Constructive Conversations #5: John Bockstael of Manitoba’s Bockstael Construction
CEO of one of Winnipeg’s most prominent construction companies, John Bockstael knows a thing or two about the construction business. Bockstael is a fourth-generation construction company that has been a staple of the community for over a century with plans to continue through the next 100 years. The groundwork is already being laid as John’s children are heavily involved in the family business, which is no surprise since he believes the best part of being in his industry is “helping the next up-and-coming participants in the industry by teaching them proper discipline and ways to approach the industry.”
It’s no secret who John’s mentor was, as he speaks highly of his father who helped him learn the value of hard work and taught the importance of being involved in meaningful projects. John obviously embodies a sense of community as he openly admits that his “favourite projects are projects that are of meaning to the community.” He elaborated by saying that “he likes anything that improves society and improves the availability of jobs.”
Bockstael was founded by John’s grandfather who was an immigrant to Canada. He left Belgium in 1907 and then after starting a career invited the family over to the country in 1911. In 1912 his construction business was officially incorporated and well on its way towards success helping to create building infrastructure across Western Canada, grain elevators, and railway structures.
Today the jobs Bockstael construction projects take on look a little different, but the spirit of community continues. In fact, the reason his father passed the company onto John and his brothers was because he was ready to get involved in Federal politics so he could create change for Winnipeg.
John mentions that these days the focus of construction has shifted and one reason they have continued to be successful is that they grow alongside the needs of the market and their clients. He explained it best by stating “it is really important for us to grow with our clients.” Every time a client expands, they have the opportunity to come back and build or expand the supporting infrastructure so looking out for the community is good for everyone.
John has his eye on the future and acknowledges there will be some challenges but they are ready to take them on. One of his big concerns is figuring out which software they need to invest in as technology and engineering is becoming an integral part of the field. He jokingly commented that he always “fears of going broke buying too many pieces of software.” Like many in the construction field, he also is aware of the issues surrounding finding new talent, but he thinks that with enough people out there working hard to inspire new kids they will find the “Champions within our ranks.”