At Wesgroup, we believe that the best work is based on an essential – but often overlooked – skill. Listening. So, whether we’re meeting with clients, hosting a public consultation forum, or discussing a current project with key suppliers, we arrive with one goal in mind – to hear, and understand, the other parties’ perspective, needs and objectives.

In fall 2004, we took on a project whose success hinged on our ability to listen – the design and construction of a state-of-the-art purchasing/distribution/warehousing facility for the Fraser Health Authority.

One of Canada’s largest and fastest growing health authorities, Fraser Health provides a wide range of integrated health care services to approximately 1.5 million people living in communities stretching from Burnaby to White Rock to Hope. It manages a budget of $1.8 billion, with 22,500 employees, 4,000 volunteers and 2,200 physicians providing services.

In 2004, facilities throughout the Fraser Health region supported 12 acute care hospitals and numerous health units, individually ordering, storing and distributing medical supplies such as pharmaceuticals, liquid prescriptions, and dry goods, and providing administrative services. To streamline and standardize these internal processes (and dramatically reduce operating costs) the decision was made to consolidate the myriad functions in a single, strategically located building – the Fraser Health Shared Services Facility.

Through discussions with the health authority’s key decision-makers, we knew that the timeline for delivering the new facility was going to be tight. So, we started work on the preliminary site and building design (at our sole cost and risk) three months before winning the related Request for Proposal on November 14, 2004. We also initiated a three-part permit approvals process with the Township of Langley early on, synchronizing building permit approvals and construction schedules with Lease Agreement delivery dates.

The drive to respond to the health authority’s specific (and highly technical) needs continued throughout the design and construction phases, with Wesgroup conducting weekly sessions with 12 different Fraser Health User Groups to pinpoint its precise requirements. As the construction of the building progressed, we also held weekly, and then bi-weekly, on-site meetings with main stakeholders to ensure the facility would function exactly as required.

On November 15, 2005, Wesgroup delivered the project’s first 83,000 square feet, including the Warehouse Distribution area and Clean Room. Ten weeks later, the site balance (30,024 square feet) was completed, including the facility’s administration offices, amenities, and internal expansion area.

Today, the Fraser Health Support Services Facility is generating exceptional return on investment, through centralized staff, improved inventory management, and savings related to bulk buying efficiencies. Moving the majority of storage and distribution functions to Langley also frees up about 50,000 square feet of space at various hospitals – space that can now be used for other health care and clinical programs.

The real proof of success? Only two years after the facility’s full occupancy, expansion plans presented in the initial site and building design began construction and were completed in 2011. This expansion added 65,000 square feet in additional warehousing and distribution facilities.