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Celebrates 30 Years By Mary Savage

The management team at D.A. Watt Consulting

Photo by Bookstrucker Photography

Infrastructure in the Making… In the field, in the office and on the road

“If you believe you can accomplish something, then it’s amazing what you will actually achieve! Our beliefs were a big part of laying the foundation for our success. We had a lot of sleepless nights, but we saw the opportunities ... we turned a blind eye to risk and we hit the ground running!” ~ David Watt, president, D.A. Watt Consulting


lberta’s economy during 1983 had plummeted – causing many businesses to fold or operate with a skeletal staff. For ambitious entrepreneurs, it was a dismal time to start a business, but that didn’t stop David

Watt and Tom Medlicott. They saw the hidden opportunities that lie between the cracks of a recession. And with virtually no investment capital, they moved forward with an unwavering belief they could build a business.

DA Watt | 30 Years |


David Watt, president and founder of D. A. Watt Consulting Group Ltd. Photos, this page, by Bookstrucker Photography.

In the decades that followed, their vision came to fruition and D.A. Watt Consulting Group Ltd. (DAW) is one of the oldest and most respected engineering firms in Calgary. The company provides an extensive scope of services that offers leading-edge geomatics, civil engineering and transportation planning expertise to both the private and pubic sectors. From subdivisions and shopping centres to traffic studies and thoroughfares, DAW has helped to shape the city we call home. It is a company where all three divisions work seamlessly

Bruce Nelligan, Vice President

to maximize their resources – all in an effort to provide the best services and guidance possible. Inside each operating division, you will find state-of-the-art technology – much of which has been designed in-house – thereby placing DAW in a league of their own. Their leadership and management team has developed many long-standing relationships, both internally and externally. Many of the employees who were originally hired during the 1980s are still with the firm – a rarity in any industry. Today you will find a thriving and progressive business that employs

Spacemakers is proud of the long-term relationship shared with DA Watt Consulting. Congratulations on your 30th Anniversary!

Mike Meyer, • P: 403-277-5565 • F: 403-277-5562 DA Watt | 30 Years |


85 people. Additionally, they are proud of the scope and breadth of their external relationships; many of which span three decades. They have never lost sight of the importance of the people, and DAW has spent 30 years building a business based on integrity, trust and individualized attention to their clients and employees alike. As DAW celebrates their 30th anniversary, they reflect on their evolution, but more importantly they are focused on the future: building a succession plan for the next generation. From the very beginning, the founders’ vision was to build a legacy firm – a vision in the engineering and surveying industry that is virtually unheard of in an age of rapidly increasing corporate takeovers.

Reflecting on Three Decades…

By the time the two men started the business, Watt had about 15 years of experience in the engineering sector and Medlicott brought equal experience in the legal survey field – making a perfect partnership to build an engineering and land surveying firm. By the early 1980s, both men worked for the same company: Entek Engineering owned by Nu-West Developments Ltd., and when the economy sank, they recognized an abundant pool of resources that surrounded them. “Due to the rapidly shrinking economy of the early 1980s, Entek was going to fold. Tom and I recognized an opportunity to pick up the threads and start an engineering and survey company based on Entek’s legacy; which was focused on the land development industry,” says Watt.

“Entek had about $150,000 worth of computer equipment and we bought that equipment for $20,000. Our office had an existing lease of $7.50 a square foot that we negotiated down to $1.75 a square foot. We bought a lot of survey equipment and I’d be surprised if we paid more than 20 cents on the dollar for it – it was risky, but there was opportunity,” recalls Watt. During the mid to late 1980s, D.A. Watt secured a few large-scale projects, one of which was with Morguard Investments. They had about 1,000 acres of land that was banked for future development – a carry-over relationship from the Entek days. DAW looked after the land management and survey work along with forging new business relations, among them was with colleague Grant McDonald, who in the years that followed would join the company and become a key person within the organization. It was also during the late 1980s when Watt and Medlicott met Nick Finn who was working for a national transportation company. At the time, the three men were working together on a proposed regional town centre on the west side of the city at 17th Avenue and 69th Street southwest – the site of the future west LRT, office buildings, shopping centres and adjacent subdivisions. In 1987, Watt approached Finn to sublet office space for his transportation business and six years later, Finn partnered with DAW – heading up the transportation division, Finn Transportation Consultants. The new partnership allowed DAW to expand into new industries and strengthened their position in the marketplace, and within a year, Finn became a principal of DA. “In difficult economic times and in this industry, you’re marketing the principals of the firms: David was synonymous with

