Copcan Civil Ltd
Copcan Civil Ltd. (Copcan) has been in business since 1985, when the Gregson family first began performing land clearing work in British Columbia. Named after the business’ first project in Copper Canyon, B.C., Copcan began to expand and diversify quickly.
Marilyn and Bryan Gregson established the business and first began providing services in 1979, taking on odd jobs around Vancouver Island. The business expanded naturally into logging and forestry work in the early years, later adding an aggregate quarry, as well as highway and municipal construction services.
In 2015, Bryan still serves as president. The couple’s sons, John and Dave Gregson, serve as general managers of the growing firm. The family business has been building relationships throughout Western Canada for more than 30 years and boasts many long-term employees.
Copcan employs between 80 and 150 people, depending on the season, and serves customers in British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon Territory. The business stands apart from other contractors through diverse services, experience and a strong record for safety.
The company’s construction division specializes in heavy civil work, including highway construction, bridges, sewer and water. Copcan’s target market includes municipalities and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
From a series of shops and yards, the team is able to provide leading construction services across a broad geographic footprint. With a headquarters in Nanaimo, the business also has a work yard in the Yukon, a yard in Kelowna, a yard in Castlegar and a satellite office in Rossland, British Columbia.
One of the company’s more recent, larger projects was work in Kelowna along Lakeshore Road near the shores of Lake Okanagan. “This was a full bridge replacement over Mission Creek,” explains John. “We took out the old bridge, put in a new one, and redid the sewer, storm, water and gas, as well as relocating overhead utilities underground. The Lakeshore project was one of our more complicated projects. The bridge sits on one of the major roads during tourist season, so traffic management was a major component and we were on a tight timeline. There were also significant environmental challenges as we were working right beside the lake, virtually over the river that feeds into it. Safety is a priority on every job, but this one had even more to take into account.”
Another major project for the team has been work in Sparwood, performing earth work for a new industrial park. “This was another challenging contract,” John notes. “We were moving a lot of dirt and we had to go under the main highway with utilities. Logistics were important here.”
The team exceeds at logistically challenging projects and has frequently been awarded for efforts in safety and ingenuity. In 2014, Copcan was a runner-up as the province’s best highway bridge contractor, recognized for a project replacing the Little Sand Creek Bridge near Jaffray, British Columbia.
Going through changes
While the team’s diversity of capabilities has been an asset over the years, the Gregsons strive to meet clients’ needs efficiently. Sometimes that means downsizing aspects of the operation.
“Over the last few years we have gone through a major shift,” John explains. “For a long time, forestry was a main focus for us. We are shifting out of that now and investing our resources into more profitable sectors that will help us better serve our clientele.”
Moving forward, construction will serve as the primary function of the business. As such, the team is making new investments and bulking up staff in order to better serve the market. Copcan’s quarry operation continues to play an integral role in the business. While a majority of the aggregate is sold to outside parties, the business also uses the stone, gravel and sand for in-house applications, such as fill on the team’s many jobsites throughout the region.
One of the company’s biggest ongoing investments is safety. John is proud of his team at Copcan. Many of his employees have been with the business for decades. This loyalty provides more than a steady labor pool for the business.
The consistency of his crew means John’s clients have come to expect experience and service from familiar faces. These team members adopt personal accountability for the safety and efficiency of each job, allowing Copcan to continue providing leading construction and utility services to customers.
In the coming years, John expects to see more work coming in from the interior. The government of British Columbia has approved spending for infrastructure projects which will keep the team busy. Meanwhile, relationships with hydro and gas companies will provide steady workflow on that end of the business. Leveraging experience, accountability and hard work, Copcan Civil Ltd. is on a path of steady growth, offering continued quality and efficiency to municipalities, governments and utility companies in British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon.