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March 02, 2017

Let’s Grab a Coffee with Tim Loo and George Sawatzky

For this segment of “Let’s Grab a Coffee”, two of our co-founders, George Sawatzky (Principal) and Tim Loo (Principal), interview each other to shared industry insights and their experience working at Omicron over the last 18 years.

George: Why did you decide to start an integrated firm?

Tim: After you, Cam and I had our breakfast at Denny’s 18 years ago I realized the worst that could happen is that we would be looking for work in a year. We decided to build an integrated firm to serve the clients we worked with for the first 20 years of our career. And here we are, 18 years later, as a Canada’s Best Managed Companies Platinum Club member.

Tim: Omicron’s promise is “A Better Way” – how would you describe what this means in practice for a Client?

George: Our promise is that we will understand our Client’s needs on all levels, aesthetic, cost, schedule and provide the best process and solutions to achieve these objectives. When we consistently deliver on this promise we develop a high level of trust that leads to long term relationships.

George: Why did you decide to pursue engineering as a career?

Tim: As a child, I developed an interest in buildings from playing with wooden blocks. This interest turned into a passion as I went through my post-secondary education and developed into a career.

Tim: What project are you most proud of and why?

George: It’s difficult to choose only one project so here are my top two:

  1. The Nordstrom projects in Calgary and flagship store in Vancouver were a once in a lifetime opportunity to build high end retail projects in signature locations. Both projects were complex in nature, requiring thousands of man hours to complete on challenging timelines.
  2. Recently we completed two Stong’s Market (Stong’s) stores. This Vancouver-based, family-owned retailer, now in its fifth generation had not built a new store in over 50 years. We worked collaboratively with Stong’s over a four-year period through the re-branding, due diligence, leasing, store design, merchandising and construction.

George: What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into the development services / architecture / engineering / interior design / construction industry?

Tim: There are three things you need to get started and be successful in this industry:

  1. A good education. Here’s a list of post-secondary institutions with strong programs for the different industries listed above:
    • Development Services: UBC, BCIT
    • Architecture: UBC, University of Toronto, McGill, Université de Montréal, University of Waterloo
    • Engineering: UBC, Simon Fraser University, McGill University, University of Toronto
    • Interior Design: Kwantlen Polytechnic University, BCIT, Ryerson University
    • Construction Management: BCIT, UBC, University of Alberta
  2. Choose an area of the business you’re interested in (real estate development, architecture, engineering, interior design, construction, marketing, business development, human resources).
  3. Gain experience working on as many building forms as possible (commercial, residential, institutional).

Tim: What are you most excited about for the year ahead?

George: I’m excited to move ahead with our Sidney Crossing development. This is a great opportunity to deliver a development using our full suite of services: development, architecture, engineering and construction.

George: What new and exciting projects are you working on?

Tim: We have a new development project in Railtown that we acquired earlier this year. We’re very excited to be doing another development in Vancouver.

What has it been like to work together for 25 years?

George: I spend more time with Tim than my wife, which means I can finish Tim’s sentences. We both have different approaches that complement the business.

Tim: Great – lots of fun. George makes me laugh.