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This Week's Highlights

4 NEIA member firms have CEO’s named in this year’s Top 50 across Atlantic Canada

Text and images courtesy of Atlantic Business Magazine



Larry Puddister – Pennecon & Newcrete

Larry Puddister, a veteran of the construction industry, formally assumed the co-chairmanship of Pennecon in 2014. Today, under the man’s varied, 12-year tenure, the company has grown in revenue, geographical footprint, and employee base. When he joined Pennecon in 2004, its revenues were $92.6 million; since then, under his leadership, revenues have expanded to $347 million. It now employs some 1,100 professionals and skilled trades across Atlantic Canada.

For Puddister, leadership is about recognizing that everyone is different and that people work best when leaders appreciate this. As he says, “Some of my team members need oceans of autonomy; others need daily guidance. Some members need very clear boundaries and direction, while others thrive in a more flexible environment.”

The future, Puddister suggests, is for the bold. In 2015, Pennecon penned a strategic plan and growth strategy to help increase revenue by 50 per cent over the next five years, and 300 per cent in the next 10. “Recognizing that organic growth cannot support that goal during this economic climate,” he says, “we have pinpointed geographical expansion as the main way of achieving our plan. Never let fear get in your way.”


Brian Dalton – Altius Minerals

Brian Dalton is clear-eyed about the prospects for the mining royalty company he co-founded in 1996. The former prospector and geoscience student now leads a team with interests in 13 producing mines in Canada, including operations that produce thermal (electrical) and metallurgical coal, potash, nickel, copper, zinc, cobalt, gold and silver. Altius’ project generation “pipeline” contains a diversified portfolio of exploration stage projects and royalties, many of which benefit from various partner-funding arrangements. As he says, his job is to motivate his team members in the face of adversity.

During the current mining market downturn Dalton led Altius to acquire royalty interests in 12 producing mines that have resulted in increasing high-margin royalty revenue from $3 million to $40 million per year. “Our contrarian conviction continues to grow,” he notes, “and we will take advantage of the continuing implosion of real asset values while remaining nimble enough to switch gears when the inevitable cyclical turn happens.”

In the end, Dalton is bent towards growth. His definition of innovation can be summed up in a few, choice words: “We are brave when others are fearful, and vice-versa.” As for the future of Altius, he will settle for nothing less than “full-cycle returns” that are unrivalled anywhere in the world.


Michael Hanrahan – petroforma laboratories

Michael Hanrahan makes no bones about the fact that he wants to improve the world. The company he founded and leads specializes in laboratory services, and associated field services, to the oil and gas, mining, forestry, fisheries, food processing, and municipal government sectors throughout Atlantic Canada. In fact, petroforma laboratories is the largest commercial lab in Newfoundland and Labrador. Since its inception in 2007, the company – which employs 20 accredited scientists – has doubled in size and maintains a seven-digit payroll. Revenue growth over the past three years has hovered around 100 per cent.

Hanrahan is clear about his market niche. His lab, petrofroma, is unique. Specifically, he says, “Last year, we began offering nationally accredited drinking water quality testing in Newfoundland and Labrador for the first time since John Cabot landed on the island.” What’s more, he notes, “In 2008, we became the first laboratory east of Alberta to offer reservoir fluids testing services to support a decades’-old offshore oil and gas industry.”

For petroforma, applying good science to manage environmental oversight is just the beginning. Says Hanrahan: “I have spoken regionally and nationally on the benefits of having a culturally diverse and gender balanced workforce.” In the final analysis, he insists, Atlantic Canada’s strength relies on the diversity of its human capital.


Richard Tiller – Tiller Group of Companies

Richard Tiller runs a high-performance, professional engineering consulting firm that specializes in structural engineering, consulting services for the telecommunications, infrastructure, and energy sectors. Its services include design, analysis, project management, inspection, asset integrity solutions, design, and field reports. With 23 people in its employ, it has posted revenue growth, over the past three years, of 15 per cent. Since 1999, Tiller Group has grown to become one of the largest structural engineering companies in N.L., specializing in Tower and Telecoms, as well as Energy and Infrastructure.

Tiller says invention and creativity are foundation blocks of his company’s continued success: “Innovation is one of the strategic pillars. The company has established its ability to utilize the latest engineering software and innovative tools, while adapting to extreme, unconventional service environments.” This, naturally, will provide a key, competitive advantage in the months and years ahead.

Tiller prefers to describe his leadership approach as situational. In other words, it all depends on the needs of the team from day to day. He supports personal and professional growth as a matter of course. As he says, “Being able to succinctly describe what you want done is important. If you can’t relate your vision, you won’t be working towards the same goal.”

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