Chris Gower says his parents had one rule he and his brother were expected to live up to.
"My mom said, 'I don't care what you do. Just love it,' " he recalls. "They absolutely didn't care if I became a doctor, or a construction worker. The job was irrelevant. What mattered was, did I like it."
What Mr. Gower loved most was swinging a hammer.
"I started off framing houses with my brother in high school," he says. "What I've always loved about the industry is that at the end of the day you get to leave a piece of yourself behind in every project you build. There's something special in that."
Mr. Gower graduated from Fanshawe College in London, Ont., in 1992 with a diploma in Construction Engineering Technology (Management).
He joined PCL Constructors three years later, becoming a district manager by the time he was 31.
"That was pretty scary," he says of being sent to cut his managerial teeth in Saskatchewan, where PCL was founded in 1906.
"I just wanted to make sure I didn't go out to Saskatchewan and screw up a perfectly good legacy," Mr. Gower says. "I was told to just listen and learn."
He did, and, while he no longer gets to spend as much time as he'd like on job sites, Mr. Gower says running a $1.3-billion dollar operation as a regional vice-president has other challenges and rewards.
"I'm currently involved in starting up a new operation in Australia. That is another interesting aspect of the job where I get to learn all about Australia and doing work in the Pacific Rim. So this business never stays the same. It's always different."
Mr. Gower lives with his wife and two children, a 10-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter, in Oakville, Ont.
And he says he still finds ways to ensure he - and other PCL employees - give a piece of themselves to their community.
"In Toronto, we have over 400 employees. We put them in teams of 30-35 people then go out and we'll build a home for Habitat for Humanity or we'll clean up garbage or help with a fund-raising event. It's all about giving back time and labour and manpower rather than money. We simply facilitate it by giving them a day off."