Movers & Shakers 2010: Art Maat, president of Wilco Contractors Northwest

He's moving to solve problems with a diversity of businesses

You'd think Art Maat has enough to do as president of Wilco Contractors Northwest Inc., part of the Wilco Group of Companies, in Edmonton. This year, the company finished the $2.5-million Commonwealth Stadium artificial turf project and is in the midst of a $10-million multi-sports project, as well as some major infrastructure landscaping projects.

But Maat owns three other businesses servicing the green industry: Erscon Canada Inc., an erosion and sediment control practices company; Super Grip Canada Inc., providing high-quality industrial tires; and now HisTREE.net Inc., a web-based start-up specializing in information tracking systems for trees and low-cost assets that can be used by nurseries, wholesale suppliers, contractors, and parks and urban forest custodians to manage inventory, tree maintenance, scheduling and industry trade processes.

"It's sideways diversification," Maat explains. "I've been exposed to every sector of the tree industry for 30 years. I'm not a software company telling the industry they need to do this. I am within the industry and I see that there is a need."

HisTREE.net is a response to the need for unique identification of trees in order to authenticate certification.

Using Radio Frequency Identification and GPS mapping, the company provides a means to document the history of individual trees and allows for the continuous collection of information about the tree for better management. There's also an online trade centre that eliminates the time-consuming process of communicating inventory levels to buyers.

"I view myself as a problem solver and solutions provider," Maat says. "Wilco seeks out difficult jobs and works with consultants and owners to provide unique solutions, and I have that mentality with everything. You wouldn't think that software is a green industry product, but I'm providing a solution."

He also believes in the power of technology, incorporating advancements in his businesses to increase efficiency.

"I believe in empowering my staff, giving them the tools, capability, responsibility and accountability to do their jobs," he says. "Everything we accomplish is done with heavy reliance on and expectation of the dedicated and close-knit staff. I could not do any of this without the very good people who work with me."


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