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Beginning her career at Tatham Engineering as a junior technologist, Lisa Cowan is now a project manager in the land development department.Provided

For Lisa Cowan, seeing the construction of new Tatham Engineering Limited projects in her home city of Barrie, Ont., has special significance. Her role with the civil engineering firm began in the Collingwood head office as a new college graduate. After a few years, she transferred to the Barrie office where she lives and has since become a project manager.

“It’s exciting to drive around your own community and point out all these important projects you’ve been involved with,” she says.

Tatham, which has additional Ontario offices in Bracebridge, Orillia and Ottawa, was founded 35 years ago with a distinct focus on community, says president Dan Hurley. The company largely works with small and mid-size municipalities on everything from downtown revitalization works to coastal and climate resilience projects to water and wastewater facility construction. It also works with private developers on subdivisions, commercial projects and more.

“We have a hands-on, meaningful role in the projects we undertake, directly impacting the communities where we live and work,” Hurley says. That was what initially drew him to Tatham in 1999 as a young engineer. Immediately, he was assigned to the firm’s new contract to design and build the infrastructure for the Village at Blue Mountain outside of Collingwood, now a picturesque and popular stretch of restaurants, shops and accommodations at the base of the Blue Mountain Resorts ski hill.

Tatham is entirely employee-owned, which Hurley says adds “something special to the culture of the firm. Our staff are not only involved in the projects we work on, but they’re part owners in Tatham and get to be part of its evolution.”

The company’s community spirit extends well beyond the projects it takes on. Tatham donates to over 100 local charities every year and is the primary sponsor for a golf tournament held by the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital. Tatham employees also receive paid volunteering days. In 2023, staff spent a combined 240 hours volunteering for local organizations. Volunteer activities included planting trees with the Nottawasaga Conservation Authority and removing invasive species with Georgian Bay Land Trust.

“We listen and take a lot of feedback from staff. If they come to us with an opportunity they’re passionate about and want to get involved in, we try to find a way to support them,” Hurley says.

Tatham promotes a strong company culture and brings employees together with social events like bowling, axe throwing, escape rooms and trivia nights. In addition to three companywide events each year, the company often organizes large outings to sporting events like the Blue Jays or local Ontario Hockey League team games.

And then there are the recreational activities. In the winter, groups of employees gather for curling on Wednesday nights, skiing on Thursday evenings and hockey on Friday mornings. In the warmer months, there are office soccer and volleyball leagues to join as well as hiking and biking clubs. “Our offices are in great communities with easy access to the outdoor recreation activities. Your schedule would be full if you wanted to do all the Tatham-related activities,” Hurley says with a laugh.

Cowan highlights some of the other positive changes Tatham has made over the years, including flexibility with work schedules, the introduction of a mentorship program, and a significant expansion of the benefits package.

“The leadership team has put a lot of effort into garnering feedback from staff on internal operations and employment satisfaction with the goal of improvement where necessary,” she says. “The openness to evolvement is what sets Tatham apart from other firms.”

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