Campbell Construction marks 50 years of building Victoria landmarks

In the 50 years since Campbell Construction was founded, the company has built many of the capital region’s well-known buildings. And as the region grows and evolves — weathering tough economic times along the way — Campbell continues to roll out the landmarks.

In the past decade alone, the company has purchased hundreds of millions of dollars worth of supplies in Greater Victoria, general manager Wayne Farey said Friday.

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Hundreds of apprentices have been trained, Farey said, adding employees “have worked really hard for us [and] we appreciate them all.”

There are currently 160 on Campbell’s payroll. That number can rise to 350 during peaks. Projects underway include Jawl Properties’ mixed-use building on Jutland Road, Concert Properties’ Era condominium on Yates Street, the University of Victoria’s Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities, and a heritage renovation and addition at Shawnigan Lake School.

The company’s projects are as varied as their uses. Campbell restored St. Ann’s Academy, a National Historic Site, on Humboldt Street. “We built a new building inside the existing building. A lot of people don’t know that,” said Ken Farey, one of the company’s founders and Wayne’s father.

Others jobs include Saanich Commonwealth Place, the Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour Hotel, and Concert Properties’ Astoria and Belvedere condominium projects in the Humboldt Valley. As UVic developed, Campbell put up many of its buildings. Schools throughout the capital region have also been built by the company.

A recent jewel is the Atrium building downtown, housing B.C. Ferries’ headquarters.

Developer Robert Jawl said: “We have completed numerous construction projects with Campbell over the years and we have been consistently impressed with the quality of work that they do and the way in which they conduct their business.

“They produce top-quality work and we’ve been very fortunate to have them on board for some of our more complicated projects.”

Building science and engineering have become increasingly complex in recent years, Jawl said. “It is a testament to Campbell’s abilities that they have continued to evolve and grow their skill sets to be able to execute these complex projects and bring truly world-class construction resources to bear here in Victoria.”

Campbell Construction was founded by the late Bill Campbell, its first president, his son Archie, now 74, and Ken Farey, now 77. All journeymen carpenters, they had worked at Luney Bros. and Hamilton, which was sold. They then launched in 1964 what was at first named W. Campbell Ltd.

“My father and my mother took their life savings and started the company,” Archie Campbell said. Some things don’t change in the construction industry. “There was always a lot of competition,” he said.

Wayne, 52, said, “Over the years, we have just developed a relationship and a name for quality and getting jobs done on time.” Many clients are repeat customers.

Archie Campbell is retired while Ken Farey, who became president in 1976, is in the office frequently. “We’re in touch all the time,” Ken said. Wayne adds with a smile, “We are basically lunch partners.”

Wayne’s three children work for the company. His two sons follow the family tradition — one is a journeyman carpenter serving as a foreman and the other is an apprentice carpenter. His daughter takes care of the payroll.

The bulk of the company’s work is in the capital region, although projects have been completed in Nanaimo and Tofino and a work-camp job is underway in Kitimat.

Greg Baynton, chief executive of the Island Construction Association, said Campbell Construction, along with other local firms, thrives even as national and multinational firms have started to compete for work in this region.

Through the decades, Campbell has shown a “consistent application of traditional values that include quality, reliability, service and value,” Baynton said.

“Campbell Construction has achieved this, in my view, by investing and nurturing expertise and professionalism with their company team, effective management control systems that are time-tested, and through sound relationships with their sub-trades, suppliers and unions that are built on respect,” he said.

Other long-standing local construction firms include the Farmer Group, in its 63rd year; Kinetic Construction at 30 years; and Knappett Projects Inc., at 29 years.

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