For some companies, “quality” is just a buzzword. But for general contractor GS Holdings, “quality” has been at the heart of the company for 40 years. It not only describes the company’s work but also the equipment it chooses to use – Hitachi excavators.
Headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, GS Holdings specializes in water and sewer infrastructure, and offers a full range of services for municipal/civil construction, including infrastructure rehabilitation, new construction, land development, construction management and design-build.
“My father, Glen Sandwith, started the company in 1974, and we’ve worked hard to grow and be where we are today,” said Terran Sandwith, president of GS Holdings. “He built the company based on his DNA – quality, integrity and hard work. That is our foundation, and we continue to focus on those things today.”
Terran Sandwith joined GS Holdings in 2003 after a professional hockey-playing career, and took his teamwork mentality from the ice to the jobsite.
“Teamwork is one of our company’s core values,” he said. “We focus on finding good people and training them. We encourage feedback from everyone – from laborers to managers – and incorporate good ideas. We all try to help each other out, and our crews work together as a team.”
Sending a statement with Hitachi
If GS Holdings is on the job, there’s a good chance you’ll see a Hitachi excavator working. Sandwith is proud of this visibility.
“Within the industry, Hitachi has a great reputation,” he said. “When you use new equipment, especially something high-end such as Hitachi, it sends a statement about the quality of the work being done. People notice that.”
The company currently runs a fleet of 10 Hitachi excavators, ranging from the ZX85USB-5 to its newest purchase, the ZX670LC-5.
“Since I’ve been with the company, we’ve used Hitachi,” Sandwith said. “It’s always been reliable, quality equipment. We’ve bought used and new, and have had few problems. Also, the resale value for the equipment is high.”
The new ZX670LC-5 was quickly put to work on a residential development water- and sewer-pipeline installation. And Howard Heppner, GS Holdings operator, is happy with its performance.
“I’ve been an operator for 36 years, and I prefer Hitachi,” Heppner said. “The 670 is fast for its size. It has all the power I need, and the controls are smooth and responsive.”
The company also keeps Hitachi reduced-tail-swing excavators, like the ZX85USB-5 and the ZX135US-5, busy working on water main replacement and relocation projects throughout the year for EPCOR Utilities, the City of Edmonton’s utility company.
“We do multiple projects for EPCOR within the city each year,” Sandwith said. “With Hitachi excavators, we’re able to get into tight areas required for some of the jobs, like working three feet off a fence line.”
Building relationships and a reputation
Throughout the years, GS Holdings has focused on doing quality work, standing behind it and working as partners with engineering firms, municipalities, government agencies, developers, subcontractors and vendors – and the work has paid off.
“It’s all about reputation,” Sandwith said. “For years, we were thought of as a small company that only did municipal work but had an excellent reputation for quality and integrity. We’ve grown and expanded into more residential, commercial and industrial development work, and our number-one priority is maintaining that reputation.”
GS Holdings also has a solid relationship with Wajax Equipment, its Hitachi dealer for about 15 years.
“We’ve worked with Wajax for a long time and have a trusting relationship with them,” Sandwith said. “They’re dependable and provide good service and parts. We look at them as one of our partners.”
Coming full circle
Even though GS Holdings has grown, the company honors its history by maintaining its core values and small business atmosphere.
“Although the industry has changed, especially with technology, we’ve kept my father’s values within the company,” Sandwith said. “We still stand on our reputation and quality of work. The reason we can do that is our employees. From our managers, to our foreman, to the field personnel, everyone takes pride in what they do and in upholding our company values. I am very proud to be a part of it.”
GS Holdings celebrated its 40th anniversary in June 2014, and it fearlessly forges ahead while respecting the past.
“My father’s first project for this company was in the Town of Hinton,” Sandwith said. “Now 40 years later, our crews are back out there. You could say it’s come full circle.”
GS Holdings is serviced by Wajax Equipment, Edmonton, Alberta.