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. In this edition, we’ve shined our spotlight at companies from across the entire length of Canada – companies from Western Canada, from Atlantic Canada, and from everywhere inbetween. We’ve made similar claims of geographic diversity the past, but it’s never been truer than this time. On our cover, for example, is Allied Construction Management – they are a construction, project management, and development company with almost 30 years of history servicing Newfoundland and Labrador. Over their 30-year history, they have been involved in some of the largest and most complex building developments in the province. For most of their history, they have focused on commercial and industrial work, but they recently broke into the multi-residential sector. We talked to them about one of their first projects in that field, called One Churchill Park. Looking westwards, this edition also features WinnPro Construction – an industry-leading commercial contractor based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They are another company with a multiple-decade-history and a deep portfolio of commercial and industrial projects. We spoke with Albert Krahn, the company’s founder and president, about some of their most prominent accomplishments, and about the many significant projects keeping them busy today. Located in between those companies is Woodland Horizon in Drayton, Ontario. They are the premier supplier of custom kitchen and bath cabinetry to their region and beyond. Since forming in 2005, they have grown from a team of two to a team of over 50, and along the way they have persevered through experienced including their entire facility burning down in 2012. We caught up with company founder and owner Laverne Martin, who walked us through Woodland’s incredible story and explained the secrets of their current success. For those stories – and a lot more like them, about more of Canada’s leading developers, builders, and suppliers from east to west – 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 202 - 1200 Bay Street Toronto, Ontario M5R 2A5 E: Executive Publisher Jermaine Poulsen COO Alexandra Box Editor in Chief Zach Janes Director of Operations Scott Carter Cathy Ditchburn 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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Allying with clients Allied Construction Management is a construction, project management, and development company with almost 30 years of history servicing Newfoundland and Labrador.

Since forming in 1995, they have successfully delivered a wide range of projects to a variety of industry markets – their portfolio features works of all sizes and levels of complexity, from some of the largest building developments in the province, to intricate interior renovations and fit-ups. No matter the size or scope of the project, or the obstacles they face, they have always strived to provide the same level of unparalleled service to customers. “Throughout our history, our goal has been to make the construction process enjoyable for our clients,” says John Sheppard, project manager and estimator. “We believe in doing the right thing and treating people fairly.” “Our fundamental values are honesty, fairness, thrift, and hard work,” he adds. “We strive to earn our clients trust and respect. We also believe our clients should play an integral part in each project. We make it a priority to involve you in every step of the collaborative process, and through teamwork we decrease the chances of additional costs and delays.” Allied Construction Management was founded by Andrew Driscoll, who remains the company’s president to this day. In the early years, the company mostly focused on public tender work for commercial institutional clients – schools, hospitals, water treatment plants, et cetera. Over the years, they developed a particularly powerful expertise in concrete formwork. In more recent years, Allied Construction Management has shifted their focus to private development clients. They have also expanded their expertise to include tilt-up concrete work. John personally joined the company about eight years ago, just in time to observe that shift. In his time there, he has also observed the company evolve considerably in their use of software and technology: OCTOBER 2023



“When I started at the company, we were using the fax machine to send out tenders and we were doing quantity take off by hand,” he recalls. “At the same time, they were very open to new ideas and bringing in new technology. Now we use SmartBid for tendering. We use PlanSwift for estimating. We use drones for progress pictures and mapping out as-builts. We started using ‘Procore’ in 2018 – that incorporates everything we do under one umbrella, which is designed to help construction managers deliver projects on time and on budget by centralizing data and strengthening field-to-office communications.” “That’s been one of the great things about working here,” he adds. “The leaders here are very open to trying new things and finding better ways of doing things. That’s not always the case in construction.” Today, Allied Construction Management continues to offer services in a range of markets, from industrial to residential, while always offering fullservice solutions. Their services include new construction, additions and renovations, and their project types include: restaurants, hotels, and office buildings; industrial buildings; institutional buildings such as health care, education, recreation, defense and justice facilities; and now multiresidential developments. The residential market is a new field for Allied Construction Management. Within that field, they are currently working on One Churchill Park– a sixstorey residential development located at 47 Rowan Street, St John’s, and comprising 69 luxury apartments, along with two levels of underground parking and retail space on the main floor. Allied Construction Management has been heavily involved in One Churchill Park since the preTHE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

