President and CEO, Focus Corp.
Thirty-two years ago, John Holmlund and two friends took an idea and a $20,000 loan and started HDS Focus Surveys Ltd. in Edmonton.
Today, that company is known as Focus Corp., a multi-disciplinary consulting firm that provides surveying, engineering, and project management services to clients involved in oil and gas, oilsands, infrastructure, land development, and environmental projects. The Edmonton-based firm has 1,300 employees in 18 offices across western Canada.
With the exception of his tenure as board chair in 2006-08, Holmlund has been Focus' president and CEO.
"Entrepreneurial thinking in the good times is easy," Holmlund observes. "It's in these tough times when money is tight and availability of projects is scarce that difficult decisions must be made quickly and with a purpose to ensure [that] the company remains sustainable for the long term."
Throughout his career, Holmlund has been described as a keen advocate for the surveying profession. The culture of support for professional development within the company is strongly evident.
Focus has been recognized numerous times, including as one of Alberta's Fastest Growing Companies (2002 and 2003, 2005-08); one of Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies (2002-04); winner of Work Safe Alberta Best Safety Performer Award 2004-07; one of Alberta's Top 35 Employers (2007 and 2008); one of Alberta's Top 40 Employers (2009); and one of the Best Employers for New Canadians (2009).
Focus also has a reputation for giving back to the community. For example, Golf For Kids, which Focus co-hosts, has raised more than $1.5 million to date for child-oriented organizations.
Holmlund, too, is no stranger to giving back-either of his time or his money. In addition to volunteer work, in 2008 the Holmlund family donated $500,000 to the University of Calgary's Department of Geomatics Engineering to launch the Holmlund Research Chair in Land Tenure and Cadastral Studies.
This past June, the university conferred an honourary Doctor of Laws degree on Holmlund to recognize his contribution to business in Alberta.