The Construction Source

All the best, The Editorial Team We will keep adding business units that enhance our offering and separate us from our competition. “ ” Editor From The Dear Reader, Welcome to the latest issue of Construction Source Canada, the magazine that highlights the best in building and building products across the country. On our cover this edition is Molnar Group, which is a family-run company with an over-50-year history of building family homes across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Today, under the leadership of Dak Molnar – son of company founder and industry legend Andre Molnar – they mainly focus on developing and delivering purpose-built rental housing in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. We talked to Dak about the necessity and urgency of that mission. We also discussed ‘Hendry Place,’ one of the company’s latest and most-acclaimed projects, which recently won categories at both the 2023 Georgie Awards and 2023 HAVAN Awards. Also in this issue is II BY IV DESIGN – a world-renowned creative studio that has been creating iconic interior designs for over 30 years. In that time, they have been recognized with over 450 design awards, including five-time recognition as ‘Designer of the Year,’ as well as recognition as one of the ‘World’s Top 50 Retail Designers.’ We spoke to Dan Menchions, one of the firm’s two founders, partners and principals. He talked to us about the company’s history of acclaim, and specifically about two of their most-recently award-recognized projects in the Greater Toronto Area. Of course, as always, we’ve also covered some industry-leading custom homebuilders and renovators, as is our bread and better. A prime example this time is Strongwood Construction, a high quality home renovation company based in Medicine Hat, Alberta. They are another multi-award-winning company – since 2015, they have been consistently recognized by numerous industry bodies, including the Best of Medicine Hat Reader’s Choice Awards, their local Chamber of Commercial Business Excellence Awards, the CHBA Awards, and the BILD Awards. We spoke to founder and owner Lyle Woodward about that award-winning streak and about the quality and customer service that made it possible. For those stories – and many more like them – just keep reading.

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THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA With a readership exceeding 145,000 senior executives, The Construction Source takes immense pride in providing an enticing platform to amplify your message to the most pivotal audience – your valued customers. Whether your aim is to promote an exciting new condo development, attract crucial financial investments for upcoming projects, or establish a commanding brand presence, we’re here to assist you every step of the way. To explore opportunities for featuring your company or showcasing your latest project in The Construction Source, please reach out to our Group Publisher. Jermaine Poulsen e: info@theconstructionsource. The Costruction Source Canada 2201 - 250 Yonge St Toronto, Ontario M5B 2L7 E: Executive Publisher Jermaine Poulsen COO Alexandra Box Editor in Chief Zach Janes Director of Operations Scott Carter Director of Business Development & Marketing Tamara Breen Business Development Managers Mary Ann Taylor Mike Turenne Director of Production Vicki Lee Digital Strategist Pranim Thapa Administration Manager Belyn Quijance-Dorero




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Liveable homes for families

The Molnar Group was first established in 1969 with a clear vision: to build homes for families. In the 50-plusyears since, the family-run company has consistently lived up to that vision, building close to 10,000 homes in lasting, livable communities across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Today, under the leadership of Dak Molnar – son of founder and industry legend Andre Molnar – the company focuses on developing and delivering much-needed purpose-built rental housing in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. “Our expertise in all aspects of project management ensures that the homes we deliver to residents are the very best, and will serve the needs of generations to come,” Dak says. Dak, much like his father, is a veteran of the real estate development industry. Over the course of his career, he has been involved in over $2 billion dollars in real estate transactions as a broker, developer and partner. Dak originally joined Molnar Group in 1995, but after three years decided to branch out on his own and joined Colliers International, where he worked as a broker specializing in the acquisition and disposition of shopping centres and multifamily apartment buildings. During several of his years at Colliers, he was a top performer – in 2003, he ranked in the top 50 in Canada out of over 1500 brokers countrywide. The next year, he left and started Balmoral Shopping Centres Ltd., a shopping center investment company. Over a six-year period, Balmoral, in partnership with Wesbild Holdings Ltd, built a retail portfolio that e encompassed over 170 tenants and 1.2 million square feet of space. In 2011, the portfolio was split up and sold to Rio Can, Bentall Kennedy and Standard Life for over $250 million dollars. In 2011, Dak re-joined the Molnar Group to expand the AUGUST 2023