construction process, where they worked with suppliers and subcontractors to meet the project’s budget requirements. “It was a unique project,” John recalls, thinking back to the planning stages. “There were a lot of challenges along the way. We had to connect to an existing bank and underpin its foundation. We had to remove contaminated soil, and the lowest level of parking is in a water table which required pumping during construction. The lowest floor is a thick structural slab, which prevents uplift of the building from the water pressure below, so we had to use a special waterproofing membrane. And the list goes on.” The client on that project is KMK Capital, which manages a number of holding companies that are involved in a wide variety of construction and development projects across Newfoundland and Labrador. KMK Capital is not Allied’s only repeat customer, however. Over the years, they have built longstanding relationships with a long list of clients, including a number of external development companies. John credits that repeat business to several key factors, including Allied’s “clear communication,” their ability to meet deadlines, and their close ties to some of the region’s “very best subcontractors and suppliers.” On the communication front, John says that the company tailors their approach to the specific wants and needs of the client. Some owners, he explains, want to be involved in a project on a day-to-day basis and they want to be part of the “nuts and bolts of the decision making.” In those cases, the OCTOBER 2023


company is happy to oblige them and share daily logs and progress photographs. Other owners, meanwhile, prefer to be more hands-off – “they want to know when they can pick up the keys to their building,” John explains, “and we work well with them too.” When it comes to meeting deadlines, meanwhile, John admits that can be challenging – and it was especially challenging during the height of the pandemic, when material availability was most volatile. In the view of Allied, the key to overcoming those challenges is planning ahead and properly aligning the client’s expectations. “We make sure we’re clear with owners from the beginning,” John explains. “Before we ever sign a contract, we make sure we understand their delivery expectations, and we don’t overpromise. We don’t say we can get something done when we know full well the delivery implications.” “There are also challenges being on an island here in Newfoundland,” he says. “Those are challenges a lot of our clients from other parts of Canada don’t understand. We make sure we educate them up front so they know what to expect – and then we do our best to help them work around those challenges and deliver their project in a timely manner.” “It also helps that we selfperform our concrete work,” he adds. “We’re able to control a lot of the scope. We’re able to control the schedule. We’re able to make sure we won’t have challenges down the road when it comes to floor finishes and levelling and anchor bolt OCTOBER 2023

locations for steel. We’re able to deal with all that up-front, which saves a lot of time later in the process.” Finally, when it comes to their subcontractors and suppliers, John reiterates that Allied Construction Management has aligned themselves with some of the highest quality providers in the region. He says some of those relationships go back to the very start of the company in 1995. An example of a partner for the One Churchill Park project is Living Stone – one of the leading natural stone and quartz importers and fabricators in Atlantic Canada. Living Stone specializes in both residential and commercial work, and they offer a variety of countertop surfaces, including natural stone, quartz, dekton, and porcelain. As a familyowned business based in Atlantic Canada, they also take pride in the professional they provide to customers, the opportunities they provide their employees. Since forming over 20 years ago, their goal has been to build a legacy in their local community they can be proud of – which is a goal they have in common with Allied Construction Management, making the two companies natural partners. Another partner that shares that goal is Kento Windows & Doors – a locally-based business that has been operating since 1983. Kento’s doors and windows are made in Newfoundland and engineered to meet the needs of Atlantic Canada’s unpredictable weather. Over the course of their long history, they have built a reputation for providing customers with a competitive price for a quality of product, along with the comfort and assurance of knowing their product is backed by Kento’s exceptional customer service. THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

Seizing opportunity Currently, Allied Construction Management is nearing completion of One Churchill Park. The first tenants are due to move in November, and the remainder of the building is projected be completed and ready for occupancy by December. Empowered by the success of that project, the company’s goal is to continue exploring the multi-family residential market. They already have other similar projects in different stages of development. Moving forward, the company also wants to continue doing tilt-up projects. They have done five to date – two four storey buildings, a one-storey Kubota dealership, and most recently a private five-bay airport hangar. “We definitely want to get into more residential, and we definitely want to get into more tilt-up projects,” John says. “We think there’s a lot of opportunity in those two sectors. There’s a lot of opportunity to grow.” Speaking of growth, John says that’s “definitely the goal – but we’re always very cautious to not take on more that than our current resources can handle.” “Our clients always have to come first,” he concludes. “We hope that we’ve created a legacy in the construction industry, and we’re very protective of that legacy. We only want to grow if it means we can keep providing the same level of leadership and excellence in the delivery of all our services.” OCTOBER 2023

THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA For more on Allied Construction Management, their services, the markets they serve, and their past and present projects – and to get in touch with their expert team – visit

Pro quality, pro service WinnPro Construction Ltd.

