Oct 26, 2021
9:55 am

Lessons Learned Over 30 Years (Part 1)

design architecture

Thirty years ago, a small group of Calgary engineering and design professionals were presented with a significant, yet daunting opportunity. They were asked, “Would you be interested in putting together a company to handle all engineering, drafting, and design work for Petro Canada’s regional retail service stations and bulk plants?”

As former Petro Canada employees, the small but determined team of five knew the work inside out and jumped at the opportunity. Today, Petro Canada remains one of many valued clients who count on CTM for excellence in engineering, design, and architecture.

So much has changed since those early days. Across the industry, and right here at CTM.

We spoke with several members of the current CTM team to get their thoughts on the biggest, most profound differences in the way we did business then and today.

Paralleling Changes Across the Industry

Brett Zufelt

When CTM started out in 1991, the industry was just beginning to move from full-service stations with attendants to a self-service model. Back then, canopies were the exception, not the rule. I also clearly remember when gasoline prices first rose to a dollar/litre. Most digital (and manual) signs couldn’t accommodate the extra digit (eg. 100.3 vs 99.3), so there was a sudden panic to replace signage.

In the 1990s, service stations began exploring ancillary offerings, most notably, convenience stores. Around the same time, new municipal regulations restricted people from washing cars in the driveway to keep soap out of the drains – further opening the door for commercial car washes. Then came hot food offerings and partnerships with in-store quick-service restaurants.

As these changes occurred, CTM has evolved with the industry, and expanded our expertise.

We went from a 100% petroleum focus to a point today where approximately half of our business involves QSR and retail design for national brands.

That being said, independent owners/operators are a significant part of our business. We have been extremely proud to offer them the same attention and exceptional service as we provide our corporate clients.

Embracing New Technologies

Jonathan Paul, PMP, CET
Project Manager

Drafting technology is consistently evolving and improving. For instance, the year I enrolled at SAIT as a structural draftsman was the first semester that they stopped teaching drafting by hand and trained exclusively with 2D drafting software. The year after graduation, 3D Building Information Modelling (BIM) drafting software made its debut into the curriculum and is now one of the primary tools in our industry. 

While working on real-world projects, I learned BIM on the fly. I discovered it can be used to not only create the models in 3D for coordination but also produce the 2D drawings we still use for permitting and construction.  

CTM just recently purchased a 3D camera system called Matterport. It’s amazing. It allows you to take intelligent as-built scans of an existing site, and capture all measurements, data points and photos – which can then be exported to the BIM system. It’s incredibly accurate, eliminates the need to put pen to paper. This reduces the time you need to spend on-site and is just another example of adaptation in our industry.

Between AutoCAD, BIM, and Matterport, that’s three drafting technologies CTM has adopted over the past 30 years! Fortunately, most of us in this industry are techies at heart and jump at the chance to work with the latest and most innovative tools.

Creating Elevated Customer Experiences

Nicole Sarioglu, NCIDQ
Senior Designer

In my 10 years with CTM as an interior designer and architectural technician, I think today’s customers have higher expectations. There is increased pressure to create spaces that customers want to be in, and a push to provide the best amenities possible. Convenience stores are no longer a place where you get gas and chips then leave. Many want to compete with coffee shops and have people stay.

Today, many clients are opting for higher-end, modern finishes to create a more welcoming customer experience. Gone are the days of laminate countertops, simple tile flooring, and slat walls. Today’s convenience stores have quartz countertops, high-end tile backsplashes, wood features on bulkheads and flooring, and upscale lighting. Recent examples that have been completed are Husky Banff, Gas King in Medicine Hat, and PR Petroleum in Kelowna.

Exciting changes ahead

There will be monumental shifts in the years ahead. In the short term, we’re waiting to see what the post-pandemic recovery will look like. On a grander scale is the inevitable transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles (EVs) and other forms of propulsion. This will be significant for the industry, CTM, and society as a whole. We’re already busy installing EV charging stations for clients.

If we’ve learned one thing over the past 30 years, it is that change is a constant.

Read part 2 here.

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