company’s rental apartment, and retail portfolio. In the years since, Dak has developed over 1000 rental units and 200,000 square feet of commercial space. Balmoral, meanwhile, is still in operation and continues to invest in shopping centres with the Molnar Group and other partners. In recent years, as previously mentioned, Molnar Group has focused primarily on delivering purpose-built rental housing in BC – though they also maintain a portfolio of commercial properties in Washington State and Western Canada, including the prestigious Hotel Bellwether in Bellingham, as well as a portfolio of properties in Montreal. They have made rental housing their focus, however, due to the province’s housing crisis and the government’s inability to respond to it: “Rental housing is something that’s in short supply and high demand,” Dak explains. “If you can find real estate that makes sense, that you can underwrite to get a building built, the buildings lease up very quickly. It’s shown itself to be a great place to put money. You can keep the asset after you’ve completed it and put it in a portfolio for your personal cash flow, or you can tie a big red ribbon around it and sell it to a Canadian or international pension fund who will buy it like it’s a bond.” “It’s very safe investment because rarely, if ever, do you get an apartment building that vacates entirely,” he continues. “A lot of other commercial assets and single tenant assets have that vacancy risk, but a fully tenanted apartment building in a strong urban market in North America is one of the safest real estate bets. So pension AUGUST 2023

funds have been loading up on this asset class for many, many years.” “We saw that as an opportunity 20 years ago, so we started building this rental product. We’ve kept some doors and we’ve sold some doors and it’s worked out to be a very good business for us.” The only downside to the rental business, Dak adds, is the high barrier to entry – which Molnar Group can clear, but not a lot of other businesses can: “You have to have a lot of cash, you have to have a lot of experience,” Dak explains. “There’s a lot of gatekeeping from government and politicians – who cry for housing, but when you show up to ask for a permit it takes five years to get one. And it’s not like selling a condo – you’re not getting a big revenue cheque upon completion, it takes some time to get your money back. It’s a science and not everyone can do it, but we saw that as an opportunity, and it’s worked out very well.” As a fully-vertically-integrated real estate company, Molnar Group developers and constructs their own rental properties all in-house. As Dak says, they do everything from “acquiring the land, to doing the rezoning and development work, to doing the actual construction.” That means doing their own construction management, rather than relying on third party builders. Dak believes that self-performance makes the company “a bit more nimble.” “We’ve done it that way since the inception of the Molnar Group,” he explains. “We’ve always built our own product. We have our own team that THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

@lawsonlundell CANADIAN LAW AWARDS 2023 Lawson Lundell congratulates the Molnar Group on their multi-award winning project, Hendry Place. With over 40 members, Lawson Lundell’s Real Estate Group delivers gold standard service to help our clients achieve their desired results, and beyond. A LEGACY BUILT TO LAST. looks after that. That’s helped us to move a lot faster and to avoid the mark-ups that come with working with a third-party builder.” According to Dak, self-performing also enables the company to deliver to a higher level of specification than a lot of their competitors: “We were condo developers prior to getting into rental development, and we still take the condo approach to rentals,” he explains. “We have established a very nice appointed style. We think our buildings just look better than most. We’ve won many design awards over the years that testify to that.” “We never do eight-foot ceilings clear-to-clear,” he adds. “We do nine-foot ceilings clear-to-clear, so buyers have lots of head room. We do really goodsized bedrooms. We provide lots of amenities. We’re known for developing really liveable homes.” “There are a lot of rental developers who just build space. Their homes are tight. There aren’t a lot of windows. There’s not a lot of flair. There are low ceilings so they can stack and pack the units. We definitely don’t do that. We believe in comfort. We want to provide an environment for our tenants where they really feel good. We want them to look forward to coming home at the end of the day.” Once a rental building is delivered and up-andrunning, Molnar Group also does the property management. As a manager, Dak says they are very hands-on and they form personal relationships with their tenants. “We’re also very accountable,” he adds. “We have to be, since we’re self-managers. If something goes wrong, we can’t blame the property manager – because that’s us. The only people we have to blame are ourselves. So we have to be honest and we have to be up-front and available for our tenants, and we definitely are. We’re very diligent about that.” AUGUST 2023


Filling the gap As an example of the kind of quality and attention to detail that Molnar Group typically delivers, Dak points to the recently-completed ‘Hendry Place’ – a brand new boutique rental development consisting of 68 one, two, and threebedroom town and garden homes on the edge of Trout Lake, in one of Vancouver’s most desirable neighborhoods. Hendry Place is located on 66 acres of parkland, just minutes away from Commercial Driver and Downtown Vancouver. It is conveniently located close to prestigious schools, lush parks and green spaces, as well as highly-rated restaurants and transit opportunities. The Hendry Place homes, meanwhile, are designed with modern interiors, generouslysized open-concept layouts, and feature a minimal aesthetic. They also include spa-inspired bathrooms and ensuites, as well as gourmet kitchens designed to be versatile gathering places for cooking, entertaining, and living. Recently, the quality of that project has been repeatedly AUGUST 2023

