50th Anniversary Timeline
PNR RailWorks observed its 50th anniversary in 2011. Festivities throughout the year celebrated the company's founding and its rich heritage and tradition established over 50 years. Here are some key milestones in our history, starting in 1961 when the company was founded by George Braun in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
George Braun, Sr., establishes the railway construction firm in September as a sole proprietorship. George received a $5,000 advance from his first customer, Vancouver Rolling Mills (later known as Western Canada Steel), to buy a truck and start his business.
Oldest son Henry Braun recalls typing bid quotations as early as age twelve on the dining room table in the family home, which served as the corporate office in the early years.
The proprietorship is incorporated as G. Brown Contracting Ltd. George Braun selects the name “Brown” rather than “Braun” when the Corporate Registry in British Columbia advises there already is a company registered in Prince George with the name of G. Braun Contracting Ltd. Shortly after incorporation, Braun sells 50 percent of the shares of G. Brown Contracting Ltd. to his brother-in-law Peter Siemens.
The company wins its first big job, a one-year contract with BC Hydro, a British Columbia public utility that operates a regional railway. Up to 60 employees work on BC Hydro Railway, which serves the Fraser Valley from New Westminster to Chilliwack.
The company operates from George Braun’s family home until 1965, when it relocates to a one-acre site acquired in Clearbrook, British Columbia, which later becomes part of Abbotsford. Formerly a BA gas station, the building features an office and two bays used as a shop for equipment repairs. The site also provides an area for a storage yard.
Henry Braun tries out a Michigan Loader and convinces his father George and the field supervisor that the equipment could help save on labor costs. Before the acquisition of this first, large piece of equipment, all work was completed with pick and shovel or other hand tools.
The company purchases its first mechanical tamper, Unit 601, known as “Old Suzie.” It is retired from the fleet in 2006 and sold in 2008.
The company outgrows its facility and constructs a new office adjacent to the storage yard in Clearbrook, British Columbia.
The company purchases its first ballast regulator.
G. Brown Contracting Ltd. merges with a competitor and operates under the new name Pacific Northern Rail Contractors Corp. The company purchases a two-acre site in Langley, British Columbia, with an office and shop, which becomes the new company headquarters. George Braun serves as president.
The merger falls apart approximately six months later. George Braun retains leadership and partial ownership.
In November, George Braun acquires 100 percent of the shares of the company and enters into a partnership agreement with his four sons: Henry, George, Rudy and Erwin Braun. The company achieves annual sales of $3 million.
With George Braun, Jr. supervising the work, the company performs its first million-dollar job, removing rail on the Kettle Valley Railway fom Rock Creek to Penticton, British Columbia.
The company expands eastward when George Braun, Jr. moves his trailer and his family to Alberta and opens the company’s first branch office in Calgary.
The company performs its first multi-million dollar job for Prince Rupert Grain, a $5 million project to construct the yard and install indexers and switch machines.
The company completes its first transit project, construction of the Northeast leg of the light-rail transit line in Calgary, Alberta.
The eastward expansion continues when the company completes its first major venture in Eastern Canada: construction of a new rail yard facility for VIA Rail in Toronto.
The Calgary office relocates to its current site in Cochrane, Alberta.
The Pacific Region constructs the Maintenance Depot for the Expo Line in Vancouver, British Columbia, the oldest transit line in the SkyTrain System. The Expo light-rail line is named for the World’s Fair that will be held in Vancouver in 1986. PNR RailWorks later constructs the underground and Waterfront segments of the original line through the Dunsmuir Tunnel and two extensions: one in New Westminster and one in Surrey, British Columbia.
The company establishes an office in Toronto to service Eastern Canada. It is led by Regional Manager Jamey Craig.
The company completes a new main line double-track grade reduction project for Canadian Pacific Railway through Rogers Pass in British Columbia, considered the roughest terrain with one of the most aggressive grades of railway track in North America.
The Eastern Region constructs the first segment of track owned by GO Transit, a 10-mile, double-track line between Pickering and Whitby, Ontario.
George Braun, Sr., enters semi-retirement turning leadership of the company over to Henry Braun, who had served as executive vice-president since November of 1979. Henry Braun serves as president for the next 12 years.
The company relocates its headquarters from Langley to a new facility on a 10-acre site in Abbotsford, British Columbia, the location of its current headquarters.
The company provides technical assistance, materials, equipment and supervision to support SNC-Lavalin’s transit project in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
The eastern division relocates its offices to the current eight-acre site with railway access in Guelph, Ontario.
On April 1, RailWorks Corporation assumes full ownership of the company when it acquires all shares of Pacific Northern Rail Contractors Corp., from the three remaining Braun brothers.
In a joint venture partnership with SNC-Lavalin, the company constructs the 20-km Millennium Line, the second light-rail line in the SkyTrain System.
In December Henry and George Braun, Jr. retire and turn over leadership to Erwin Braun.
The company acquires its Signals division when parent company RailWorks Corporation completes the sale of Hovey Industries. The division is based in Guelph, Ontario.
Erwin Braun retires. Longtime PNR RailWorks Senior Manager Jamey Craig is named president and assumes leadership of the company.
The company changes its name to reflect its new ownership and begins operating as PNR RailWorks Inc.
PNR RailWorks achieves a revenue milestone when it surpasses $100 million, nearly tripling annual revenues in just three years.
PNR RailWorks acquires Québec’s largest railway contractor Entretien de Voies Ferrées Coyle Inc., also known as E.V.F. Coyle Inc. The new entity begins operating as PNR Coyle Inc. The acquisition expands PNR RailWorks’ geographic reach into Québec and Labrador.
PNR RailWorks constructs the Olympic Line, the 1.75-km. demonstration streetcar project, put into operation just for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Two modern European-style streetcars provided by Bombardier carry passengers between the Canada Line, Olympic Village and the tourist destination Granville Island. More than 500,000 people take the free, six-minute ride while the line operates between January 21 and March 21.
PNR RailWorks’ Signals division opens a satellite office in Edmonton, Alberta, in response to new business on transit lines in both Edmonton and Calgary.
The Signals division begins operating from its own facility headquarters in Guelph, Ontario, just minutes away from the nearby Track division office. The new 3,000 square-foot office and shop provides additional space to address business growth and expand capabilities. The division amends its name to Signals & Communications to reflect its broader range of services.
PNR RailWorks is named “Safe Contractor of the Year” and earns top safety honors in Category IV, comprised of companies with 301-plus employees, in the safety contest sponsored by The National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC). Railway Track & Structures (RT&S) magazine and Commercial Insurance Associates.
PNR RailWorks’ Signals & Communications (S&C) division attains ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System certification.
The Cochrane, Alberta, office opens a branch office in Regina, SK, to handle the growing volume of work in this province.
The Eastern division wins a five-year extension of its existing contract with GO Transit, to provide track and signals maintenance on 120 miles of GO Transit-owned track in the Greater Toronto area. PNR RailWorks has performed this work for the past 10 years.