Dol Turf Restoration Ltd.

Using Lasers to Level Playing Fields
Written by: 
Camila Osorno
Produced by: 
James Logan

There are few things Gord Dol appreciates more than a level playing field, which is why he created Dol Turf Restoration Ltd. (Dol Turf) in 1993. His entrance into this sector wasn’t necessarily the biggest change of scenery, considering Dol grew up in the industry. From the very beginning, Gord knew he wanted Dol Turf to be a highly specialized company, focused exclusively on sports field restoration, maintenance and construction.

“We started in 1993 strictly doing field management and maintenance work, but within a couple of years we expanded into rebuilding existing fields,” says Gord, president and founder of Dol Turf. The company constructs and manages artificial and natural turf sports, plus rubber running tracks; it also provides an array of services that address a field’s needs at every stage of its lifecycle. The Ontario-based company maintains headquarters in Bond Head, which allows the team to work with clients across Ontario.

However, Dol Turf knows no boundaries when it comes to clients. In the past the team has provided its expertise to sports fields in Manitoba and the East Coast. “In 2010 we devised a removable system that tied in artificial and natural turf for the University of Moncton in New Brunswick,” recalls Gord. The team’s design converted the university’s Olympic-grade track-and-field stadium into a regulation football facility. The artificial turf pieces converted the stadium’s D zones containing shot put and javelin areas into end zones.

“It was a lot of work for just one game, but we really proved ourselves,” reflects Gord. Effectively taking on these types of challenges is what has earned Dol Turf a reputation for being one of the country’s foremost sports field construction companies over the years. A large part of that reputation is the result of Gord’s early adoption of groundbreaking technologies and continual investment in state-of-the-art equipment. Dol Turf invested in laser-assisted grading equipment back in 1999; this is something most sports field construction companies in the area only began adopting within the past five years, according to Gord.

Embracing Technology

“We were one of the first to use laser-assisted grading equipment in our industry and it really raised the bar for quality in our market,” says Gord. “By 2007 we began outfitting our bulldozers with GPS systems, which didn’t really become widespread in our market until roughly 2010.”

The company’s total equipment portfolio includes 26 vehicles, ranging form pick-up trucks to tractor-trailers, three excavators, five rubber tire loaders and five bulldozers, three with GPS and two with automated laser systems. In total, Dol Turf has roughly 85 powered units. When including all the various attachments and specialized machinery, total equipment inventory would be in the range of 350 units. The team also maintains an array of specialized laser-equipped trenching equipment, which is capable of taking on even the toughest of jobs, such as cutting through solid rock when necessary.

The broad range of equipment ensures Dol Turf can execute as much of the work in-house as possible, and guarantee a final playing field worthy of champions. The team prides itself on being a one-stop solution by installing and servicing every part of an artificial or natural turf playing surface, including any underlying ancillary components, such as irrigation and drainage systems.

The company successfully added a design-build service approximately five years ago to further compliment Dol Turf’s portfolio of sports facility services. “We firmly believe that we have assembled the ultimate design-build team,” says Gord. “The team has remained committed and consistent since the company’s inception.”

“We’re very good at what we do and what we do is very specialized,” admits Gord. The company limits its focus to just the sports facilities realm, leaving supplementary components like asphalt paving, concession facility construction, sports lighting and fencing to other highly specialized professionals. In doing so, Dol Turf has managed to gain an unparalleled understanding of sports field construction techniques, which has helped the company merge as a leader in constructing rubber running tracks.

Putting Experience to Work

Dol Turf proved its prowess in 2009 when the team delivered the James Jerome Sports Complex to the City of Sudbury, Ontario. The $2.5 million project required the Dol Turf team to transform an existing sporting complex constructed in a wetland area to one with an artificial turf playing field, two high-performance natural playing fields and related amenities.

“This was one of the most challenging projects we have ever worked on,” admits Gord. “There was a hefty amount of engineering that went into this project, because we had to build on top of wetlands that were in filled.”

The team installed caissons deep underground to support the massive lights being installed. Dol Turf also installed a special drainage system beneath the field. Given the site’s exceptionally high water table, a large tank and pump system also needed to be installed. The system used various grades of stone in layers, engineered geosynthetics, and two layers of Styrofoam to protect against frost heave.

The Athletic Field Authority

Gord has also served on the board of the Sports Turf Association in various capacities since the mid-1990s, including four years as president and two years as vice president.

“During my term as the association’s president, I also chaired the committee that authored new specifications for the construction of sports fields,” says Gord. “It was necessary for the association to undertake this project, as we were noticing a number of field failures due to poor design and construction practices. We also noticed that many fields were being designed and/or built by firms without the necessary experience or background to understand how the various components work together in the field system.”

The association released the revision of the Athletic Field Construction Manual in 2012. The entire project was completed by Gord and a committee of experts, including Dr. R.W. Sheard, who is a retired professor of soil sciences for the University of Guelph.

The ultimate goal of the specification was to create a definitive resource for athletic field owners, operators, managers and builders. Gord reports many municipalities, school boards and private institutions have also adopted the guide to ensure high-quality installations.

The company celebrates 20 successful seasons in 2012, which in today’s industry is a feat of its own. Though Gord doesn’t see any evidence of a major turnaround in activity on the horizon, Canada’s relatively late coming to the artificial turf side will hopefully yield a boom of building in the years to come. Whether it is a natural or artificial turf playing field and/or rubber running track, Dol Turf Restoration Ltd. offers the experience, expertise and resources to get the job done right the first time.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Bennington Construction
W.H. Reynolds (The Bleacher Guys)