Contractor, Specialized Subcontractor, Engineering Procurement and Constructions (EPC), Design/Build or Construction Manager. No matter which role, Golder delivers an integrated team with practicality in mind.

Golder delivers construction success using deep technical expertise, dedication to health and safety and tenacious project management capabilities.

“Our broad multidisciplinary expertise delivers greater efficiencies, more effective communications and sustainable results throughout a project’s lifecycle. Many of our construction projects include numerous disciplines, from hydrogeology, to environmental, to archaeology, to geotechnical engineering. With all these services under one roof we are able support our clients with every aspect of a project,” says Dale Edwards, Associate, Senior Project Manager, Golder.

Better site knowledge brings about better remediation
Environmental consulting services are another key component of Golder’s service offering. These can include evaluating a contaminated site to design a remediation program for a company that wants to develop or redevelop a site. Golder’s remediation experts identify and quantify a site’s environmental composition, assess the short- and long-term risks, explore possibilities for continued use, and then develop solutions that can minimize cost and mitigate risk while improving environmental conditions.

Clients around the world depend on Golder to find a better path for environmental remediation. Golder brings the knowledge and expertise of more than 800 professionals specializing in site investigation and remediation to every challenge.

“From our global network, Golder is able to assemble a team that has the exact skills needed to successfully complete a project – scientists, engineers and project managers who can assess risk to develop and implement the most effective, lowest-cost technical solutions,” says Mike Cleverdon, Principal, Ontario Environmental Group Leader, Golder.

During the development cycle of a project, a client will face many challenges that Golder can help to solve. During the site characterization phase, Golder can provide the full range of investigative services including geotechnical, hydrogeological, archaeological, environmental due diligence, and contaminant assessments.

Golder can also assist with any remediation or environmental issues that might arise during this phase as well. Then, when the project moves into the construction phase, Golder experts can support clients by working closely with the development team and civil engineers, and providing guidance related to materials testing and earthworks.

Safety first, always
Golder maintains high safety standards. Health and Safety is considered first and is embedded in how they work. It is a deciding factor when clients, employees and partners choose Golder – and how Golder chooses them. It is the core of Golder’s culture, woven not only into all internal processes but also the personal values and mindsets of leaders and employees alike.

Golder’s people are trained to carry out technical tasks safely, with increased awareness and skills that are applicable at work and home. Golder is committed to a work environment supported by internal monitoring systems, risk management protocols and internal controls with a goal of zero serious incidents.

Working at Golder
The basis of Golder’s business is the knowledge and expertise of its people. It is the application of that experience and passion to find innovative solutions that provides value to Golder’s clients. Delivery of quality solutions, with high calibre people, leads to business growth, and this has been the underlying reason for Golder’s success throughout the world. It is for that reason that people leadership strategies are the company’s highest priority.

Through innovation and technical excellence, Golder hopes to continue to attract the best people, deliver on the client-focused aspects of its strategy, and be increasingly adaptive to markets and opportunities. Golder is committed to delivering a challenging and rewarding career, a fun and dynamic work environment, and a place to cultivate relationships for years to come.

Planning for the future
As the company marks its 60th anniversary, it is taking the long view as it plans for the future. To that end, Golder brought together 750 Principals and Associates in December 2019 at a Global Partners Meeting to begin the process of developing its next intermediate-term strategy for 2025. As a broadly held employee-owned company, Golder focuses on employee satisfaction and making it a great place to work. As the company continues to grow, it is expanding its emphasis on social responsibility, inclusion, sustainability and giving back to the communities it works within.

After six decades in business, Golder has built a reputation not only for its professional excellence but also for its commitment to clients. Having grown from a small Canadian geotechnical firm into a global leader with a wide range of specialties, Golder has proven that its true talent is in hiring the best, building strong client relationships and delivering the consummate benefit of the consultative role.



Storm in a Teacup

Read Our Current Issue


Food for Thought

June 2024

A Living Underwater Laboratory

May 2024

Achieving Equity Through Sustainability

April 2024

More Past Editions

Cover Story

Featured Articles