WinnPro Construction is an industry-leading commercial contractor based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They provide a variety of services, including general contracting, project management, design-build, and building maintenance, and they work on a variety of commercial and industrial typologies, including retail stores, restaurants, shopping centres, offices, and more. Since forming 23 years ago, they have successfully delivered a long list of projects to satisfied clients – many of whom they have been working with since close to the company’s founding. “We strive to achieve long-term relationships with our partners and customers,” says Albert Krahn, WinnPro’s founder and president. “We recognize the value of experience, hard work, and standing by our word. We listen to the needs of our customers to understand their specifications and create the commercial space they want.” Albert has personally been working in construction since he was 18 years old, and he’s been working in the commercial sector specifically since the late 1980s. For many years, he worked as a site foreman and then as a part-owner of a commercial contractor that worked all over the country. In the year 2000, Albert went out on his own and formed WinnPro Construction. Backed by his experience and contacts in the city, he was able to get off to a fast start. In the years since, the company has grown at a steady rate in terms of both volume and project size. These days, their projects can range in value anywhere from $30,000 to $10 million. Oftentimes, the projects on the smaller end of the value spectrum are spinoffs of their larger projects – for example, they might convert a defunct building into a new grocery store, and then within that grocery store they will do three mini-restaurants. According to Albert, the vast OCTOBER 2023


majority of WinnPro’s work at all price points comes from repeat clients. He credits that loyalty to their openness and honesty with clients, and also to their reputation for “never walking away.” “Clients know that at the end of the day, we will not walk away from any challenges,” he says. “And this is construction, so there will be challenges. Issues are always going to come up. Clients know that when that happens, we’re going to honest with them about it, and we’re going to come up with a solution for them. That’s why they like working with us.” Clients also value WinnPro’s consistency of quality. For example, one of the company’s major recurring clients is Mark’s (formerly known as Mark’s Work Wearhouse). Albert says that in his experience, it’s not very common for big chains to be loyal – big businesses tend to choose contractors mostly based on price – but he believes they highly value WinnPro because “they know what they’re going to get.” “There’s comfort in knowing that the finish of their store in Winnipeg is going to look exactly like the finish of their store in Mississauga and exactly the finish of their store in Vancouver. They know that we’re going to be able to achieve that consistent level of finish for them. That’s one less thing for them to worry about.” Albert credits that quality consistency to the team they have at WinnPro – which encompasses both their direct employees as well as their roster of subcontractors. In both groups, he says they have built some very longstanding relationships. Internally, for OCTOBER 2023

example, the company employs five-to-eight project managers, and four of them have been with the company for 20 years. When it comes to their subcontractors, meanwhile, Albert says they have relationships that predate even the founding of WinnPro Construction. In some of those cases, the companies they work with are on their second generation of ownership. “We’ve been very loyal to our subcontractors,” Albert says. “Our subcontractors are the reason we are where we are. We use reputable ones, we use ones that are fully recognized by the safety board, and we reuse them.” That’s not to say, however, that the company doesn’t pay attention to pricing. They work in the commercial sector, so they understand the importance of being cost effective. They don’t necessarily have to be the cheapest, Albert says, as customers will also weigh their history and track record, but they do need to be competitive – and thus, so must their subcontractors. At the same time, they also believe in the importance of loyalty and continuity on site. That’s why within every subcontracting discipline, they strive to maintain relationships with three or four companies with whom they can continually look to for pricing. “That keeps the familiarity high, it keeps the quality high, and it also keeps our costs competitive,” Albert explains. Curt Gobert 179 Fraser Road, Winnipeg, MB R2N 4B3 Phone/Text: 204.941.3357 Email: THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

Staying busy Currently, WinnPro Construction is working on a long list of projects, mostly within the borders of Winnipeg – though they are a renovating one Sport Chek outlet in Brandon, Manitoba, which is about a two hour drive away. Within the city, examples of their ongoing work include: refreshes of three Mark’s stores; two new buildings at Kildonan Crossings for LS Properties (one is 5,000 square feet, one is 10,000 square feet); the external buildings (but not the Tis) for several upcoming fast food outlets and one nail salon; several projects within the University of Manitoba’s Smartpark; window upgrades for six apartment blocks owned by Qualico; and a lot more. So the company is definitely busy. Moving forward, Albert’s goal is to stay busy. For the moment, the goal is not necessarily to get much bigger, OCTOBER 2023


