Torbear Contracting

Torbear Contracting has provided clients with high-quality, cost-effective solutions on countless projects in a diverse array of industries. Based in Ontario, Torbear has grown almost under the radar. Torbear’s primary source of work has been competitive tendering, which has usually followed an open public prequalification process. It has also grown through referrals and repeat business rather than endlessly and expensively touting its own success.  

“We just passed our 20 year anniversary,” General Manager Michael Helyer says. “We don’t advertise, we get our business through competitive tenders, the majority of which are prequalified and require you to have a track record of successful completion, quality workmanship and strong financial backing.”

Having been active in the commercial and institutional building sectors in Southern Ontario since its founding, the company’s projects have included everything from elementary and secondary schools, apartment building restorations, and special needs housing, to long-term care facilities, hotels, hospitals, municipal water and waste facilities, and airport construction. 

“The projects we build must have a long lifespan, which requires first-class workmanship,” Helyer says. “We also focus on health and safety to be sure we have a great track record there. First class workmanship demands first class health and safety.”

Although the company self-performs some aspects of its projects, the majority of the work is subcontracted to specialists. The company believes it can continue to grow by providing superior quality work for clients in the most cost efficient and effective manner.

“When we first started out, we had a mixed bag of work we were doing in a number of markets and then we started to do some work with Pearson International Airport,” Helyer says. “We then started to take some projects in the sewer and water sector and have evolved to where we are doing a lot of work in that market.”

The company takes a team approach to the construction process, which helps make sure that they run smoothly and successfully. Torbear works to understand the needs and requirements of its clients, ensuring that those needs are met throughout each project.

Demonstrating Success

Since its earliest days, Torbear has aimed to work on larger projects within its markets. Torbear is always striving for timely delivery while being attentive to details and providing quality construction. This includes working on many projects involving additions and alterations to occupied facilities.

Among its signature projects, Torbear is known for its work on the Pearson International Airport in Mississauga. The company’s projects include everything from a temporary baggage facility at Terminal 3, new airline check-in counters, expansion to Canada Customs and Immigration facilities, and a $50 million western expansion of Terminal 3 Central Processor including relocation and addition of airline gates, expanded U.S. Customs and Immigration facilities, and new baggage conveyor and screening systems to satisfy U.S. Homeland Security measures.

In recent years, most of Torbear’s work has been performed in the water and wastewater sector. This includes an upgrade of the Humber Treatment Plant’s waste activated sludge thickening facility in Etobicoke. A $40 million project, Torbear’s work on structural, electrical, control and process mechanical upgrades helped the plant improve process performance and system reliability, Helyer says. 

Another noteworthy project for Torbear in the water and wastewater market was the $45 million North Bay water treatment facility, which is the largest pressure membrane water treatment plant in North America. Fully automated, the facility’s environmental and sustainable design elements include rooftop solar panels that supplement heat requirements to the treatment process, as well as a lake water cooling system for cooling the plant in summer.

Torbear excels on large projects thanks to the expertise of its staff and by establishing collaborative relationships with clients and partners. The water and wastewater market is likely to remain the main focus for Torbear in the near future, but it will continue to perform work on any project in markets where it has built a legacy of success.

“We’ve invested in sophisticated systems to manage information flow, as well as the education of our people to improve their skills,” Helyer says. “We must always be able to add value to the service we provide so we can come up with ways to solve problems and execute.” 

Diverse Capabilities

Torbear serves as general contractor and construction manager, working with subcontractors in areas such as mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and concrete. 

The management at Torbear has extensive experience in commercial and institutional construction built up over the past 20 years in southern Ontario. The company’s site supervisors have more than 15 years of field experience in managing projects. 

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