Stephen Mercer’s Strategic Leadership at RJC Engineers

Stephen Mercer’s Strategic Leadership at RJC Engineers
Image Courtesy: Stephen Mercer

In an interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Stephen Mercer, Regional Manager and Project Engineer at RJC Engineers, discussed his significant role in driving the firm’s growth and positively impacting the local economy in Halifax. He explained how his extensive background in handling major housing projects in Vancouver is now instrumental in addressing similar challenges in Halifax. With a focus on integrating national expertise with local market needs, Stephen is keen on advancing innovative construction methods like modular and mass timber, aiming to optimize construction processes and labor utilization in the region. His leadership not only aims to enhance RJC Engineers’ local presence but also contributes to sustainable and efficient infrastructure development in the Maritimes.

Stephen is a detail-oriented structural engineer with a passion for creating resilient and innovative building designs. He has a strong technical background and experience designing with an array of building materials including concrete, steel, and wood. Beyond his technical proficiency, Stephen embodies a collaborative spirit, understanding that great designs are born from effective teamwork and communication.

A versatile engineer, Stephen’s broad portfolio of work includes both new and existing structures ranging from high-rise concrete mixed-use towers and office buildings to low-rise mass timber commercial and steel academic buildings. His expertise extends beyond design alone; he possesses hands-on construction experience and adeptly manages projects from conception to completion.

After earning his Bachelor of Engineering from Dalhousie University, Stephen received a Master of Applied Science from the University of British Columbia, and gained experience in the Vancouver area while working with RJC. Born and raised in the Maritimes, Stephen is thrilled to bring his expertise to RJC’s Halifax office. His background and education equip him with both the technical skills and local knowledge necessary to guide projects to success throughout Atlantic Canada.

Image Courtesy: RJC Engineers

Professional Affiliations:

  • Engineers Nova Scotia (ENS)
  • Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia (EGBC)
  • Structural Engineers Association of British Columbia (SEABC)
  • Construction Association of Nova Scotia (CANS)

As the Regional Manager for RJC Engineers’ new Halifax office, how do you see your role influencing both the firm’s growth and the local economy in Halifax?

Halifax and the Maritimes are seeing massive growth, and the local construction industry needs not only additional consulting engineers but consultants with a wide range of expertise to help advance it. RJC Engineers (RJC) has already been in this area for years, but my role is to cement our local presence and help bring new ideas from across Canada to Halifax.  

Image Courtesy: RJC Engineers

My experience navigating the housing boom in Vancouver helps with the wide range of housing projects needed to deal with the projected population growth and existing housing supply challenges in Halifax. As Regional Manager, I am also responsible for bringing the wealth of expertise from across RJC to the region, supporting other RJCers and clients as we deliver a wide range of services.


Given your educational background at Dalhousie University and subsequent experiences, how do you leverage this unique blend of local and national expertise in your role at RJC Engineers?

My experience in large cities nationally has exposed me to various types and scales of projects, skill sets, challenges, and solutions that may be uncommon in Halifax. When a unique challenge presents itself in the Maritimes, I can use this experience or call upon any of my colleagues across the country with expertise in that area.

Growing up and working in the Maritimes, I see the unique challenges we face here, especially in our housing crisis and labour shortage, where the engineering solutions we develop can speed up construction and work with the labour supply.  While concrete is still an excellent option for our projects, modular and mass timber are increasing a part of the equation as they can rapidly produce housing with local labour.

All in all, I’m bringing RJC’s national experience and expertise to ‘made-in-the-Maritimes’ solutions.


With the opening of RJC’s Halifax office, what are the key engineering services and specialties that you are bringing to the Atlantic Canada market?

RJC is one of Canada’s pre-eminent engineering firms. We bring many specialities to the region, including structural engineering, structural restoration, parking planning, building science, and building energy modelling. We offer services to help owners from ideation through the life of their building with a holistic approach, focusing on building performance. We can pull expertise from a wide range of projects across Canada and apply it to the local industry.  

Image Courtesy: RJC Engineers

In particular, we feel that the local market can benefit from our significant experience in medium to high-rise residential buildings, fast-paced construction, modular housing, mass timber and institutional work.


Could you elaborate on the opportunities and challenges you foresee with mass timber projects in Halifax, and how RJC plans to address these in upcoming projects?

Mass timber is another tool in our toolbox; it provides many solutions to the construction industry but isn’t a silver bullet.  

Mass timber allows us to build beautiful homes and structures in public spaces with a lower environmental impact.  The local market can have long construction schedules, whereas mass timber structures can have a reduced project timeline.  Mass timber buildings are also desirable places for people to live and work.  For example, studies have shown that children perform better in schools when their classrooms use exposed wood. Additionally, mass timber supports the local forestry industry, and many new and existing local companies are looking to develop mass timber products.

One challenge is that mass timber is still in its infancy here in Nova Scotia versus the more established industry RJC has been a part of in other parts of Canada, particularly in the western provinces.  There is room to expand the labour pool of mass timber expertise in Nova Scotia, as most of the supply currently comes from outside the Maritimes.  We are hopeful that the proposed mass timber production facility in East Hants, Nova Scotia, could provide a local source of these products in the future.


Reflecting on your return to Halifax, how do you believe your journey and the opening of this new office will inspire future engineers in the region?

Image Courtesy: RJC Engineers

I have met many people who have decided to return to the Maritimes or move here for the first time.  I think the influx of individuals coming to the Maritimes is well underway.  I cannot speculate on individuals’ reasons for coming here, but the population growth speaks for itself, especially in the past several years. This growth has provided many employment opportunities, especially for engineers and others in the construction industry. From my experience, the Maritimes offer big-city opportunities with a small-town sense of community.

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