TS RP URTIS TILE | CARPET | VINYL PLANK | LAMINATE | HARDWOOD | SHEET VINYL Manitoba’s premier flooring store, serving clients needs for retail, commercial, insurance, and new homes. 1280 Pembina Hwy, Winnipeg | 204-452-8100 though that could change as the next generation takes over. “Do we want to be a super large company? No, not necessarily,” Albert says. “For now, we want to keep doing what we’re doing and we want to do it well.” At some point in the near future, however, Albert intends to transition into semi-retirement. His son Landon is already a key part of the business, and he also has longstanding vice president and project manager named Dan Becker, who is more than ready to take on the responsibility. “They are the next generation of WinnPro,” Albert explains. “I’ll continue to be involved to some extent – it’s a family business, and I’ll be here to answer questions and consult where I can – but my goal is to take a step back and let Landon and Dan take the reins.” Specializing in structural steel since 1965 (204)667-3981 “Where the company goes next will be up to them,” he concludes. “They’ve already introduced a lot of technology to the business, which has worked out very well and created a lot of efficiencies, so I know the business will be in good hands.” OCTOBER 2023

THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA For more on WinnPro Construction, their services, past projects, and their latest news – and to get in touch with Albert and his team – visit

All in this together Matra Construction is a construction management company dedicated to delivering high-quality projects built on principles of transparency, trust, and integrity.

From their headquarters in Burnaby, they work across BC’s Lower Mainland, where they have been involved with some of the most exciting and complex office, commercial, and institutional projects in the region, and have substantial work across BC, and into Alberta. Recently, for example, the company worked on Lululemon’s new executive offices in downtown Vancouver, within the newly built Burrard Place office tower. There, Lululemon leased about 120,000 square feet of office space across nine floors of the 10-floor building. Over multiple phases spanning the course of a year, Matra worked on all nine floors. “That is a gorgeous space,” says Kelsey Vincent, the company’s operations manager. “The finishes were amazing. Everyone really came through – the project manager, the project coordinator, the site supervisor, all the trades. The space strikes a perfect balance of aesthetics, functionality, and powerful technology, including a stateof-the-art Television in their Executive boardroom, which boasts the highest resolution to size ratio in Western Canada. According to Kelsey, Matra earned that project based on costs and the strength of their relationships – not just their relationships clients, but also with employees, vendors, and other industry partners. She says all those relationships are built on a foundation of “collaboration.” “Collaboration empowers us to build innovative solutions that deliver exceptional client experiences,” she says. “That results in long-lasting relationships with everyone we work with.” In the years since, Matra’s growth has continued apace. These days, the company employs about forty team members, including 15 fulltime site supervisors and 10 OCTOBER 2023


project managers. They work on projects with values ranging from $200,000 to $15 million. The team is led by the owners who work within the team…. partners Jason Moore, Arfan Khan, and Dave Dalbo. Again, within their niche, Kelsey believes that clients choose Matra due to their excellence in relationship-building. As evidence of that excellence, she estimates that over 90 per cent of their work is for repeat clients. “We’re very collaborative,” she reiterates. “It’s not us against the client. It’s us working together with the client to get them the best result possible. We’re very much on the client’s side. We won’t agree to things that are not achievable and then use the contract against the client – and our estimating team is very technically capable, they know what’s achievable and what’s not, and they assess every contract before signing it.” “We present reasonable schedules, we make sure that the supply chain is in line with what the client needs,” she continues. “And if we can’t do something, we let the client know. We’re honest and upfront. We never want to put ourselves in a situation where things are contentious between us and the client. We want to do the opposite – we want to make things as easy as possible for the client, because we know that’s what will make them want to come back.” By being so collaborative with clients in the early stages of a project, Matra is able to set realistic and achievable timelines and budgets. That ability is also a credit to the company’s contemporary industry knowledge. According OCTOBER 2023

to Kelsey, they are always very aware of what’s going on in the city when it comes to permitting and approvals, and they are equally aware of what’s going on with their suppliers when it comes to material availability and their subtrades when it comes to their availability. “We know where our risks are right now,” Kelsey explains. “The information from two years ago is not the information from today. We keep our finger on the pulse. We stay engaged with our clients, subtrades and suppliers.” “We’re also small enough that when we learn something new, we can quickly disseminate that information through the company,” she adds. “And if there’s an issue, we can react quickly and find a temporary or alternative solution. That helps keep us meet our schedule and budget obligations.” All that said, Kelsey emphasizes that meetings budgets and deadlines is not what actually sets Matra apart: “Just getting the project done on schedule and on budget means nothing,” she says. “That’s just our literal contractual obligation. What means something is the experience. At the end of the project, the client should have such a valuable experience that they want to do it again with us.” “A valuable experience means providing quality. Once again, the company’s high percentage of repeat business is testimony to that – after all, clients wouldn’t keep coming back if they weren’t happy with how the product was performing”. Kelsey credits that performance to the calibre and longevity of the company’s staff. She says they employ some highly THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

experienced industry experts both on site and in the office, and she says many of those team members have been with Matra for a long time, so they understand the company’s expectations in terms of quality and the standards they have to uphold. In the early months of the pandemic, the three partners made tough decisions which were so focused on keeping the team together. She recalls. “I remember thinking ‘This is why I’m here. These are the kind of people I want to work with.’” At the same time, Kelsey says she also appreciates the high standards that the company sets for employees: “It’s very clear within our walls that there are some really capable, really smart, very dedicated people,” she says. “When I look around and I see that, I get inspired. And that starts right from the owners. They’re just as dedicated as anyone. They are very willing to jump and help with something and get their hands dirty. They like to say that ‘We’re all in this together’ – and they back that up with their actions.” OCTOBER 2023


Growth and stability Moving forward, Matra’s vision is to continue building strong and lasting relationships with all stakeholders – with clients, employees, and subcontractors and suppliers. Their vision also includes getting bigger – but not too much bigger and not too quickly. “Our vision is stable, thoughtful growth,” Kelsey explains. “We want to make sure that our foundation is strong enough to maintain whatever next layer we build onto it.” As part of strengthening their foundation, Matra is currently refining their internal processes to better facilitate mentoring and professional development within their ranks. They give their employees the opportunity OCTOBER 2023


to work with different people, learn new skills, and generally take next step forward in their careers. As for the kind of work they want to do, Kelsey says they want to remain flexible. Their team has the capacity to do both smaller and larger projects, and they want to keep doing both. The bigger projects are now their bread and butter, but they don’t want to leave the smaller projects behind. If there’s ever a dip in the market, they want to be able to stay busy and keep their team together. “The important thing is that we’re really servicing our clients and providing a great experience,” Kelsey concludes. “If we continue doing that, I foresee stable growth for many years.” OCTOBER 2023

THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA For more on Matra, their values, their services, and their past projects – and to get in touch with their expert team, including Kelsey – visit

Requesting perfection

Photo: Suite Six Design



Brownstone Estates, led by founder and director Cody Brown, is an acclaimed Winnipeg builder of high-end luxury homes. Throughout their seven-year history, they have primarily designed and built homes on spec and then marketed and sold the finished products, but in recent years they have started working more and more for clients directly. In a short time, they have become one of the premier options in Winnipeg and Kenora for clients looking for beautifullydesigned and immaculatelyfinished custom estate homes. Though Brownstone Estates was only founded seven years ago, Cody has personally been working in construction since he was 16 years old. Prior to starting his own business, he spent close to 15 years working with Maple Leaf Construction, a local heavy civil construction company. While in that role, he bought a new house for his growing family and attempted several times to hire a contractor to renovate it. His bad experiences made him realize there was a niche in the market: “The first contractor I called I worked with for a few months, but when it came time to start the job I asked him some questions that he didn’t have the answers for,” Cody recalls. “I got cold feet, he could sense that, and he kept asking for a deposit. I kept asking more questions and then all of a sudden he just kind of ghosted me. He stopped answering calls. Ultimately that was for the best because the budget he had given us turned out to be wrong for the work that actually needed to be done.” “So I moved on to another builder and asked for help,” he continues. “He said ‘yes,’ so I started working with him. Then I said ‘Okay, so we need an architect, we need to some demolition, et cetera.’ He said ‘Oh, you take care of that stuff and we’ll help you once you got it all ready to go.’ So that guy wasn’t much of a help.” OCTOBER 2023 Photo: Suite Six Design


“I finally found a third contractor,” he goes on. “I checked out his previous work, I was happy with the workmanship, so we started to chat. Then I started to do a little bit of research and I found a lot of Court of Queen’s mentions against him. So I started getting leery of him.” “Finally, I decided ‘You know what? I’m just going to try to do this on my own.’ I’d been a project manager for six-orseven years at that time. I’d been doing road construction and parking lots, but I thought ‘If I can manage those guys, I can probably manage these guys.’ So I did my own house. I hired my own subcontractors. By the end, I realized I kind of enjoyed it. I thought maybe I could do it again.” From there, Cody started building spec houses. A few successful projects later, he decided to leave his previous job and strike out on his own. Inspired by his own negative experience working with homebuilders, his vision was to create a company that would “do things the right way.” These days, Brownstone Estates still largely works on spec, and they mostly build luxury estate homes – hence the company name. In terms of value, their projects typically range from $2.5 million to $5 million. Even within that high-end niche, Cody believes what sets his product apart is the extremely high quality: “I only use high-end materials,” he says. “I don’t compromise on anything when it comes to the building envelope. If I’m putting my name on something, I want it to stand the test of time. Any home I build has to be built to last.” OCTOBER 2023 Photo: Suite Six Design