No one knows the lay of the land like you. Congratulations to D.A. Watt on 30 years!

j i DA Watt | 30 Years |


land development, Nick was known for his experience in transportation, Tom brought his expertise to the legal survey side of the business and Grant brought project management expertise. It’s more than just the name you hang on the front door – the clients are hiring the people behind the company name,” says Tom Medlicott, co-founder and principal. “Sustaining this principal of personal commitment to long-term relationships continues to account for the long-term success and growth of the company.” Over the decades, there has been a lot of cross-pollination among the divisions: the engineering division started to work outside of residential subdivisions – moving into the industrial and commercial sector. Geomatics started to work for the architects that had been clients of the transportation division, and the company continued to broaden its scope of client services. By the mid-1990s, McDonald had returned to DAW after a short departure to pursue software development. McDonald became a principal of the firm while managing the shallow utilities aspect of the business – a role he still performs within the company today. In 2004, DAW was rebranded in an effort to strengthen

their public profile – bringing the transportation, engineering and geomatics divisions together. “It was at that point when we started to focus on corporate marketing and we shifted our internal efforts to provide a comprehensive package under a single brand,” adds Medlicott. On the engineering side, there have been significant changes to their internal operations. “We have increased our capabilities and as an example, we used to hire consultants for storm water management and analysis, but we now have those experts in-house,” says Watt. “There are many companies that provide engineering services, but there’s not many that do it as well as we do. We are one of the very few small to mid-sized, multi-disciplined engineering companies that is committed to succession planning.” Today, there is a new management team poised to lead the company into the future. “For the past decade, we’ve been working hard to ensure we have another generation behind us that can take over the business and we hope they will do the same,” says Finn. Bruce Nelligan, vice president, joined the company seven years ago as the assistant manager of transportation. He was attracted to DAW because of the size of the firm and career

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Congratulations to DA Watt Consulting on their 30 th Anniversary!

D.A. Watt Consulting on your 30th Anniversary As a valued partner to Baywest Homes for most of those 30 years, we applaud this occasion and your continued success serving the land development & new home industry.

DA Watt | 30 Years |


development opportunities. Within four months of being hired, Nelligan was promoted to manager and in subsequent years, became vice president. He is also one of the board members and is a key voice in contributing to the development of a long-term plan for the firm. “We are growth-oriented, we are expanding our services and we are creating opportunities for our employees,” says Nelligan. “But we also understand the importance of keeping our internal culture personalized: we don’t want to operate as a large-scale firm. Clients like working with smaller firms and knowing the principals are in touch with their projects – the clients appreciate a personal touch.” Joining Nelligan in leading the company forward is Mike Szarmes, manager of geomatics, Graham Cripps, manager of engineering, Tomasz Kroman, manager of transportation, and Tyler Harrison, manager of finance and administration. “We want to continually bring value to our clients and that’s achieved through providing guidance, our work ethic, technology and training,” says Cripps. “DAW is evolving and our employees want to work with the best tools in order to provide our clients with the best advice – and we are completely behind them.”

DAW recently expanded into Kelowna and Lloydminister, and is actively seeking other western Canadian opportunities for growth. “The future is bright and we have a strong team of people who are extremely dedicated,” adds Nelligan.

In the Field and On the Road…

DAW has played a role in helping to build infrastructure throughout the city. In recent years, their team of experts has been involved with a few keynote projects: The Bow Building, Mount Royal University, the Calgary Airport expansion and the East Village development to name a few. These projects have drawn upon their engineering, geomatics and transportation expertise from the onset. DAW has been involved with the East Village since 2005 where early work involved road closures, subdivisions and consolidations to establish a framework for land development. Currently there are three highrise developments underway along with ongoing projects such as the National Music Centre and the St. Louis Hotel.

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Congratulations to our friends at DA Watt Consulting! One local company helping another. ~ From all of us at Stormwater Solutions Inc.

