Blueprints. They are ubiquitous in the construction world. From design to build, those oversized rolls of blue-inked papers—often tucked under the arms of project managers or spread out over ad-hoc tables at construction sites—guide the development process. But by 2020, ETRO Construction Principal Mike Maierle says his company will no longer use the paper drawings, going 100 per cent paperless in the office and using tablets at all his construction sites.
“We want to be a more sustainable company,” explains the BCIT alumnus. “We’re going beyond what’s expected of us.”
ETRO’s innovative approach to sustainability also include leveraging systems, programs, and construction methods such as Passive House, Net Zero Buildings and the pursuit of more sustainable buildings utilizing Mass Timber/CLT, plus using technology such as BIM, REVIT, in pre-fabrication and virtual and augmented reality technologies.
Mike believes the industry can do better, and he hopes ETRO can help lead the way. The company has established a dedicated green committee that is looking at a sustainable roadmap to 2032. The plans includes switching their company vehicles to electric, focusing more on restoration and modernization, and significantly reducing waste on construction sites. To ensure their staff are current with the latest sustainable building practices, the company regularly sends employees for training at BCIT. This year, ETRO staff will also be exploring new ways of building sustainable cities at the BCIT-hosted forum Ecocity World Summit, October 7 – 11, in Vancouver.
From the basement on up
On November 1, 2015, Mike sat alone in the basement of his home. He had just resigned from his management job with North American construction giant Ledcor to start his own development business, ETRO Construction.
“When I first quit, I thought I was pretty awesome,” he recalls of his early days as a one-person operation. “But when I called people, they questioned whether my success in the business was because of me or because of Ledcor. It was very humbling. But I had to suck it up and get back up the next day.” Mike adds that Ledcor was an incredible place to grow his experience and learn from mentors.
Today, ETRO employs 70 full-time employees, boasts a roster of multi-million dollar developments, and has been recognized with numerous awards. Most recently, Mike was named a recipient of a 2018 Top 40 under 40 award by Business in Vancouver and the 2019 Construction Leadership Award by the BC Construction Association. In 2018, ETRO received a VRCA Award of Excellence.
The perfect training ground
“After just four months into my program at BCIT, I remember telling my dad I couldn’t do it,” he says. “It was hard. I thought I’d have to do the [two-year] program over three years. At BCIT, you’re constantly in the eye of the storm.” Mike persevered and graduated with an Architectural and Building Technology diploma in 2002 and later returned to BCIT to pursue a Construction Management degree.
As a former student, Mike knows the rigors of technical schools—like BCIT—and what it takes to survive. That’s why a healthy handful of ETRO employees are technical school grads.
“We know where they’ve come from, that they know how to work hard, and that they know how to be collaborative,” he explains why ETRO hires so many alumni from BCIT and other technical schools from across Canada. “There just isn’t any better place to learn. BCIT is tough, but it’s an amazing training ground.”