TBT Engineering Limited’s roots trace all the way back to 1968 when a gentleman by the name of Aldo Martinuzzi opened up a small construction materials and analytical testing laboratory in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
He continued operating until 1985 when he kept the analytical laboratory and sold the material testing laboratory to Conrad Hagstrom. Aldo’s legacy is still operating as ALS Laboratories on Barton Street in Thunder Bay. Aldo and Conrad’s legacy is also still operating, now as TBT Engineering. The TBT Engineering logo was originally designed by Aldo at his kitchen table with his wife’s assistance. It is symbolic of concrete compression testing in the lab where the two “T’s” are compressing the “B”.
In 1994, a young engineer and aspiring entrepreneur named Rob Frenette was working on a septic design and decided to bring a soil sample to Thunder Bay Testing. Rob got his results back and also an unexpected offer to go for lunch.
Hagstrom then asked if Rob was interested in buying the business. Rob said, “It was one of those things that happen in life. You don’t see it coming and sometimes it’s good to be blindsided.”
But giving up a secure government job to take a leap as a full-time entrepreneur required some careful thought and much discussion with his wife Liana since she would be involved as well. They had three young children at the time and Liana had taken a leave from teaching to be home with the children. Rob and Liana felt the company was a “diamond in the rough” and never regretted taking the leap, though the early years provided their fair share of stress and steep learning curves.
“We went from buying the company and not knowing exactly what we were getting ourselves into, to hiring additional personnel to meet demand, training them to be effective, and establishing schedules to create efficiency” says Frenette.
From the very beginning, the company began to grow organically through new customers. Rob and Liana developed a first class reputation for quality materials testing and dedicated, down to earth customer service.
As the company grew, Rob and Liana recognized that many of Thunder Bay Testing’s clients were in need of “one stop shopping” when it came to engineering and related technical services. The husband and wife team created a vision for the company which included service diversification via the introduction of engineering and related consulting services. That vision has not wavered to this day.
Since the late 90s, the company has followed a strategic growth strategy that has resulted in service diversification across a wide range of civil and related consulting engineering disciplines.
As the company’s diversification strategy has crystallized, so too has its identity. Thunder Bay Testing became known as Thunder Bay Testing and Engineering in 1997 and later became TBT Engineering Limited (TBTE) in 2009. The change in 2009 cemented the fact that TBTE was no longer just a testing laboratory, and no longer served clients only in Thunder Bay.
In essence, the company has successfully become “one-stop shopping” for clients, who can now deal with a firm that is fully equipped to undertake a project from inception through to construction.
"We'll work with a client from the initial planning through preliminary and detail design; performing all of the necessary investigations, studies and reports, then tender a contract and administer it during construction including all the material testing to ensure proper quality standards have been achieved,” says Liana Frenette. “Our comprehensive service offerings reduce the inherent inefficiencies and additional costs that can result whenever multiple consulting firms are required on a project.”
Guided by the philosophy "Doing things right has never done us wrong,” TBTE continues to grow – not only in terms of service capacity, but also human resources. The company has grown from the two technicians it started out with in 1995 to over 100 current full-time technical and professional staff, which includes; engineers, geologists, scientists, biologists, surveyors, technologists, technicians and drillers.
TBT Engineering strongly values a corporate culture that is fun and safety-conscious for all employees. "This success doesn't really belong to me but rather to the women and men who have worked side by side with me with the same goal of creating a company where we want to be, where we have fun, where we collectively believe in providing exceptional service and where we care about each other and the community," says Liana.
Indeed, whether its fostering employee creativity or ensuring a project team goes the extra mile for a client, TBT Engineering has worked hard to build a first-rate reputation with its stakeholders over the years.
"It's really hard to build a good reputation and it is easy to lose it," says Rob. "TBT Engineering goes the extra mile every day to do things right for our clients, our employees, and the communities in which we all live, work and play”.
TBT Engineering (TBTE) is committed to providing opportunities to Aboriginal communities to assist with economic development and community capacity building and wellness through the employment of Aboriginal peoples and support for development of Aboriginal businesses.
