Lavalin Inc is a privately owned engineering firm based in Montréal. With operations in more than 100 countries, more than 7000 employees and annual revenues of about $1 billion, it is a major presence among the world's biggest engineering and construction contractors and one of Canada's most powerful corporate entities. It enjoys particularly close ties with Québec's political elite, some of whom have been employed, or anticipate employment, in its executive offices.
Much of Lavalin's growth has occurred since 1962, when Bernard Lamarre (b at Chicoutimi, Qué 6 Aug 1931) became a partner in the company founded by his father-in-law in 1936. He brought formidable political and engineering skills to the firm, and under his leadership (he became CEO in 1972) it won its share of the ambitious construction contracts generated by the Quiet Revolution, including a part in the biggest of them, the James Bay Project.
Lavalin's involvement in the James Bay development was its major breakthrough; it gained there the money and expertise it needed to compete successfully for rich contracts in Third World countries, as well as in China and the Soviet Union, where, during the past 15 years, its most significant work has been accomplished. In addition, the firm won the contract to construct a roof over the Olympic Stadium in Montréal.
Over time Lavalin has acquired numerous subsidiaries as a cushion against the cyclical nature of the construction industry, including the Lafarge Coppée cement manufacturing company of France and a 50% interest in the US firetruck manufacturer, Maxim Inc, in 1987 as part of a corporate strategy to move into the manufacture of mass-transit vehicles. In April 1999 the government of Ontario announced the selection of the consortium led by SNC-Lavalin to own, operate, and continue to design and build the 407 toll highway, the world's first fully electronic, open-access toll highway, in the Toronto metropolitan area.