Karl Yunker has always had a passion for construction, but as he developed his career, he saw the potential to change the industry for the better. The result of that vision is Pensar Construction Group, founded by Yunker at the age of 28 and based on a concept of creating quality work in a highly positive work environment.

It’s an idealistic ambition that has become a proven success: in the past three years alone, Pensar has doubled its staff numbers and revenue. Today, even more growth is on the horizon, as Pensar shows that good work and good company culture go hand in hand.

Building a positive mindset

From the outset, Pensar Construction Group was created with the intention of fostering a constructive environment to work, as well as collaborative and mutually beneficial relationships with subcontractors, suppliers and clients to develop repeat work across the board.

“Our core values are pretty old-fashioned,” says Joel Martin, GM of New Business at Pensar. “Basically they’re to be accountable, respectful, patient, flexible, and focused—it’s actually fairly simple and straightforward.” 

But those simple values represent the human element of the company. “We’re not really a company that has an arrogance or ego attached to it,” says Martin. “We’re very down to earth, focused on being good human beings doing good quality work. That’s seen us grow over the last 16 years from one person in a sublease office to 120-plus staff now, all for believing in the brand and buying into the ethos of the company.”

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Building a better workforce

A positive environment does not mean a lax environment. Pensar has high expectations for staff from the start, but the expectations are balanced, with Pensar placing a high priority on giving employees the tools and resources they need to flourish.

“We have a very rigorous recruitment process, to ensure that we’re getting the right calibre of people, but we also don’t restrict them or pigeonhole them. Where they start is not always where they finish,” says Martin.

By stressing the right fit, a strong work-life balance, and well-being activities ranging from community outreach to fitness lessons at its on-site boxing gym, Pensar strives to make its employees feel valued.

For these efforts up front, Pensar is rewarded with a hard working and loyal staff—and that is something that the company does not take for granted, especially with its burgeoning growth.

“Our short term and long term staff retention far exceeds the industry norms, because we don’t just hire people for projects and let them go when the project finishes. We’re looking to provide safe, secure and stable long-term employment,” notes Martin. “The amount of people who have worked here for five to 10 years is quite outstanding, and we have initiated endeavours to identify these people and talk about their stories. We appreciate the long tenure they’ve brought to the organization, and the ideas they’ve brought in the time they’ve worked here.”

Building community through outreach

Philanthropy is a core value close to Pensar, displayed through its commitment to its community and such charitable organizations as Traction and White Ribbon. Along with monetary donations, the company also commits time and resources to the causes it supports.

In the case of White Ribbon, this involves Pensar building awareness through its actions and social media management. For Traction, it’s dedicating office and warehouse space to the youth organization to help it scale up and more comprehensively foster its growth through coaching and mentoring.

“This comes back to that human element—Karl [Yunker] is a good human being. He likes to think and care about the community and charitable organizations,” says Martin. “Rather than just spending money on these things, we prefer to be hands-on and actually involved, and our staff find that empowering, because they can have more of a tangible impact.”

Building trust with suppliers, subcontractors and clients

Pensar Construction Group’s interest in a positive and encouraging environment also extends to its dealings with clients on one end and its suppliers and subcontractors on the other. Not interested in clinical, transactional one-off partnerships based on the lowest bids, Pensar sees value in building a partnership that lasts.

“We want to build relationships with like-minded companies that share our high professional standards, and help them grow as we grow,” says Martin. As Pensar has found, there is a simple key to building these collaborative relationships.

“The foundation of true collaboration is good communication, being open and honest and having frank discussions at the start to let people know where they stand—each stakeholder gets the opportunity to talk about what they hope to achieve,” says Martin. “Over time, it happens organically that positive relationships are formed and continue to evolve and strengthen. It doesn’t happen on day one, but we definitely try to build a rapport. We try to keep the same set of rules and create the same kind of positive collaborative relationships up and down the food chain.”

The road ahead

“We believe in karma,” says Martin. “Do good things and be generous, and good things will come back to you.”

That belief has been bolstered by Pensar’s successes, which have continued with the company’s recent diversification strategy. Now the company is entering a period of consolidation to ensure that the strategy is able to take root and survive in the long term and that risk among the divisions is well balanced.

“We will continue to grow in a slow and sustainable fashion,” says Martin, adding that the company plans to expand its staff to around 200 by the year 2020. “We’re ensuring that our building, water and power divisions are still growing and moving forward, increasing revenue and staff numbers, and are profitable so they can sustain their growth and continue to be viable businesses.” 

As Martin explains, Pensar’s growth is exciting for more reasons than just the increase in revenue that it brings. “Growth creates opportunity for the staff that work here, as well as opportunity for people to come in and bring fresh ideas and fresh energy to the company,” he says. “We’ll be tweaking the organizational structure, and that will open up new opportunities for existing staff to be promoted or move into a completely different role. We’ve already created two new roles in the organization that current staff members are moving into in the next couple of months. It’s exciting to see that play out as we speak.”

As the business continues to accentuate the positive, the sky is the limit for its success. 

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