“I don’t usually have a budget,” he adds. “I typically just finish the home to as high a standard as I can possibly finish it. The people who come through these homes can see that and feel that. I think that feeling is what our clients respond to. I think that’s why the company has been so successful.” In addition, Cody is personally involved in every aspect of every home he builds. He takes pride in that personal involvement and never wants to grow to the point where it’s compromised: “I never want to grow to the point where I can’t be personally involved with every project,” he says. “I want to be able to be on-site. I want to be there to ensure the workmanship and the quality is being delivered to the standard I expect.” Of course, Cody can’t do everything himself. He also relies on a roster of dedicated and talented subcontractors – those are partners that he carefully vets, and if they can’t perform to his expectations after two jobs they won’t work for him again. “I’ve gone through some different trades throughout the years,” he says. “Not everyone can deliver the workmanship and quality that I demand, so I’ve had to some searching around. I just feel like sometimes you have to request perfection.” “At the same time, I also have some trades who have been with me right from my very first personal house until now,” he adds. “I couldn’t do what I do without them.” One of the company’s subcontractors is VersaPile – they are a Winnipegbased company of experts when it comes to the design THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA Photo: Suite Six Design

and installation of helical foundations. VersaPile is a Certified Aboriginal Business that was formed in 2011. In the years since, they have assembled a world-class team of highly-trained and relentlessly-motivated design and engineering professionals, and that team has installed thousands of helical piles across Central Canada and Northwest Ontario. Although VersaPile specializes in large-scale industrial and institutional projects – they design and install deep foundations for hydro transmission lines, substations, wireless and telecommunication towers, oil and gas facilities and pipelines, industrial facilities, municipal and government projects – they also do some helical and screw piles for custom estate home foundations in Winnipeg and Kenora. Cody values the experience and professionalism they bring to their residential work. “To achieve quality, you need to work with people who take pride in what they do,” Cody says. “The people I work with right now take just as much pride in their work as I do. They care. That goes a long way.” OCTOBER 2023 Photo: Suite Six Design


The right fit Although Brownstone Estates still works primarily on spec, in recent years Cody has experimented more with building directly for clients. His first foray was a couple years ago, when his brother-in-law’s mother – someone he’d known since he was a kid – was looking for a new home and the home Brownstone currently had for sale was a little too big for her. “She asked if I would build the house that she wanted,” Cody recalls. “She was family, so I thought it would be safe to test the waters with her. And I had an unbelievable experience. She was great to work with. I did that home, and then I built for my brother-in-law, I’m building for my real estate agent right now, and for the first time I’m about to build a custom home for a client that I didn’t know before.” “So far so good,” he says. “I think the key is sitting down with the clients first and making sure it’s the right fit. I have too many OCTOBER 2023 Photo: Suite Six Design


friends who have built homes and after the fact they had nothing good to say about their builder, it just wasn’t a good experience for them. I don’t want to be that for anybody. I never want to be that guy. I never want to have that reputation.” Moving forward, Cody’s goal is to continue building the opposite reputation – and he intends to continue building that reputation organically, by delivering undeniably highquality homes and by satisfying the select clients that he chooses to work with. In the future, Cody also envisions working more in Kenora. He recently built his own personal cottage there, as well as a cottage for his brother-in-law, and he’s currently finishing up a spec cottage there that he hopes to put up for sale soon. “We’re testing a new market out there,” Cody says. “The price point that will be on this next cottage is going to be almost double anything else that is sold on the lake. So I’m taking a pretty big risk. The real estate agent at first thought I was crazy, but once he walked through the project and saw the quality and everything that was there, he got it. Now he’s confident that it will sell for what I think it’s worth.” Brownstone Estates owns another eight lots on the lake, and Cody is confident in that investment: “Cottage life is huge right now,” he says. “The value of land on the lake just keeps going up and up and up. I know personally, once my kids get out of school, we spend most of our summer up there together. I believe that’s where people want to go, that’s where they want to be. We’re going to find out soon if I’m right or not.” OCTOBER 2023 Photo: Suite Six Design

THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA Photo: Suite Six Design For more on Brownstone Estates’ past and present projects, in both Winnipeg and Kenora, check out their Instagram at

Meeting people’s needs

Woodland Horizon is a leading supplier of custom kitchen and bath cabinetry to Southern Ontario. Since forming in 2005, they have consistently exceeded their clients’ expectations in terms of both the quality of their products and the attentiveness of their service.

Over the years, they have grown from operating from a small 2,000-square foot facility on a farm in St. Jacobs, to a 20,000-square-foot facility in Drayton, plus a distribution centre in Muskoka. They have also grown from a team of two – founders Laverne and Emma Martin – to a team of over 50 industry-leading professionals. That team is still headed by Laverne, and still powered by the same beliefs and values that impelled Laverne and Emma to their early success. “Our mission has always been, and always will be, to exceed our customer’s expectations in the quality of our products and service,” Laverne says. “We’ll do that by becoming the leaders in design and production, by using the most cutting-edge technology, and by providing the customer with an exceptional buying experience.” When Laverne and Emma first formed Woodland Horizon, they started production with a few simple machines and tools in one end of a driving shed. They originally focused primarily on providing subcontracted high end custom furniture for retail vendors. By 2009, their dream had expanded beyond the confines of their farm, and they made the decision to move to a new facility in the village of Drayton. That move gave them room to expand, while still maintaining the rural lifestyle that Laverne, Emma, and their family cherished. Unfortunately, in 2012, the company experienced a major setback. Early one morning, Laverne received a call alerting him of smoke pouring out of his building. He rushed to the shop in time to see several fire trucks pulling in. He would later learn that the fire had levelled the entire facility to the ground. They were able to rebuild quickly, however, and later that year they reopened a brand new 6,400-square-foot facility. In 2015, Woodland Horizon added 4,800 square feet to that facility, providing space for them OCTOBER 2023


to expand beyond high-end hotel finishings into specialty cabinetry. That year, they also hired their first sales rep, Marlin Sauder, who is now their sales and design manager – Laverne says he was instrumental in that restructuring. Later, in 2018, with the help of another important hire – Clare Weber, now the company’s general manager – Woodland expanded again. That’s when they built another addition to their facility, bringing the total to almost 20,000 square feet. At that time, they also added an additional CNC router, an automatic finishing line, and a robotic storage system for sheet goods. Today, equipped with that technology and staffed with a team of roughly 55 industry professionals, Woodland Horizon primarily services high-end home builders, the kind that do a limited number of luxury homes and cottages per year. According to Laverne, those clients choose Woodland Horizon for several key reasons, but the main reason is their customer service: “We’re here to make their life as easy as possible,” he says, “and we’re here to make the lives of their clients as easy as possible. We bring their client, the homeowners, to our showroom and we deal with them directly. We walk them through the cabinetry process, and we help them make right decisions. There are a lot of decisions to make, but our design team and our sales team does such a great job of walking homeowners through those decisions and making them as easy as possible.” “To us, good service means giving the customer what they need,” he adds, “and to give OCTOBER 2023

them what they need, first we need to figure out what that is. We need to talk with them; we need to have the right conversations. Our customers might not even know at the beginning. It’s our job to help them figure it out.” Laverne stresses the importance of their team to that process. He says that Woodland can only provide customers such a high quality of service because they have such high quality team members. He also says they put a lot of time and effort into developing those team members: “We’re very, very people focused. I like to say that we develop people and we build cabinets on the side. That’s the mentality we have – and I think that mentality flows out into our interactions with customers and our relationships with customers.” Of course, Woodland Horizon also builds a really high quality product, and customers also appreciate that. Laverne says there are other companies that can deliver quality, and he emphasizes that Woodland’s customer service is what truly sets them apart, but he says their quality is definitely up there. Just like their service, he credits that quality to their people: “We believe here that quality control is built into every single person. Every single department in our production facility is responsible for quality. They’re responsible for passing a quality product onto the next department. Our department managers work really hard to install that in our people – to install that everyone is in charge of quality. It’s not just one person, it’s not just one department; it’s everyone.” THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

