Headquartered in Alberta, Canada, with a peak staff of 250 employees, Wilco Northwest is a leader in open space site development with extensive experience developing outdoor sports facilities, streetscapes, pedestrian and bike trails – most any kind of project where landscape construction and maintenance are front and center. The company owns 100 pieces of Cat® equipment with more on the way.
Wilco Northwest’s roots are in environmental sustainability. President Art Maat likes to say, “There’s a twist of green in everything we do.” The company began nearly 40 years ago in landscape construction, migrating from northern Ontario in central Canada out to Alberta – spurred by the then-booming oil economy. But the oil economy tanked almost as soon as they arrived, and the fledgling company responded by becoming a strong, hands-on entrepreneurial organization.
When asked about the company’s values, Art replied, “By nature, we are a green company. Everything we do is environmentally sensitive.”
From high-profile work on the Edmonton River Valley – Canada’s largest urban park with more than 160 kilometers (100 miles) of maintained pathways and 20 major parks – to urban landscaping to Commonwealth Stadium, home of the Edmonton Eskimos, there’s no doubt Wilco Northwest is helping build a better world. The company was instrumental in recovery from the 2016 Fort McMurray fires – causing the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta’s history.
It’s highly customized work that requires specialized skills and equipment. Wilco’s sports field work requires a high level of efficiency in grading operations, so they need the equipment and strong understanding of grading requirements to produce Olympic-grade standards. Art remarked, “We’re using quality equipment that we keep special so that the equipment runs tight. The graders and grade control system that we’re using are very good.”
Indeed, the company just purchased a new Cat UTV to mount their world-class LiDAR mobile mapping and survey equipment. They purchased the Cat brand due to the smooth ride as compared to the competition.
Accompanied by Director of Operations Cory Grismer and other team members, Art recently visited Caterpillar operations in North Carolina and Illinois, meeting with various Caterpillar employees. During the visit, the team toured factories to witness machine assembly and meet with engineers to provide product development input.
A son of Dutch immigrants who aspired to excellence, Art draws on a strong work-ethic heritage and admires the same in others. “Meeting Caterpillar employees has really de-mystified the company for me,” he remarked. “Caterpillar only exists because of the people. Yes, Caterpillar is machines and steel and iron and yellow paint. But without the people … it’s nothing without the people. The people make the company.”
Cory agreed. “It’s the pride and the passion behind the people building the machines,” he added, “They care about what’s happening with the machine. They care about the quality. And they want you to get the best product possible.”
One of the gratifying things about working in landscape construction is that the results are easy to see. Even years after completion. “I drive by jobsites all the time where you can see what we produced. It’s all above ground and growing. We are definitely building a better world,” Art said.
And Wilco Northwest relies on Cat equipment to get the job done. Cory summed it up, “It’s a three-way partnership between us and Finning and Caterpillar. It’s asset management, it’s return on investment, it’s no downtime, and it’s the resale value as well. All of these things work together.”
*The Wilco Northwest is one of four companies that comprise the umbrella corporation of the Wilco Group of Companies, including Wilco Contractors Southwest Inc. – also a valued Caterpillar customer. References to “Wilco” in this article specifically refer to Wilco Northwest, a leader in open space site development.