Movers & Shakers 2010: Don Pearson, president and COO of Stuart Olson Dominion Construction

He sees opportunity even when times are shaky

With over 30 years in the industry, he's done a bit of everything, from structural engineering, estimating and project management to operations management and project development. Now, as president and COO of Stuart Olson Dominion Construction Ltd., he's intent on building a better organization with a strong presence in the western Canadian market.

Pearson, appointed president of Stuart Olson Construction last year, has played and continues to play a major role in the integration of Stuart Olson and Dominion Construction. That's led to new challenges.

"I think the biggest challenge is that [focusing on the integration and planning for the future process of continuing the integration] certainly takes your focus away from everyday business at Stuart Olson," he says. Having good people in place to handle the day-to-day aspects of the business is key to his ability to lead the company through the transition.

His everyday responsibilities have also increased. Stuart Olson Dominion has double the number of employees and triple the number of projects of Stuart Olson. Additionally, the company's volume has increased by two-thirds and Pearson now oversees 11 branches instead of 5.

While the economic slowdown is typically seen as a negative, Pearson says the fact that the merger took place in a slower period has been beneficial. "The time that you want to change and retool and reorganize is not when you're going 100 mph in a boom economy," he explains.

Marketing and performance synergies are already developing from the mix of strengths offered by the two companies that now make up Stuart Olson Dominion. Dominion's presence in the private sector and bidding know-how adds to the company's capabilities, just as Stuart Olson's experience in construction management and public-private partnership projects will be a boon.

As he continues to build a cohesive new company, Pearson also looks forward to helping talented young people build satisfying careers. Motivated by helping others succeed, he gets the most pleasure out of knowing he's made a difference to individuals, the company he leads, and the industry as a whole.

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