Ryan Tones

Forty Under 40 Winner 2015: Senior vice-president, Western Canada, Kiewit, Age 39

Even as a boy, Ryan Tones loved to build things. That early passion is still with him as he helms multimillion-dollar civil engineering projects like the Sea-to-Sky Highway and Port Mann/Highway 1 upgrade project.

Born and raised in Maple Ridge, Tones had two uncles who were civil engineers, and when he was 14, he got his first job working in the lumberyard at Haney Builders Supplies, which exposed him to the construction industry.

Following in his uncles’ footsteps, Tones studied civil engineering at British Columbia Institute of Technology for two years, and later earned an applied science degree at the University of British Columbia.

In 1999, he was hired by Peter Kiewit and Sons Co., one of the largest construction contractors in North America.

His work with Kiewit’s western Canadian division – which he now heads – took him all over Canada. He spent 15 years living in places like Castlegar, Calgary, Edmonton and Fort St. John.

Frequent moves can be hard on a relationship, but Tones and his wife, Emma O’Neill, built their respective careers first before building a family. They now have two children, aged four and six.

“She and I survived six years of long-distance relationships,” Tones said.

When Kiewit won the contract to build the Sea-to-Sky Highway, Tones was brought back to the Lower Mainland as the project manager for $600 million worth of construction work in 2004. In 2009, he was part of the team responsible for $2.5 billion worth of work on the Port Mann/Highway 1 project, which involved about 2,000 workers.

In 2014, Tones was placed in charge of Kiewit’s western Canadian division, and one of his first tasks was to relocate the headquarters from Edmonton to Burnaby, a decision based largely on logistics, since about 350 of the division’s 500 engineers and superintendents live in the Lower Mainland.

He ascribes his relatively rapid move up the corporate ladder at a young age to simply being at the right place at the right time.

“I started with an organization that was 100 people strong in 1999 and today it’s 500,” he said. “Because there’s been such growth you need to push up your next generation of leadership.”

Join us to celebrate the 2015 Forty under under 40 Awards January 27, 2016 at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. For tickets and event info visit www.biv.com/events/40under40.