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Peer reviews and mentoring at AME are at the core of its culture.Provided

When Stephen Timlin arrived in Calgary in 2014, the Irish mechanical engineer interviewed with plenty of engineering companies. But AME Group stood out from the rest. The B.C.-based mechanical engineering consulting firm was almost as new to the Calgary market as Timlin was, and he saw the opportunity to build something.

“I got in at the ground floor. With something so new, you can have a genuine impact,” says Timlin, noting he was one of AME’s first hires in the city. Within 10 years, Timlin climbed the ladder from project manager up to principal. “They gave me everything I needed. I’m an ambitious person, and they gave me the opportunity to grow with them.”

Another draw was AME’s commitment to quality work and client satisfaction – something that has remained a constant over the past 10 years. “Everyone is on the same page and has the same vision for the company,” he says. “I’m dedicated to making people happy, and that is a shared mentality within our teams.”

Rob Walter, AME’s managing director and founder, says the commitment to superior quality work is part of the firm’s mission statement, Building Legacy. Another part is employee ownership.

After leaving a large engineering company that had just been acquired by another major, Walter wanted AME to have staying power, and for employees to feel committed to its success. AME sold shares to employees very early on, and to date, 50 per cent are shareholders. As part of the firm’s succession planning, AME’s leadership also begin selling off their shares at age 55 to give future leaders the time and financial ability to buy in.

“We want to have this company succeed generation after generation,” says Walter. “And as shareholders, they have an invested interest in the success of the company.”

As AME has grown, its culture has evolved. In the past five years, AME revamped its KPIs to focus on product quality, happy and engaged employees, and social and environmental responsibility. The firm now has regular employee surveys, five employee-led resource groups that provide direction to the company on its culture, and smaller teams to encourage leadership opportunities. “We have a very collaborative leadership group, and that energy funnels down to employees,” he says.

It also introduced the AME Gives Back program, in which employees raise funds for causes they care about, and the company provides a matching donation.

The efforts to build a legacy are bearing fruit. In the firm’s early years, an annual backyard barbecue at Walter’s home was a small group – just the four founding partners and a handful of employees. Nearly 20 years later, the ranks have significantly swelled: AME rented space at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus last year to accommodate its more than 170 employees and their families. Victoria, Edmonton, and Calgary employees were flown in.

“It’s changed in a very positive way. Some employees that have been with me right from day one, now their kids are coming to these events,” Walter says.

Timlin says the barbecue is a major highlight and has given him the opportunity to strengthen his ties with co-workers across the company.

“It’s a stronger base for the company and the team if you’re invested beyond the day-to-day projects and work,” he says. “You feel more connected.”

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Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.

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