Deep Foundations Contractors Inc.

Deep Foundations Contractors Inc. (DFC) prides itself on the quality of work it performs for clients in Canada and elsewhere. The specialized foundation contractor has completed more than 3,000 projects in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. 

DFC principal and professional engineer Peter McDonald says the company works both on residential projects, installing foundations and excavation support systems for underground condominium parking garages, as well as major heavy civil infrastructure jobs. Some of the company’s notable projects include the CN Tower, Skydome, Ontario Place, Toronto City Hall, the Hospital for Sick Children and Exhibition Place.

The company also laid-down the caissons for the Ontario College of Art, a unique project in that the college building stands on stilts, McDonald adds.

Partners Bill Lardner and David Miller founded the company in 1971. McDonald joined the company in 1977. “We’ve grown tremendously throughout the years,” he says. “We’ve always been a very innovative company, using the most modern equipment possible. Our equipment is very well-maintained and we’re always purchasing the most advanced new equipment as it comes on the market.

“We’re always coming up with innovative solutions – we often offer a better solution and a better product,” he adds. “In tight markets, competitive pricing is vital and beating schedule is essential.  With Canada’s most powerful drills and a seasoned staff, we are often the preferred contractor.”

Bouncing Back

McDonald says DFC has been able to bounce back from recessions in the 1980s and 1990s. Now, the company keeps up with shifts in its industry, such as a current emphasis on heavy civil projects. 

The company was prepared for an increase in government funding for hospitals, roadwork, transit systems and other infrastructure projects in and around Toronto in the past few years. “We started planning for that a few years ago,” McDonald says. “Because we knew that [spending] would happen, we hired and trained the right staff and acquired the right equipment.” 

Recent infrastructure projects include creating shafts, head walls and excavation support systems for the Sheppard Subway Line in Toronto, five major contracts over a six-year period. An extremely sensitive installation was for the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, which was declared a national historic civil engineering site in 1992. The plant remained fully operational during this work.

DFC recently hired 22 new field staff and two office staff. “Through sound management, we’ve always been able to keep our best employees, so when we hit a rebound, we’re ready to go,” he adds. “We’ve come through the recession with flying colors and are looking for tremendous growth in the next few years.”

One year ago, DFC built a large complex in Gormley, Ontario. “We built it precisely the way we wanted it,” McDonald adds. “It’s a wonderful, state-of-the-art facility built to meet requirements.”

A Variety of Services

DFC performs a number of foundation services, including caisson installation, driven piles, micropiles, helical piles, underpinning, load testing, and tiedown anchors. The company also provides excavation support systems, including soldier piles and lagging, secant pile walls and cutoff walls, soil nailing, rock and soil anchors and sheet piles.

The company says its newest machine is Canada’s largest capacity hydraulic drill rig. The rig has an attachment, which doubles torque capacity, allowing for the installation of caisson liners with rotation, eliminating the need for vibratory drivers. This method is used when working in sensitive areas, such as excavations adjacent to historical buildings.

High Quality

DFC’s commitment to quality and large fleet of the latest equipment has made it one of the largest foundation contractors in its region. “I think our high-quality, alternative solutions, our schedules, and the fact that we have our own maintenance and fabrication facilities distinguishes us,” McDonald says. 

The company’s knowledgeable and experienced staff also plays a large role in its success. “We have a very creative and successful shareholding and succession plan. [We have] numerous employees who have been with us for more than 20 years, and a number who have been here for more than 30 years. We have sons, brothers, cousins and even grandchildren of longstanding employees working for us now,” he adds. 

Because of the nature of DFC’s work, safety is of the utmost importance. DFC employees go through an extensive safety program and keep up their skills through monthly training. A safety officer regularly inspects and audits work sites, and good safety records are rewarded, McDonald says.

“We have an exceptional safety program that has won numerous awards in North America,” he adds.

The company itself has been recognized with multiple awards, including The Interna­tional Association of Foundation Drilling award for the best safety record in its class in North America, and has received an outstanding project of the year award from The Deep Foundations Institute, the worldwide association of foundation professionals.

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