recognized by Molnar Groups’ peers in the industry. For example, at the the 2023 Georgie Awards, hosted by the Canadian Home Builders Association of British Columbia (CHBA BC), Hendry Place was awarded ‘Best Multi-Family Townhouse Development (Production) over 10 units including mixed use.’ Meanwhile, at the 2023 Homebuilders Association Vancouver (HAVAN) Awards for Housing Excellence, Hendry Place also received the prize for ‘Best Multi-Family Production Development: Less Than 7 Storeys.’ Dak personally credits that recognition to the project’s uniqueness. He calls it “almost the first of its kind in the city.” “There hadn’t been a family oriented townhouse rental development in the City of Vancouver built in many, many years,” he explains. “This building also has a very high ratio of three-bedroom units,” he adds. “Just over 50 per cent of the units are three bedrooms, which are family units. They’re units that a couple and two children could very easily live in – and live in comfortably. There aren’t many rental developments with that kind of mix, and I think we were recognized for trying to fill that gap.” Dak also credits the project’s success to the “unbelievable area, next to the third-largest park in the City of Vancouver, which has a lake you can swim in in the summer, a huge community centre, outdoor tennis courts, swimming pools, ice rinks – it’s just a fantastic location.” Finally, Dak credits the recognition to the undeniably THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

high quality of the building. He says they built each unit “to almost a condo-quality spec – and I think that quality made the judges take a second and third look.” Moving forward, Dak says the vision for Molnar Group is to continue delivering rental housing to that quality standard, and in locations that are just as appealing. In general, he says, their intention is to “continue doing what we’re doing.” “We currently have the land to build about 600 doors,” he says. “Hendry was a smaller project for us at 68 units. We rarely do that few. Our strike zone is usually between 130 and 150 units. We currently have four 150-unit projects lined up. We started the first one a few months ago, we’re starting another one now, the next one will start in Q1 of 2024, and the one after that will start in Q3 of 2024.” “Our future is going to look a lot like our recent past,” he concludes. “We’re going to keep finding sites where people want to live, and we’re going to keep building high quality rental buildings for Canadian families.” AUGUST 2023

For more on Molnar Group, their projects, their awards, and how they give back to their community, visit For more on Hendry Place specifically, including more on the neighborhood, apartment amenities, and floorplans, visit THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

Bringing brands to life



II BY IV DESIGN is a multi-faceted creative studio dedicated to providing superior results and passionate about realizing their clients’ visions. Founded in 1990 by partners and principals Dan Menchions and Keith Rushbrook, their firm has been creating iconic interior designs for over 30 years. In that time, they have grown consistently in size and renown, their work has been extensively published, and they have been rewarded with over 450 design awards – including five-time recognition as ‘Designer of the Year,’ as well as recognition as one of the ‘World’s Top 50 Retail Designers.’ According to Dan, the firm’s success has been always been powered by their “personal approach,” paired with their ability to create designs branded to suit their client’s needs. He explains that their goal is always to understand the unique character of their client and their brand, “distill the essence” of that brand, and transform it into physical form. “We believe that each project is unique and deserving of its own signature,” Dan says. “We work with clients to identify their needs and establish a distinct project narrative. It is our thoughtful consideration for both inspiration and ideation that ensures each design concept is built on a strong foundation to better cultivate the unique vision. From strategizing design concepts to upholding details, this narrative will inform and drive the final design.” In the beginning, II BY IV DESIGN was just Dan and Keith – the pair had met about four years prior, and had bonded over their shared dream of a creative firm “deeply rooted in design” and “guided by a passion for constant innovation.” As the years went on, they steadily added to both their team and their portfolio, doing a wide variety of projects in a wide variety of sectors, including: multi-residential, commercial, hospitality, retail, and more. AUGUST 2023

THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA One of II BY IV DESIGNS closest partnerships is with ROSE PERRI & ASSOCIATES INC – they are a company that works with architects, interior designers, and landscape architects to provide comprehensive outdoor living consultancy for the commercial, hospitality, and residential markets. They offer a one-stop destination for outdoor resources and fabrication, and they specialize in offering unique worldsourced products that allow for the creation of amazing outdoor living spaces. They have been working with II BY IV for 12 years now – according to Dan, that longevity is a credit to the depth of ROSE PERRI & ASSOCIATES INC.’s selection, as well as the consistent high quality of their products.