That approach relies on having talented and dedicated team members. Again, Laverne says that’s why they place such a priority on team building at Woodland. When it comes to that team building, he explains they have learned a lot from Patrick Lencioni, an organisational culture expert and best-selling author who talks and writes about teamwork. “In one of his books, he writes that the ideal team player has to be hungry – they have to want to be there, want to be a part of the team – they have to be humble – not arrogant, not self-centred – and they have to be smart – as in, smart about teams and how they function. If someone has those three attributes, they are the ideal team player and you can teach that person anything.” “So over the last number of years, that’s what we’ve looked for,” he continues. “We’ve really switched from interviewing and hiring based on skills to interviewing and hiring based on attitude and cultural fit. Because you can teach a hungry, humble, smart individual just about anything – and you can teach them quite quickly. And that’s worked out fantastic. We now have a phenomenal team of people. Our people are why we’ve been able to grow and be successful.” Laverne also credits the company’s growth to their extended team members, including their roster of suppliers and vendors. Over the years, he says they have been very loyal to those partners, and that loyalty has been rewarded – particularly during the supply chain shortages of the past couple years. “There were many occasions where suppliers would call us up and say ‘Hey, we’re down to our last two lifts, do you want to put your name on one of them?’ or ‘Hey, just so you know the price is going to go up, do you want to put your name on some old stock?’ That happened over and over and over. That was really helpful during a tough time.” An example of such a supplier is Kipco Hardware, a valuedriven, family-run cabinet hardware supply company that has been operating in Kitchener since 1980. Kipco’s focus is on product quality, brand representation and cordial, knowledgeable customer service. Over the years, they have successfully maintained an every-growing list of happy customers including Woodland Horizon. The team at Woodland highly appreciates their locality, their friendly service, and the family values by which they do business. OCTOBER 2023


The right direction Over the years, Woodland Horizon has grown by leaps and bounds. Moving forward, Laverne says that growth is expected to continue, but they intend to manage it carefully so as not to compromise their quality or service along the way. This year, for example, their goal is simply to maintain what they did last year while they “really focus on systems.” “We’ve implemented some really cool software systems to manage our workflow, to manage our schedule,” Laverne explains. “Now we’re implementing a CRM and we’re implementing some inventory management software. We’re using Web-Cab, which is an MES software system that takes care of scheduling, workflow and inventory management.” “That’s what this year has been about,” he adds. “We’re dialling in on what we do and we’re implementing systems to make OCTOBER 2023


sure we do it well – systems that we can scale with.” “Going forward, we’re looking at a gradual growth curve. We’re targeting 10 to 15 per cent growth per year.” Recently, Woodland Horizon also acquired another large industrial parcel of land in Drayton. In the longer-term – in five-to-10 years, Laverne estimates – their intention is to build another brand new facility there to accommodate their growth. Until then, their plan is to “grow as much as we can into the building we’re in.” Lastly, when it comes to the industries they serve, Laverne says they are comfortable sticking with high-end residential. For the moment at least, they don’t want to dilute what makes them effective by chasing work in other sectors. “I’m not saying we won’t entertain some of those markets at some point, but first we need to make sure we’re very, very solid at what we do,” he says. “With the technology we’re putting in place, and the amazing people we have behind us, I think we’re definitely heading in the right direction.” OCTOBER 2023

THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA For more on Woodland Horizon, their mission, their services, and photos of their past projects – and to get in touch with Laverne and his team – visit

Requesting perfection PLAEX Building Systems Inc. is a Canadian company committed to manufacturing environmentally-responsible, simple-to-use, and innovative green building materials, made from unused and underused plastic and construction waste.

In supplying those green materials, their vision is to contribute to the construction of eco-friendly, sustainable structures that will for last for generations while saving time and energy costs. How will they contribute to that future? The answer starts with the company’s innovative PLAEX-crete™ composite, which is made from 90 per cent recycled waste materials. The look, feel and weight of that composite is similar to concrete, but it’s not susceptible to the same issues that plague concrete, such as freezing, splitting, and cracking. Using PLAEX-crete™, PLAEX produces modular construction blocks that don’t require cutting or mortar, producing fully interlocking building systems that make assembly of those blocks safe and simple. These systems can be used in various low-rise construction projects, from retaining walls and flood walls, to sheds, foundations, and even entire wall systems. The resulting structures are cost-effective, environmentallysustainable, and they stand the test of time in terms of quality and durability – making them an effective solution to many of the challenges currently facing both the building industry and the planet. Finding those kinds of solutions has long been the goal of Dustin Bowers, founder and CEO of PLAEX Building Systems. Dustin comes from a deep background in the construction industry. His grandfather was a tool and die smith, his father is a carpenter, two of his uncles are carpenters, and he personally started working on job sites at a young age. Over the years, he’s experienced the industry at virtually every level – he started off sweeping on job sites at seven year olds, and before starting PLAEX he was managing multi-million dollar residential and light commercial projects in Vancouver. The inspiration for PLAEX came in 2017, shortly after the birth OCTOBER 2023