DA Watt | 30 Years |


Mapping the Earth’s Surface… Land and legal surveying has been integral to DA’s operation, hence the geomatics team is continually watching the technology horizon in order to stay one step ahead of the curve. Laser scanning, data preparation for machine control and in-house software development has given DAW a competitive edge that allows them to work smarter and more efficiently. “Laser scanning means we can survey the land very rapidly and safely that otherwise couldn’t be done efficiently,” says Mike Szarmes. “We are able to collect and process a lot of very high-quality information because of our capabilities – the data is incredibly accurate. When the client wants more information, there’s no need to resurvey.” GPS and data preparation for machine control (heavy earth moving equipment) is another area where DAW is breaking new ground. “Many of our clients have started to use ‘machine control’ technology, eliminating the need for staking the ground. With ‘stakeless surveying’ we now provide a detailed map of the surface for the excavation work,” he adds. “We have invested in the software that’s necessary to analyze and process the mapping and navigational information collected.” | BUILDINGS | CIVIL INFRASTRUCTURE | SPECIAL PROJECTS |

The geomatics team also uses many standard instruments found in the field today: GPS, total station, robotic total stations, precise level instruments and CADD to mention a few. “We use all of these tools collectively and, combined with our in-house expertise, it enables us to provide high-end results. We are very diverse and that supports the needs of a diverse clientele,” he continues. As Szarmes has observed, they have a variety of different initiatives underway in software development and are currently improving their CADD processing capabilities to improve coordination of field crews. “In three years, we haven’t needed to increase our homebuilder fees and that’s due to improvements in our internal efficiencies … and that’s huge,” remarks Szarmes. “When we approach a problem, we don’t look at what our competitors are doing: we look back at how we traditionally have carried out the work, define the processes, talk to the right people, design an effective and efficient solution, and move forward,” he says. “We are not a typical engineering and survey firm, and because we are a smaller firm, we think differently – and our clients appreciate that fact.”

Congratulations on achieving 30 years! We wish you many more years of success!

Congratulations to D.A. Wa Consulting on your 30th anniversary

From all of us at Lane Quinn Benefit Consultants Ltd.

Shown: City Centre Rendering

Sharing your vision. Building success.

Phone: 403.261.6084 | Fax: 403.264.1027

We are more than builders. We are construction partners who are passionate about what we do and about our partners’ success. PCL is proud to partner with D.A. Watt Consulting in southern Alberta.

Happy 30 th To D.A. WATT! You have been a perfect partner in launching our 3 communities. We look forward to our continued partnership.

Watch us build at DA Watt | 30 Years |


Likewise DAW has been a member of the Urban Development Institute (UDI) and the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (Calgary Region) for many years. Residential subdivisions have been a part of their core business since day one. “Through land surveying, we’ve always done residential development in both the city and surrounding communities,” says Medlicott. “The Urban Residential Distribution program (URD) with Enmax Energy is another long-term relationship that started about 15 years ago when electric power, natural gas, telephone and cable TV utilities were consolidated – creating the ‘single trench’ approach,” adds Medlicott. “We were involved very early on with that process and we have worked in various capacities. At one point we looked after all the project management, scheduling and surveying. For the past 12 years, we have done the shallow utility surveying for every new subdivision in the city,” he continues. In 30 years, many things have changed, but there are still a few things that remain the same. “We have maintained client relations by providing excellent service and that’s reflected in our reputation. It’s a very exciting time to be a part of DAW and I’m honoured to be given the opportunity to help lead this company into the future,” says Nelligan. • f ssional fe a success. on 30 years of profe

A lot can change in 30 years... your excellence has not.

“Congratulations on

30 years

of Success!”

From Your Partner In Business...


We’ve enjoyed our numerous succes consulting team projects over the years. We look for ward to continued success wit h the D.A. Watt team in the years ahead! “Great plans shaping great communities”

DA Watt | 30 Years |


Congratulations & Thank you Dave Watt ...and his very competent team for exceptional engineering services in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. We count on them and we get results. Musgrave Agencies Ltd.


Real Estate & Land Development

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DA Watt | 30 Years |

8 Lloydminster, AB/SK

D.A. Watt Celebrates 30 Years  
D.A. Watt Celebrates 30 Years