Today, the II BY IV DESIGN team includes roughly 50 people between four studios. Two studios are located in a brick and beam loft building in Toronto’s Liberty Village, another is in the fashionable Marylebone district in London, and the last is in the heart of the creative scene in Brooklyn, New York City. In addition to II BY IV DESIGN, Dan and Keith also own and operate REPUBLIC OF II BY IV, a forward-looking, international product design studio that designs soughtafter luxury products such as furniture, lighting, fixtures, wall coverings, fabrics, carpets, and accessories. REPUBLIC OF II BY IV has also won a long list of international industry awards, and operates from the same premises in the same three cities as II BY IV DESIGN. According to Dan, both II BY IV brands have worked for customers not just in Toronto, but all across Canada, and even all across the world. He says they have worked for “some very significant brands, and all have taught us valuable strategies.” Their success on those projects, he says, has earned the firm the opportunity to be selective about the clients they work with and the projects they take on: “We’re drawn to projects that are truly design-driven,” he explains, “and we’re drawn to educated clients – clients who understand design, and who understand how design can help them be successful.” II BY IV DESIGN is also proud to cultivate longstanding relationships with their clients. Dan estimates that 99.9 per cent of the firm’s work comes from referrals or repeat clients, and he says some clients go back up to 25 years. He credits that loyalty, once again, to II BY IV DESIGN’s personal approach and their commitment to understanding their clients and their objectives. “I think it’s all about making sure that we’re working with our client,” he says. “We make sure we really understand their brand and their goals, and we design not for them personally, but for their target market. Our goal is never just to design something pretty – it’s always to design something that will drive the success of our clients.” AUGUST 2023


Industry recognized Over the years, II BY IV DESIGN has been extremely wellrecognized by their peers in the industry in the form of awards and accolades. As previously mentioned, they have been credited with over 450 design awards and been featured in numerous esteemed publications. In recent years, they have been particularly successful – from just 2020 on, they have been a winner or a finalist in almost 100 categories for awards from various prestigious industry bodies, including the International Interior Design Awards, the FX Design Awards, the LOOP Design Awards, the Urban Design & Architecture Awards, and many more. “It never gets old,” Dan says of that industry recognition. “It really doesn’t. It is always fantastic when our clients, our team, or our consultants are recognized. That’s why we enter these awards – we want to give AUGUST 2023

recognition to our clients and our team. They deserve it and we really enjoy it.” Recently, II BY IV DESIGN was recognized multiple times by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), whose awards program recognizes excellence and innovation in the design, construction, sales and marketing of new homes in the Greater Toronto Area. At the 2023 BILD Awards, II BY IV DESIGN was acknowledged in three separate categories for two different projects: ‘ClockWork’ by Mattamy Homes, and ‘Harbourwalk at Lakeview’ by Tridel. ClockWork is a brand new condo community in Oakville, Ontario, located at Dundas St. and Ninth Line, conveniently located not far from green space and with easy access to public transportation and highways into the city centre. It offers a mix of stylish one and two-bedroom suites with built-in smart technology and innovative home design. Amenities include a communal plaza, social lounge, rooftop terrace, fitness studio, walking trail, and more. At the 2023 BILD Awards, ClockWork won the category for ‘Best New Community, Planned/Under Development.’ On that project, II BY DESIGN worked with Mattamy Homes. They were actually a first-time client, but Dan says their two teams’ hit it off from the start. “They were great to work with,” he says. “We had a great first meeting with them. We got along very well, and I think we really came to understand their THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

brand and their demographic and what they wanted out of the project – and that’s what we designed towards.” On ClockWork, what they wanted was to “set a tone,” Dan explains, as that project comprised just the first two buildings in what is going to be a much larger multi-building development. Everything that came after would naturally have to take cues from that first space: “We took a really close look at the materials and finishes. We looked at the programming of the amenities of the space and considered how to disperse them between the two buildings we were working within. We looked really closely at the exterior amenities program, which was really large, and we really considered how the community was going to use those outdoor amenities throughout the year and the four seasons.” Harbourwalk at Lakeview, meanwhile, is a condo development located within the Lakeview Village Master-Planned Waterfront Community in Mississauga. As a whole, Lakeview Village will span across 177 acres along Mississauga’s waterfront, and will be comprised of more than 8,000 new homes, 1.8 million square feet of new office space, 200,000 square feet of retail space, and 12 acres of campus and cultural lands. Harbourwalk will consist of two buildings and will be one of the first releases in the community – and like other masterplan projects of this scale, it was designed to be tone-setting. At the BILD Awards, AUGUST 2023

Harbourwalk at Lakeview won both the ‘People’s Choice Award’ as well as the category for ‘Best High-Rise Building Design (Pinnacle).’ The client on that project was Tridel. They are a company that II BY IV DESIGN has been working with for over 16 years now. “We have a great relationship,” he says. “We feel very fortunate that they allow us to work on some of their top-tier projects – although we have worked on every tier of project for them, and always successfully, since all their projects are always design-driven and qualitydriven.” “When this development came along, we were very excited,” he adds. “It’s a very significant development. Tridel is taking an area that is in its infancy in terms of being developed, and they are creating an entire community there.” For the first release, II BY IV DESIGN worked with the architect on the project as well as Tridel’s in-house marketing team to design a product that Dan describes as “very marinelike,” with “soft sand colours and beautiful blues and a feeling of tranquility.” He also says it was designed “based on wellness,” and includes “spa-like interiors, green walls, lots of open space, and communal social areas.” The project also features a huge interior courtyard, which Dan says is “beautifully activated with great landscaping,” including “a really beautiful water feature.” Dan credits the award THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

recognition that project received to the beauty of the design, the appeal of the location on the waterfront, and also to the calibre of developer that Tridel is. “In a field with a lot of developers,” he says, “when you’re dealing with Tridel, you’re dealing with one of the best – not only one of the best in Canada, but all of North America.” Furthermore, Dan says the credit for that project – and the credit for all of II BY IV DESIGN’s award-winning projects, for that matter – should be shared with every other member of the project team. He says that any project they design will only turn out as strong as the roster of builders, consultants, and suppliers contributing to it. That’s why, he says, their team has worked hard to form lasting and productive partnerships with key industry partners. Historically, II BY IV DESIGN has also been able to form strong partnerships with builders. It helps, Dan explains, that they are a fully integrated Revit studio with a diverse background of creative and technical abilities. Since 2017 – long before a lot of their peers followed suit – they have worked in Revit with a refined BIM execution plan, with projects led by a full-time in-house BIM manager. Their process produces working drawings with the highest level of detail, which enables them to work seamlessly with all consultant teams across a project, including the builders. “Working with Revit and using BIM, we’re able to catch a lot of things in advance,” Dan says. “If there are ever details missing or if there is an oversight along AUGUST 2023


the way, it’s pretty much always been caught and addressed by the time the construction team is executing the project on site. That makes the relationship easier to manage, as it often contributes directly to the success of the project.” Moving forward, II BY IV DESIGN’s goal is to continue achieving that kind of success – and to continue achieving it in collaboration with the calibre of clients they like to work with, and on the calibre of projects they like to work on. For the most part, they like the scale they are working at now, and they like the variety in typologies, but they do believe there’s more opportunity to be seized in the hospitality and retail industries: “We’ve done those projects in the past, but projects in those sectors tend to come in five-to-seven-year cycles,” Dan explains. “We’d like to be heavily involved in the next cycle.” “We want to be working with great clients who truly love design, and value design that contributes to the needs of our society and the world at large,” he adds. “That describes the clients we’re working with now, so we feel very fortunate. We love what we do and we love that we get to work with some of the greatest clients in the industry.” AUGUST 2023

For more on II BY IV DESIGN, their approach, their past projects, and their long list of industry accolades – and to get in touch with Dan, Keith and their team – visit THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

Medicine Hat’s Premier Renovator

Strongwood Construction Inc. is a multi-award-winning renovation company based in Medicine Hat, Alberta, and specializing in high quality kitchen, bath, and full home renovation and design. Since forming in 2013, they have been industry recognized on a consistent basis, not only for the quality of their work, but also the quality of their service. From 2015 to 2023, they were voted ‘Best Renovation Company’ seven times at the Best of Medicine Hat Reader’s Choice Awards. In 2019, they were nominated for the Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for ‘Small Business of the Year.’ In 2021, they were a finalist for ‘Renovator of the Year’ at the CHBA Awards. Also, for three years straight, in 2021, 2022, and 2023, the company won the BILD Medicine Hat Award of Excellence for ‘Best Ensuite Renovation.’ Lyle Woodward, founder and owner of Strongwood Construction, credits that history of award recognition to the “open and honest approach” they take to every project: “We offer detailed and comprehensive quotes on all our renovations projects,” Lyle explains. “This proactive approach to planning and execution means clients get quality workmanship and ontime completions. We even provide our customers with full design services, 3D renderings, and access to our in-house design showroom. It’s these details that make us the one of the best renovation companies in Medicine Hat.” Lyle was born and raised in Medicine Hat, though he began his career in construction in Edmonton, where he worked as an estimator for a large commercial construction company, then to Lethbridge where he took the reigns as project manager for a residential renovation company. When he moved back to Medicine Hat in 2013, his goal was to create one of the premier renovation companies in town. AUGUST 2023


In the beginning, Lyle ran Strongwood Construction out of his garage. A couple years in, he upgraded to their first office, showroom, and shop. Shortly after that, he started working with Home Depot’s Installation Services doing kitchen cabinets, windows, doors, and interior renovations. Lyle says that partnership helped get the Strongwood Construction name out there and propelled it to some pretty consistent growth. Eventually, he says, he successfully built a reputation as one of the highest quality renovators in the city. Today, Strongwood Construction operates from a 4,000-square-foot showroom/ office/shop. Its projects can range greatly in size and value – Strongwood’s “bread and butter” is kitchen and bathroom renovations. With the majority of projects falling between from $10,000 to $80,000, Strongwood also does large scale renovations upwards of $500,000. According to Lyle, regardless of the project size or scope, clients tend to be drawn to Strongwood for the same list of reasons. One of the main reasons is their aforementioned showroom, where they have “a good sampling of everything,” Lyle says – including tiling, flooring, plumbing, cabinetry, hardware, and a whole lot more. “Clients can come in and we can put together a full design board. They can choose all their materials right here,” he explains. “We can be a onestop-shop, and that’s really appealing to a lot of our clients. They like that they don’t have to go from store-to-store, and they like that they don’t just have to rely on pictures.” AUGUST 2023

Another significant reason clients choose Strongwood, Lyle adds, is the depth of the company’s service offering, and the way that offering is built around renovations. For example, they not only offer design and construction management, but also a cabinet refacing service – where rather than replacing all of a client’s kitchen cabinets, they replace the cabinet doors and hardware, add some additional cabinets if needed, and veneer all the existing cabinets. That service can revitalize a kitchen the same way a complete replacement would, but instead of taking two months, it takes two weeks for a full transformation – plus, it’s much more environmentallysustainable, as there’s a lot less waste. “Cabinet refacing is something we do really, really well,” Lyle says. “It’s been our niche method of renovations and I think that’s something that really sets us apart. There’s no painting, no half measures. A refaced kitchen looks like a brand-new kitchen with so many extra benefits for our clients.” Then there’s the company’s industry reputation – Lyle believes that’s yet one more significant reason clients are drawn to Strongwood Construction: “We’ve won quite a few awards, we’re consistently winning more awards, and we’ve got a really good name in the city,” he says. “Medicine Hat has about 70,000 people, but it’s a very small town mentality here, so word travels fast. If you’re a good contractor or a bad contractor, people hear about it.” “When our name comes up, people hear good things,” he THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

adds. “When people talk to past clients, they hear about positive stories. When they look us up, they see good reviews. I think that’s been the key to our success.” In turn, Lyle believes the key to earning that positive feedback is being honest and straightforward with everyone they work with. He says that starts at the very beginning of the process, right from when they first provide a quote: “We work hard to manage our clients’ expectations,” he explains. “When we provide a quote, we provide a very, very detailed quote. We include what we’re going to do and what products we’re going to use. We’ll also do 3D renderings – so not only does the client have everything in words, they also have it in pictures. They see and understand what they are going to get.” “That pre-solves a lot of issues,” he continues, “because then there are no surprises at the end of the day. There’s no ‘I thought you were going to do this,’ or ‘I thought it was going to look like that.’ Clients know what we’re going to do and they know what it’s going to look like right from the start. That really reduces the stress that comes with the renovation process, and I think it makes the disruption in their lives a lot more tolerable.” Naturally, Strongwood Construction also delivers a high standard of workmanship every time – if that wasn’t the case they wouldn’t have such a strong reputation, and they wouldn’t win so many industry awards. Lyle credits that consistency of quality, firstly, to their product selection: “We put a lot of time and effort into searching out good quality products,” he explains. “The AUGUST 2023


products we use not only have to look good now; they have to look good in the future. They have to have longevity. They have to stand the test of time.” “And the supplier has to provide that product consistently,” he says. “If there are constantly delays or damaged shipments, or if their products are consistently not on stock, then we’ll have to move on.” Lyle says that when he finds suppliers who both provide good quality products, and provide them consistently, he holds on to them. He says that he’s on a first-name basis with a lot of his supplier’s reps, and he says many of those relationships go back almost 10 years. One example is Wolseley Canada, the leading wholesale distributor to plumbing, HVAC/R, waterworks and industrial markets in the country – and a part of Ferguson, the world’s largest trade distributor of plumbing and heat products. They have more than 220 branches across Canada, and they offer thousands of products from top manufacturers with immediate availability, as well as provide products for next-day delivery. That ability to service their clients’ product needs knowledgeably, accurately, and on time is invaluable for a renovation company like Strongwood Construction. AUGUST 2023


Thriving under pressure Strongwood Construction has produced several kitchen renovations that have been featured in Home Depot’s national advertising. Moving forward, Lyle says his vision is to continue delivering projects with that kind of “magazine quality,” and to continue exceeding the expectations of its clients along the way. What the vision doesn’t include, Lyle says, is growing too large. The company currently employs five people directly and Lyle says six to seven would be ideal, but he doesn’t want to get any larger than that. The company has been bigger in the past with up to 12 employees at one time, and Lyle found that he didn’t enjoy it, as he had to spend most of his time managing his staff instead of interacting with his clients. He highly values the personal relationships he forms with clients, so he doesn’t want to risk compromising those interactions. “I absolutely love kitchens and bathrooms,” he says, “and I love working with our clients. I want to continue to do what we’re known for, and be sought after by clients wanting a high-end, high-quality renovation. We’ve got one project coming up that will be another magazinequality kitchen that has several features you would see on HGTV. I really like those jobs because not only do you get to design and create something that is a showstopper, but you also have to work with a client who has very high expectations – and that pressure is what I really enjoy.” AUGUST 2023

For more on Strongwood Construction, their full range of renovation services, their past projects, and to hear from their past clients – and to contact Lyle and his team – visit THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA



Premier Quality Renovations is an award-winning renovation and custom construction company that has been serving the Greater Toronto and surrounding area for over four decades. Over the years, their company has evolved considerably, particularly in terms of the variety of their service offering. Today, Premier not only delivers their own renovation services – they accept all size jobs, from smallto-large scale, and they stand behind their quality with a lifetime warranty – they also offer a consulting service, wherein they help clients ‘be their own general contractor,’ to manage the whole renovation process themselves while receiving expert advice along the way, along with access to wholesale prices of trades and suppliers. Even more, Premier Quality Renovations also offers a training and certification service to other contractors across the country. Ultimately, they pass leads on to these ‘Premier Certified Contractors,’ who benefit from Premier’s longstanding and unassailable reputation, as well as the overwhelming consumer interest in the Premier brand. The man who built that brand is Peter Glaw – a veteran of the construction industry with over 45 years of experience. Peter was born into the business as the son of a builder, and growing up he worked alongside his father and learned “the right way to design and build.” As an adult, he started out buying houses, renovating them, and then flipping them. He then transitioned into doing renovations and additions directly for owners. As demand for his services increased, he established Premier Quality AUGUST 2023


Renovations. As time went on, however, demand started outpacing the company’s capability. Peter remembers getting a lot of calls from people asking for help, and he’d have to turn them down because he was too busy: “I would say ‘Maybe next year I can take your job,’” he recalls. “But people were telling me ‘I just need a little bit of help. I want to do it on my own, I just need some instructions.’ So I started helping them. That’s how the consultancy part of the business was born.” In the years since, Premier Quality Renovations has heavily refined their consulting service, and consulting is a significant part of what they do. That service is geared towards homeowners who are planning renovations and basically know what they want; they just want experienced back-up along the way. Premier provides those owners with the knowledge, advice, and confidence they need to make their project successful. They also provide inspection of the work done. For on-site consulting, they charge $500. For online consulting, they charge $250. The goal behind the Premier’ consulting service is to help owners “be their own general contractor,” Peter explains. The first step, he says, is teaching them the basics of the industry – “similar to learning to fly a plane, you first have to learn the theory before you step foot in the plane.” That’s why he wrote a book called ‘How To Be Your Own General Contractor,’ which teaches readers just what the title says. The book is now available for order on Premier’s website anytime – Peter says it has been selling “extremely well, especially during the pandemic.” AUGUST 2023

The second step to being your own general contractor is to consult with experts in the field. “You’ve learnt the theory of flight, but that doesn’t make you a pilot yet. Without an instructor showing you the basics of flying, your success rate is low.” Premier’s expert consultants are the instructors. They teach clients everything they need to know and are available nearly any time via FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, and Zoom. The third step is accessing trades and supplies at affordable, discounted rates. “Now that you’ve got your flying permit, you need an airplane to fly,” Peter says. To help with that, Premier Quality Renovations introduced their unique ‘Premier Access Card,” which gives holders access to wholesale prices at hundreds of trusted trades and suppliers. “That card allows owners to buy everything they need as if they were a major contractor,” Peter explains. “Clients can save up to 60 per cent on everything reno. That helps take away the worry of costs and gives them more time to focus on what’s important – which is being their own general contractor.” By providing that consulting service and helping owners be their own general contractors, Peter and the rest of the team at Premier Quality Renovations have been able to help a lot of people they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to – and not just in Ontario, but all over the country. In order to help even more people and to expand their reach even further, Premier has also introduced the Premier Certified Contractor (PCC) program. That program THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

involves training and certifying other contractors from across Canada, and then when they get calls from clients in other areas, referring those clients to their local Premier Certified Contractor. According to Peter, Premier takes that certification process very seriously. He says they will only refer clients to companies that they know will provide high quality workmanship, as well as high quality customer service along the way. “Before we pass their name on, we have to know they will to do the job properly, they won’t take shortcuts, and they will value the client’s money,” Peter explains. “We don’t take that certification lightly. Our reputation is too important to us.” For the contractors who do clear the bar, Peter reiterates that the benefits are great. He says that Premier Certified Contractors will have an “almost guaranteed continual income source.” “We feed them a lot of leads, because we have leads coming in from all over the place,” he says. “These leads are qualified and ready to go by the time we pass them on. They’re not a bunch of tire-kickers. The PCC program works really well.” AUGUST 2023

Old school meets new school In addition to providing their consulting and certification services, Premier Quality Renovations also still operates as a traditional general contractor. In that capacity, they work throughout the GTA, primarily focusing on renovations and additions, with the occasional new build thrown into the mix. Within that niche, Peter believes what sets the company apart is their lifetime warranty – “which I don’t believe anyone else in Canada has anymore.” “In previous generations, everyone used to offer a lifetime warranty, whether you were a blacksmith making horseshoes or a telephone man or whatever else,” he says. “These days, you’d have a hard time finding that anywhere else. That makes us very, very unique.” That warranty covers “everything we touch,” Peter says – exempting, of course, electronic fixtures and appliances. “If we put your light fixture up, and the light fixture flickers or burns out, of course we don’t cover that,” he explains. “But if THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

your light fixture falls down, call us. If your door falls down, call us. If your trim is coming off, call us – forever.” Premier Quality Renovations can provide that kind of lifetime assurance, Peter explains, because they are so extremely confident in their level of quality. He explains where that confidence comes from: “First of all, it comes from working with my father and my uncle,” he says. “They came from Germany, and working with them, things had to be absolutely perfect. As a kid, I hated it. I would say ‘this is good enough, dad.’ He would never accept that. His philosophy was that you had to do it the best you could possibly do it. He also told me, ‘I want you to think of every job as if it was your own mother’s house. Would you say it was good enough if it was your own mother’s house?’ If it’s not good enough for your mother, it’s not good enough for a customer.” “That was his philosophy and now it’s instilled in my DNA,” Peter adds. “I’m passing it on to my kids and I’m passing it on to everyone who we hire, train, and certify. Initially, that can be hard to swallow for many people. But if you represent Premier Quality Renovations, it’s a must.” Fortunately, Peter says that a number of trades and subtrades have bought in, and he says Premier has formed some longstanding relationships with those people: “We have worked with the majority of our subtrades in excess of 15 years,” he says. “Some of them we’ve worked with 20 years, 25 years, some AUGUST 2023

are pushing on 30 years. We’ve worked with them a really long time. Because once they work out well, we keep them and we feed them.” “As for our direct tradesmen, we have people who have been with us well over 20 years,” he adds. “They like it here. We treat them well. We pay them well. We take care of them. In return, they give us great production. They pass the value on to our consumers.” Peter reiterates that in today’s market, offering a lifetime warranty is something that truly sets Premier Quality Renovations apart. Another key point of difference, he says, is the fact that they only take a $5,000 deposit upon signing any agreement of any size. “Whether I’m doing a $30,000 bathroom or a $3 million dollar home renovation or addition, it’s only $5,000 up front. That’s our handshake. The rest is due and payable on a weekly or biweekly basis, at the end of every week or two weeks after we’ve done the work and bought the materials.” “So the consumer has zero financial risk,” Peter explains, “which gives them a lot of confidence. We hear a lot of stories about other contractors coming in and taking huge sums of money up front then not showing up, then they get fired and they keep the money. There’s absolutely no chance of that happening with us.” “Our agreements are also dirt simple,” he adds. “A two-yearold could read it. There’s no tricky language. It’s old school. It’s written the way it would be written two generations ago.” At the same time, Premier balances that old school approach with new school technology, which enables a high level of transparency with customers: “With our system, the customer gets a complete spreadsheet weekly, which details who worked on their job, what they did, and how many hours they put in,” Peter explains. “It includes a complete breakdown of the materials purchased. So customers know exactly what they are paying for when they’re paying for it. They don’t have to guess, and they don’t have to just take my word for it. It’s all open book.” THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

Raising the bar Looking to the future, Peter has a vision for not just Premier Quality Renovations, but for the construction industry as a whole. He is disheartened by the popular conception of the industry in North America – that it’s full of companies that just want to take the client’s money and run. He personally hears a lot of the horror stories, and he knows very well the industry standards for training are lacking. “The biggest thing that companies get away with is shoddy workmanship,” he says. “Because let’s face it, in Canada and the United States, the standards for training are minimal. In many European countries, if you want to be a painter it’s a three-year apprenticeship program. If you want to be a painter here there’s no such thing. How about a carpenter? In Canada we do have the Red Seal carpentry course, but in Europe it’s a four year course and full-time apprenticeship, similar to being a plumber or an electrician.” “So the training is lacking here,” he reiterates. “That’s why I’m a proud member of RenoMark – and that’s why I worked with RenoMark to help develop a Professional Renovator Education Program. We’re now trying to implement that program across Canada.” The RenoMark program was established in 2001 by the Toronto-based Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and is now delivered in partnership with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and local Home Builders’ Associations across Canada. RenoMark identifies professional contractors who have agreed to abide by a renovation-specific Code of Conduct. The Renovators Mark of Excellence makes it easy for homeowners to identify participating professional renovators who have agreed to provide a superior level of service. The RenoMark Professional Renovator Program (PREP), which Peter helped create, is now a mandatory educational course for all RenoMark renovator members at BILD. The PREP courses include educational sessions on the following topics: RenoMark Code of Conduct, Customer Service, Legal and Dispute Resolution, AUGUST 2023