Skip to the content

North American Construction Group History

A History of Doing Big Things

On April 13, 1953, North American Road Builders was first incorporated by two brothers, Ivan and Bob Gouin, and a single secondhand bulldozer.

For the next 20 years, North American built roads across the province and into British Columbia, while also expanding into industrial construction. The company worked on such massive infrastructure projects as Gardiner Dam and Lake Diefenbaker in southern Saskatchewan, as well as on sections of the Alaska Highway. The company also installed thousands of kilometres of small-inch pipeline to farmers across the province to deliver natural gas.

In 1973, the company made the bold decision to venture north to Fort McMurray. The world’s first large scale commercial oilsands surface mining and refining plant – the Great Canadian Oil Sands – had officially started extracting bitumen from Fort McMurray’s fertile soil in 1967, and North American saw a lot of promise in the area’s future.

Over the following years, North American continued to pave a broader path into the Wood Buffalo region – clearing land, building roads, and working hand-in-hand with the regions two major producers, Suncor and Syncrude.

Then, in 1980, North American began supplementing our fleet with larger and more complex equipment. Those investments included dozens of haul trucks, excavators, dozers, and even the world’s first Hitachi EX5500 shovel, which North American purchased in 1988.

Over the next two decades, North American continued to grow in pace with the oilsands. The company now offered a vast suite of services, including mining, heavy construction, industrial services, piling and pipeline. Using some of the largest and most technologically advanced equipment in the world, North American had transformed itself into a successful energy contractor that now helped to mine, develop, and reclaim the land.

Then in 2003, a Texas-based international investment group purchased the company for roughly $405 million dollars. It was an exciting new chapter for the 50-year old company, and on November 22nd, 2006, North American Energy Partners came into existence after the company was officially listed on both the New York and Toronto Stock Exchanges under NOA.

Over the next years, North American continued to participate in a number of major infrastructure projects with piling and pipeline.

On the piling side, North American helped construct the Richmond Speed Skating Oval for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Our crews must have had the Midas touch too, because just months later Canada would claim the Gold Medal in the Men’s Team Pursuit and the Women’s 1,000 Metre competitions. Out east, our Ontario-based piling affiliate, Drillco, also helped construct one of the city’s premiere tourist attractions — the $200 million Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, located at the base of the iconic CN Tower.

The pipeline division had a number of memorable achievements too. Working hand-in-hand with Kinder Morgan, North American installed 160-kilometres of 36-inch pipeline through Jasper National Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park, as well as the Burgess Shale UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to the challenges posed by laying pipe through terrain as formidable as the Rocky Mountains, compromises had to be made to accommodate the delicate ecology of the area.

In the end, North American completed the project ahead of schedule, and the Trans Mountain pipeline extension was recognized with an Emerald Award from the Alberta Emerald Foundation, which celebrates environmental leadership and excellence within our province.

Up in the oilsands, North American experienced substantial growth while the price of oil soared to well over $100 a barrel. The company signed numerous long-term contracts, including a massive 10-year overburden hauling agreement at CNRL that saw North American move twice the amount of earth that was hauled during the construction of the Panama Canal.

Then, on May 28th, 2012, Martin Ferron was announced as the new President of North American Energy Partners, starting a new chapter in our corporate history.

After Ferron took charge of North American in June of 2012, the company immediately implemented a series of cost cutting measures to greatly reduce our debt, and strengthen our bottom line.

Our pipeline division was sold to Macro Enterprises of Fort St. John, British Columbia, in November of 2012 for just over $16 million dollars. A short seven months later, the piling division was sold to the Keller Group for $227.5 million dollars.

Under Ferron’s leadership, North American solidified its reputation with shareholders. As well as becoming much more “shareholder friendly”, the company worked hard to achieve each financial target presented to the market. Through the hard work of our field and frontline staff, North American quickly became a safe and dependable bet for shareholders, as we continually achieved financial targets quarter-over-quarter, and proved our value as an exceptionally well-run company. However, to continue growing, it was important that North American diversify beyond the oilsands, and break new ground for the future.

On September 20, 2018, North American delivered on that goal. The company announced that it had taken a major revenue diversification step by acquiring a 49% ownership interest in Nuna Logistics Limited for $42.5 million dollars. As an established incumbent contractor in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, the acquisition would prove to be of mutual benefit to both companies through access to broader equipment fleets, experienced field personnel, and expanded services such as North American’s growing maintenance offerings.

Then, just week later, on October 3, 2018, North American announced the acquisition of Aecon’s mining fleet for $199.1 million dollars. The deal greatly expanded the size of our construction fleet, while also delivering additional valuable long-term contractual commitments to our bottom line.

In November of 2018, North American moved into its new 50,000 square foot corporate headquarters and maintenance facility in Acheson. While providing a permanent home for the fast-growing company, the move also gave us an opportunity to expand our maintenance offerings, as we continue to service and rebuild heavy equipment for external clients.

On June 9, 2020, North American announced the acquisition of Australia’s DGI Trading for $23.5 million as a strategic step in vertically integrating its capital maintenance program, as well as diversifying its service offerings. The company had long worked with North American in sourcing secondhand heavy equipment and components which our maintenance team could rebuild from the ground up.

In December of 2020, Martin Ferron resigned as CEO of North American Construction Group and took on the role of Executive Chairman. At the same time, Joe Lambert was appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer effective January 1, 2021.

Under Lambert’s experienced guidance, our rapid expansion continued in June of 2021 when North American acquired DGI Trading of Kempsey, New South Wales, Australia for $18.4 million. DGI had long worked hand-in-hand with our maintenance division in sourcing production-critical mining components that we could rebuild.

Just a few weeks later, North American was awarded the largest infrastructure project in its history. Along with our partners Acciona and Shikun & Binui, we were awarded the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion project in North Dakota—a US$2.75 billion flood diversion canal designed to protect their community from disastrous flooding. As part of a highly talented joint venture under ASN Constructors, North American will be responsible for carving out a 30-mile long flood diversion canal over a six-year period. Once completed, ASN Constructors will oversee maintenance on the canal for 30 years.

To add to our growing suite of oilsand services, North American once again acquired ML Northern in October of 2022 for $15 million. Now as well as being able to offer a wide range of maintenance services, ML Northern provides us with the ability to add mobile fuel, lube, and steaming services.

In what was probably the Company’s most transformative acquisition, North American acquired the MacKellar Group in July of 2023 for $395 million. The Australian-based provider of heavy earthworks came with a strong reputation derived from decades of reliable performance. With approximately 450 mobile heavy equipment assets, 1,000 employees—including over 375 maintenance personnel, and a solid backlog of operating projects, the acquisition vastly expanded North American’s operational footprint, and transformed us into an international entity.

Under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Joe Lambert and his executive team, North American will continue blazing a new path, searching for the right opportunities to continue growing and diversifying, while also providing safe and efficient services to all of our clients.

From a single bulldozer to an international heavy construction and mining powerhouse. What an amazing journey it has been.