Procurement from Aboriginal communities involves relationship building and sustained partnership development.
TBTE currently participates with Aboriginal communities through formal business ventures, partnerships, Memorandums of Understanding and informal partnerships.
TBTE requires that company directors, managers and employees as well as subcontractors and service providers
To provide our clients with exceptional service and innovative solutions through an emphasis on quality, integrity, safety, cost-effectiveness, responsiveness, and timeliness. Our employees will be client-dedicated, environmentally sensitive and uphold the highest professional standards in the practice of engineering, earth and environmental sciences, technical services and land surveyors.
To be service leaders in the communities where we work by providing exceptional service to our clients and providing satisfying careers for our employees through integrity, hard work, accountability and honesty in a collaborative and solution orientated environment.
Client Satisfaction: Our clients are our most important company asset and we are committed to servicing their needs. We are dedicated to not only achieving, but exceeding client expectations.
Employee Satisfaction: Our company's most important and valued resource is our experienced and trained professional, technical and support staff.
Relationships: We have positive, long-term relationships with our customers, joint-venture partners, business partners, subcontractors, suppliers, and colleagues that are built on trust, respect, and collaboration.
Professional & Ethical Integrity: We employ the highest level of professional and ethical standards and believe that our projects reflect who we are as a company. In providing professional services, we are dedicated to competence, honesty, fairness, dependability and excellence.
Quality: We are committed to striving for excellence and to doing it right the first time. Our reputation stands on our delivered services to every client and every community we serve.
Social Responsibility: We are committed to making a positive contribution to the well being of our staff and the communities in which we operate and to assist in improving the quality of life in communities where we work by respecting local cultures, engaging local people, and protecting the environment.
Our Environment: We actively build a diverse, inclusive, and collaborative work environment where all views are welcome, respect is the norm, openness is encouraged, and teamwork and merit are cornerstones. We are proud of what we do and how we do it and we enjoy doing it.
Our People: We inspire each other with important work full of purpose, challenging development opportunities, and rewarding careers. We aspire to be the employer of choice in our industry.
Our Teams: We know that teams produce superior results over what one can do as an individual.We believe that an open culture characterized by mutual respect, sharing of ideas and a commitment to common goals contributes to the overall productivity of our firm. Our philosophy is that each team member plays an important role in our company by providing individual expertise and a distinctive perspective to each project that they are involved in. We openly share relevant information and contribute to the success of others by helping others solve problems, meet deadlines and work efficiently. We ask for and welcome assistance and guidance and offer and give it freely.
Our Efficiency & Improvement: We remain accountable to our clients for the efficient execution of any project. We will work to identify and execute cost savings and improvements wherever we can. We will continuously look for ways to improve our services by ensuring the latest technology, training, education and research.
Our Safety & Health: We are relentless in keeping people safe from harm, and we continuously strive to provide and improve our healthy and safe work environment. We understand that safety is everyone’s responsibility and we commit to look out for each other in all work environments. We are committed to ensuring a healthy workplace for physical as well as mental health.
Our Respect: Everyone feels important and contributes and we make no distinction based on position. Everyone recognizes the uniqueness of each individual. We treat people with respect and dignity. We listen actively. We communicate in a timely and forthright manner. We never undermine colleagues.
Our Trust: Everyone will do what is best for the client, each other and the company. Everyone takes commitments responsibly and always keep their word. Everyone will perform their jobs, be accountable and demonstrate openness and honesty in coworker and business relationships.
Our Competitive Advantage: We place a high priority on time and deliver work on time to both internal and external clients. We work to reduce time required to perform tasks by removing needless steps. We act in a timely fashion to accomplish our goals and meet commitments in a professional manner. We respond to questions and issues immediately or as soon as appropriate information is available.
TBT Engineering is proud to be an active community partner, making a positive difference in the lives of people and families where we do business. A stronger, healthier and happier community is something that benefits all of us! We look forward to continuing our active role in many community projects and initiatives.
Here are some of the organizations we are working with: