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 taken a look at a diverse array of builders, designers, and suppliers to the building industry – including some companies that can accurately be described as all three. Laurysen Kitchens is a prime example of that versatility. Over morethan-50 years of business in Ottawa, they have developed unrivalled industry expertise in manufacturing, design, and customer service – and in the process, they have accumulated more than 70 industry awards for design excellence and customer satisfaction. We caught up with Corey Laurysen, Vice President of Sales & Service, and a representative of the third generation of Laurysen ownership. He talked to us about the history of the family business, the evolution of their capabilities and expertise, and he talked a lot about recent years – since he and his brother Michael came aboard, the company has modernized and expanded significantly. Corey also talked to us about the near future – Laurysen Kitchens is soon to be open a brand new showroom in downtown Ottawa, and is in the midst of construction on an expanded 110,000-square-foot facility. Those efforts are expected to greatly increase their capacity and open up new avenues for growth in Ottawa, Ontario, and beyond. Harwood Design Builders is another versatile company featured in this issue. They are one of Winnipeg’s leading designers and builders of top-quality home renovations and additions. They are also one of Winnipeg’s most awarded design-build teams, backed by a long list of accolades from bodies such as, the Manitoba Home Builders Association (MHBA), and the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA). Most recently, at the 2023 MHBA Awards, Harwood Design Builders won the RenoMark Renovation Award for ‘Outdoor Structure Renovation,’ bringing their total count of awards to well over 60. We spoke to co-owners and Jeff Halstead and Trevor Bjarnarson about that recent award-winning project, their history of industry recognition in general, and also about how the company has evolved since they took over from founder Wayne Sage a little over a year ago. This edition also includes another award-winning full-service designbuild company, also based in Winnipeg – a company called Make it Home. In their case, they have been recognized as the winner of 18 RenoMark Renovation Awards from MHBA, and four National Awards for Housing Excellence from the CHBA, all in the last 10 years. Doreen Gauthier, founder and owner of the company, talked to us about that award-winning streak and about the quality and personalized service that has made it possible. For those stories – and more stories about multi-faceted, versatile companies, much like the companies named above – 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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Dream kitchens

Laurysen Kitchens is a familyowned-and-operated business that has been providing clients with affordable, topquality cabinetry for over 50 years. In that time, they have developed unrivalled expertise in manufacturing, design, and customer service, and they have accumulated more than 70 industry awards for design excellence and customer satisfaction. Today, they are well known in Ottawa and across Ontario as the destination for “dream kitchens” – kitchens that stand the test of time in terms of quality and durability, and that match the individual style, budget, and wants and needs of the client. “We won’t talk clients into a design or style that they don’t want or need,” says Corey Laurysen, Vice President of Sales & Service. “Instead, we learn about their needs and their style, and create the perfect kitchen for them.” “Our edge is our hands-on approach to business,” he adds. “We constantly strive to maintain personal relationships with each and every one of our clients. After all, the Laurysen family name is on our product.” Laurysen Kitchens was first created in 1970 by John and Adri Laurysen and was originally called ‘John Laurysen Custom Cabinets.’ They started in out a small garage of about 1,200 square feet. These days, the company manufactures out of a 55,000-square-foot facility and employs over 130 team members. In 1994, John passed on and was succeeded by his children, Bill Laurysen and Caroline Castrucci. Bill is now the COO of the company and Caroline is the CEO. Bill’s children Corey and Michael officially joined the SEPTEMBER 2023


family business in 2010, and together they represent the third generation of Laurysen Kitchens. Corey now serves as the Vice President of Sales & Service, while Michael serves as the Vice President of Operations. Since joining Laurysen Kitchens about 13 years ago, both Corey and Michael have helped the company modernize significantly: “When my brother and I came in, we really wanted to bring the company into the future,” Corey recalls. “We knew that the industry was getting very webbased. All our customers were doing research online – and we had one of the worst websites I’ve ever seen. So revamping the website was one of the first steps we took towards rebranding the company and giving it a face lift.” “Within a year and a half of being there, we also changed the company logo to what it is now,” he adds. “We really wanted to bring the company into the future.” According to Corey, those efforts quickly paid off. In the years since revamping their online presence, he says they have noticed a significant difference in terms of lead generation. Over the years, they have received also received a high volume of positive feedback from customers about the website, particularly its effectiveness as a “starting point” in the process of shopping for a kitchen. Today, Laurysen Kitchens provides a wide range of stylish, functional design ideas to suit all tastes and budgets. Their specialties include design and manufacturing of not just kitchen cabinets, SEPTEMBER 2023


but also bathroom vanities, custom closets, and millwork. Their clients include direct retail customers, contractors, renovators, designers, and dealers across Ottawa and Ontario. The majority of the company’s work is with contractors and renovators. Corey believes those clients choose Laurysen Kitchens due to their “open and transparent” customer service. “I think that transparency really sets us apart from our competition,” he explains. “Builders want to know where their orders are and when they are coming. We give them access to a portal that allows them to track the progress of their orders throughout our production facility.” “Within that portal, they can track orders that are being placed months in advance,” he adds. “They can adjust their construction schedules accordingly. For example, if they see that we’re ahead of schedule, maybe they can move their house ahead of schedule. That information is really valuable to them.” Laurysen Kitchens also provides a wide array of products in a variety of colours – that depth of selection is another key point of difference, especially when it comes to their contractor clients. “We can accommodate a wide variety of project types,” Corey says. “We can work with really high-end builders and we can work with builders who are more budget-conscious, who are building apartments and low-income housing. Our product mix allows us to service a lot of different clients. That also sets us apart.” SEPTEMBER 2023

No matter the price point, however, Laurysen Kitchens can always be counted on to provide a high standard of quality. Corey believes that’s another point of difference. As evidence of their quality, Corey points to the company’s certification by the Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association (CKCA) – the CKCA certification program is a national voluntary standard, the only one of its kind in Canada for the kitchen cabinet industry. Their standard is performance-based. It measures quality based on the performance of the cabinet using a series of rigorous tests designed and conducted at an ISO17025 testing facility run by one of the world’s leading laboratory-based testing groups. The ‘CKCA Assured’ logo is industry-recognized proof that Laurysen can deliver consistent quality products that their customers can trust. As further evidence, Corey cites the many awards and accolades that Laurysen Kitchens has received over the years. To date, the company has been recognized with over 70 industry awards from bodies such as the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA). Most recently, at the 2023 NKBA Design Excellence Awards, Laurysen Kitchens won the prestigious Doris Lacroix Award – which recognizes exceptional accomplishments and contributions to the Ottawa NKBA Chapter and the kitchen and bath industry Corey partly credits that history of industry recognition to the company’s stringent quality control. He explains that they carefully review their products for quality at every stage of the THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

process: “We review basically every cabinet that comes off our production line. It has to be signed off by a department lead as it comes off and before it gets wrapped. Then it goes to site and it gets installed, and we do a walkthrough of the site within 24-to-48 hours. We do a full assessment of the work that was installed. If there are any issues or defects, we make note of it and we get a head start on resolving it.” “The other thing we do is we take photos of everything and we keep them in our system,” Corey explains. “So if we see a problem, we can refer back to the install photos. We can see if the installer missed something. A lot of the time, we’ll notice the issue before we even step foot on site and we can start the service process right away.” That quality assurance – combined with their transparent service and their depth of selection – has translated into long-lasting relationships with clients. According to Corey, they have been working with some of the same builders for 25-plus years. At the same time, Laurysen Kitchens is also a growing company, so they have a lot of newer relationships too – Corey’s hope is those relationships become similarly longstanding with time. Corey further credits that customer loyalty to one more factor – the fact that Laurysen is a family business, and the family is accessible to clients. “Ownership is only a phone call away,” he explains. “If something comes up, if the client has an issue, they can pick up the phone and talk to someone with the last name Laurysen.” “That’s one of the benefits of being a family business,” he adds. “Clients are always just a ‘hello’ away from someone at the top. There’s always a family member on hand, so their questions will never get lost in an endless journey up the corporate ladder.” In addition to working with builders, Laurysen Kitchens also deals directly with retail customers, who they host at their own showroom in Stittsville, located right next to their manufacturing facility. Corey believes those direct clients like working with Laurysen for similar reasons as builders: “I think everyone does their research prior to coming in,” he says. “We’re a well-established name in the Ottawa community with a great reputation. We’re very highly-ranked on Google. We generate a lot of leads from our website, which we’re constantly updating. We also got a tonne of referral business – people tend to speak very highly of us, which obviously means we’re doing something right. Lastly, Laurysen Kitchens also supplies to a network of 50-plus dealers across Ontario – those dealers do their own designs and installations, Laurysen simply supplies them with the product. In recent years, Corey says that network has “come a long way” and he credits that growth to their product selection. “We offer a massive array of products that can really address a lot of different communities,” Corey reiterates. “What’s selling in Toronto isn’t necessarily what’s selling up in Sudbury – but we have the product offering to satisfy both markets. We can market ourselves to various communities across Ontario and Quebec and even northern New York.” SEPTEMBER 2023

Getting bigger and better Over the years, Laurysen Kitchens has not only formed longstanding relationships with their customers, but also with their roster of suppliers and vendors. Some of those relationships go back even further than their relationships with builders – according to Corey, some began in the early years of Laurysen Kitchens and have lasted over five decades. “We have the best relationships with our suppliers,” he says. “We have really longstanding relationships, and I think that gives us some clout and leeway. If we need something on short notice, they’ll do us a favour – and when the shoes on the other foot, we’ll do them a favour.” “We aren’t bringing anything in from China,” he adds. “Everything is made in either North America or Europe. And as much as we can, we try to support local. We try to support THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

the Canadian economy. I think our customers like seeing that.” An example of a key supplier is Premoulé – they are of North America’s leaders in post-formed countertops and custom cabinet doors and accessories. With six plants, four cutting stations, and more than 500 employees throughout Quebec and Ontario, Premoulé has the capacity to offer the most complete customized program of countertop, doors, accessories and components in the industry, and they have the presence to respond to the needs of their customers quickly and efficiently. Another important partner is GRASS Canada – the Canadian branch of GRASS Movement Systems, an international group of companies that ranks among the world’s leading specialists in movement systems. GRASS’ drawer, slide, hinge and flap systems are brandname products that move the furniture of prestigious brands. Like Laurysen, GRASS is very longstanding – as a development partner and systems supplier to the furniture industry internationally, they has have creating products that inspire customers for over 70 years, while GRASS Canada has been serving the Canadian market for more than 20 years. Moving forward, Laurysen Kitchens’ goal is to maintain their relationships with suppliers of that calibre – and with the help of those suppliers, they aim to continue growing the company. To support that growth, they recently purchased a new 28,000-square-foot facility located at 7 Industrial St. in Carleton Place. Even more recently, they started construction on an expansion of that facility, which will bring it to about 110,000-square-feet. When construction is complete, that new expanded facility will be Laurysen Kitchens’ new base SEPTEMBER 2023


of operations. The plan is to be up-and-running there by Q1 or Q2 of 2024. “We’re going to greatly increase our capacity,” Corey explains. “Currently, we can comfortably produce about 200 cabinets a day. With the new facility – and with the new machines we’ve purchased, which are faster and more efficient – that number is going to go up to 300-to-350 cabinets a day.” In addition, Laurysen Kitchens also recently purchased a new showroom downtown, which is expected to open by either December this year or January next year. That showroom – which they are going to call their ‘Design Experience Centre’ – will be the new home of the company’s sales staff. That new location, in the middle of town, will bring the company closer to their customers and the source of most of their sales. Lastly, backed by their increased capacity and new showroom, Laurysen Kitchens intends to get a lot bigger – “to take on new accounts, to get into new markets, to bid more, to expand into Quebec and New York and potentially even further,” Corey says. “During COVID, we had to turn down about 1,500 units a year just because we didn’t have the capacity to do them,” Corey adds. “The new facility and the new equipment will give us that capacity. We’ll be able to take on more projects and bigger projects. We’ll be able to do more apartment projects, for example. It used to be we could only do one of those at a time due to capacity constraints. Those constraints are lifting.” SEPTEMBER 2023

For more on Laurysen Kitchens, their products, their services, and their long list of awards – and to get in touch with their team, including Corey – visit THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

Uncompromising design and quality construction

Harwood Design Builders is one of Winnipeg’s leading designers and builders of topquality home renovations and additions. Since forming in 1999, they have become one of most awarded builders in the city and province, recognized for both the quality of their delivery and the transparency of their service. Over the years, that reputation has been consistently reinforced by industry awards and recognitions from bodies such as, the Manitoba Home Builders Association, and the Canadian Home Builders Association. Most recently, at the 2023 MHBA Awards, Harwood Design Builders won the RenoMark Renovation Award for ‘Outdoor Structure Renovation.’ That brings their total count of awards and accolades to well over 60. “We don’t design homes to win awards,” says Jeff Halstead, co-owner of the company. “We win awards because of uncompromising design and quality construction.” “Quality renovations and construction are our number one priority but it’s always nice when you’re recognized for your high standards for renovations and construction excellence,” adds Trevor Bjarnarson, also a co-owner. Harwood Design Builders was originally founded by Wayne Sage, an industry veteran who guided the company from a small one-man-show to one of the most awarded design build teams in Manitoba. Jeff, for his part, joined that team 16 years ago, while Trevor joined 13 years ago. Jeff and Trevor are now also industry veterans – Jeff’s been in construction for 30 years, while Trevor’s been in SEPTEMBER 2023


the industry for 20. About two years ago, Wayne started thinking about retirement, and he approached Jeff about taking over the company. A little while later, they brought Trevor in on the discussion. “We talked about it, and Wayne said he wasn’t going to sell to anyone but us,” Jeff recalls. “He actually had other offers for more money, but we were the ones he trusted. He knew we shared the same values. We would live up to the reputation he had worked so hard to earn.” When Jeff and Trevor took over, their goal was to grow the company – and over the past year, they have successfully done that. From a personnel perspective, they recently added a second designer and three more carpenters, bringing their direct team to about 19 people total. They have also increased their volume of work, as this year is shaping up to be one of the company’s busiest ever. Meanwhile, from a project perspective, Harwood Design Builders these days focuses on higher-end renovations and additions, with the occasional kitchen renovation to fill the time between bigger jobs. According to Jeff, clients with those larger-scale jobs tend to choose Harwood for a few major reasons. One of those reasons is their in-house design capabilities. “Our clients work with our inhouse designers on every step of the project,” Jeff explains. “When we first go and measure the house, the designer usually comes with us. That’s extremely helpful.” By getting to know the client so SEPTEMBER 2023

well, Harwood’s designers are able to come up with design solutions that suit their space and that are extremely specific to their wants and needs. And because those designers are in-house, Harwood is also able to ensure that their designs are realistically priced and within the client’s actual budget and timetable. Another point of difference is that on every project, Harwood Design builders appoints a project manager who will be there throughout the project’s duration. That manager coordinates with the trades, is always aware of what’s going on on-site, and is always available to the client if they have any questions or concerns. “That seems to go a long way with our customers,” Jeff says. “They like that they are able to communicate consistently with the same familiar face. They don’t have to deal with 20 different people throughout the project. They have one point of contact who understands their project and who can act as their representative on site.” Harwood Design Builders is also very stringent with trades when it comes to cleaning up the job site at the end of the day – that’s yet one more point of difference, according to Jeff. “That’s something we demand,” he says. “We have to clean up at the end of the day. We don’t leave a mess. We don’t leave garbage all over the place. We make sure our vehicles are off driveways. That’s something we really drive home to our team on-site – we’re working in our client’s personal space, and we have to respect that space.” Then there’s the company’s policy of complete transparency, THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

SEPTEMBER 2023 especially when it comes to their billing. According to Trevor, that sets them apart in the eyes of clients long before they even get to site: “Our customers get copies of all receipts and invoices,” he explains. “They know exactly what we’re paying our subcontractors and suppliers. Our margins are clearly stated to our customers. We’re 100 per cent transparent. In our billing, our clients can see exactly how we get to the numbers we get to. Every single cost is itemized.” Finally, customers also appreciate the quality that Harwood Design Builders achieves by the end of every project. That quality is reflected in the company’s history of industry award recognition, and Trevor believes that history gives clients a lot of confidence when they choose Harwood. He in turn credits that recognition to the talent and dedication of their in-house team – he estimates that about 80 per cent of their work is self-performed by that team, as they try to rely as little on subcontractors as possible. “All our carpenters are trained to frame, finish, drywall, tape, install millwork, et cetera,” he says. “That gives us a lot of control over not just our quality but also our timelines.” Many of those trained professionals have been with Harwood Design builders for many years. Jeff and Trevor – at 16 years, and 13 years respectively – are two prime examples. “We have another guy who was hired two weeks after I was,” Jeff says. “We have two more guys who have been here 14 years. We have someone who’s been

LUXURY FENESTRATION LOEWEN.COM Lyon Architecture | Paul Burk Photography THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA here almost 10 years. We have someone else who’s been here for about eight years. Once we get our guys trained up to our specifications, we like to keep them, for sure.” “We have very low turnover,” Trevor adds. “That’s very unusual in construction – and it’s very valuable, because finding qualified carpenters right now is extremely difficult. We feel like it’s important we hold on to the ones we have.” The company feels similarly about their roster of trusted subcontractors. Though they strive to self-perform as much as possible, they still rely on a select roster of trades including plumbers, electricians, and HVAC professionals. Harwood’s relationships with those partners also tend to be very longstanding, with some having worked with the company as long as or longer than Jeff and Trevor. “The companies we partner with do really high quality work and they’re great with our clients,” Trevor says. “Those are musts for us. If we try out someone new and they’re just not good with the customer, or they don’t clean up after themselves, then we don’t use them again”

Industry recognized As previously mentioned, Harwood Design Builders recently won the RenoMark Renovation Award for ‘Outdoor Structure Renovation’ at the 2023 MHBA Awards. In that case, the award-winning project was a pool house they called ‘Welcome to Margaritaville!’ That project was designed by a third-party designer – someone who used to work with Harwood, and who recommended them to the client as builders. That meant the team at Harwood didn’t have a lot of input during the design process, but they were familiar with the brief: “The client wanted it to feel like they were in Mexico, essentially,” Trevor says. “Living in Winnipeg through our winters, they thought it would be nice to be able to have that coastal feeling in the summer.” Jeff, meanwhile, was actually on the tools on that project, so it SEPTEMBER 2023


has a special place in his heart: “I was out there with the concrete guy staking out the pad for the structures. I coordinated with the plumbers and electricians to put buried wires in the ground. I dealt with the pool guy to make sure that none of the pipes for the pool were in the wrong spot. I did custom louvres for the shower area. For the custom swings on the front, I made sure the beams would support the weight of anybody sitting on it. It was a really interesting project.” “I just loved the whole design of the thing,” he says. “They had a great big backyard, so they had a lot of space to work with, and I think they really made the most of it.” “I think what really makes it stand out is the bold colors,” Trevor adds. “The color scheme really makes it pop and make sit stand out from other pool houses you’d see in the city. It’s really nice. The clients were a big part of that. They had a lot of ideas about the colors and the finishings and they all turned out to be good ones.” In addition to being well received by Harwood’s peers in the industry, that project was also well received by the client. According to Jeff, “they absolutely loved it.” “They have told me a couple times that they enjoy it every summer. Unfortunately, they can only look at it through the back window of their house during the winter time, but when summer comes they take full advantage of it. They just rave about it.” Moving forward, Harwood Design Builders’ goal is to continue earning those raves – and to earn more of them on a yearly basis, as the company intends to grow and increase their output. In the near future, Jeff and Trevor see part of that growth occurring in nearby cottage country, where they hope to take on more projects by the lake. That’s a bit of a drive for them, but they recognize that there’s a large demand for building out there, and thus lots of growth opportunity. Also, it’s just “a beautiful area to work in,” Jeff says, and they are excited about getting the chance to do that. “The construction industry isn’t slowing down,” Trevor concludes. “There’s a lot of room to grow if we choose to do so, and we’re excited about seeing what the future has in store.” SEPTEMBER 2023

For more on Harwood Design builders, their services, their past projects, and their award recognition – and to get in touch with Jeff, Trevor, and their team – visit THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

Making it easy

Make It Home Ltd is a fullservice design-build renovation company that services clients within Winnipeg and the surrounding area. They provide a full range of renovation and addition services – including kitchen renovations, bathroom renovations, basement renovations, additions, and whole home renovations. Their specialty is residential renovations from start to finish – they provide assistance with concept design, design drawings, budget preparation, and complete installation services of the entire project “Our objective is to coordinate your project from conception to completion,” says Doreen Gauthier, president and founder of the company. “Our renovation consultants work with you to create realistic budgets, workable installation schedules and walk you through the design process. Our satisfaction is in creating the process that you enjoy and get excited about. In our perfect world, it’s all about you and creating your individual style in a space uniquely suited to you and your family.” Doreen first started Make It Home Ltd in the fall of 2004. Prior to that, she had completed an Architectural Drafting Certificate program at Red River College, and had spent several years working for structural engineers, architects, and interior designers. At the time, she observed there were a lot of companies providing design-build services in the commercial sector, but there were not many in the residential renovation space. Make It Home Ltd was one of the first. “I started with smaller renovation projects where a designer usually isn’t part of the SEPTEMBER 2023


Flooring That Fits your Every Need… your Taste your Lifestyle your Budget Life, made enjoyable. Let our experts take the guesswork out of finding the best flooring solutions for your home, cottage, condo/apartment or business. Our professional service includes product selection assistance, on site measuring, site preparation, supply and installation. H-844 McLeod Ave, Winnipeg, MB R2G 2T7 T: 204-663-0203 F: 204-669-8105 E: Locally owned and proudly serving Manitoba for over 30 years! showroom scope,” she recalls. “I thought those projects could really benefit from having a designerlead renovation experience. Then as the company grew the projects got bigger.” In the early years, Make It Home’s projects typically ranged in value from $20,000 to $30,000. These days, nineteen years later, they will do projects in that range – but most of their projects tend to hover around $200,000 to $300,000 in value, and some twice that. Within that niche, Doreen believes that clients initiate projects with Make It Home Ltd because of their personalized approach. “We’re always focused on the client and whatever gets them to their next decision and ultimately to end of their project,” she adds. “We want to make things as easy on them as possible. That’s always front and centre in our minds. We want them to have a great renovation experience – start to finish!” Over the years, Make It Home has generated almost all of their work from word of mouth and referrals. They also get a lot of repeat work. In fact, one of their projects this year was their fourth with a particular client – first their second floor, then their basement, then they did some exterior work, and now they are back to renovate their main floor. Doreen credits that loyalty the company’s aforementioned personal service, as well as their aforementioned commitment to “making things easy” for clients during what can potentially be a stressful time. Of course, that customer loyalty SEPTEMBER 2023

is also a testament to the quality that Make It Home provides. Over the years, that quality has also been recognized with a long list of industry accolades and awards from respected industry bodies. Since 2013, for example, the company has been the winner of 18 RenoMark Renovation Awards from the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association (MHBA), and four National Awards for Housing Excellence from the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA). (Recently, at the 2023 MHBA Milestone Awards, Make It Home was also recognized for being a 10 Year Member.) According to Doreen, that history of industry recognition is largely a credit to the company’s tried-and-true roster of subcontractors and tradespeople. She says they have been working with many of those partners for over 15 years now: “We work with the same people over and over and over again,” she says. “Our expectations are well communicated to everyone we work with.” Speaking of communication, Doreen says that’s the key with subcontractors. She says the partners they stick with are the “ones who communicate well.” “We’re looking to create longlasting partnerships,” she says. “We’re looking to work together. When we quote a project, we want to be able to quote it as a team. So we need their input. It’s not that we secure the client and then we secure our contractors – we secure our contractors and then we secure our client.” “A lot of the same goes for our suppliers,” she adds. “We work with the same people over and over again. We have some suppliers who have been with us from the beginning, all 19 years. The reps have changed as their staff has turned over – but they actually haven’t changed a lot. With some of our main suppliers, I can count on one hand the number of reps we’ve dealt with in their showrooms. We’ve had a lot of continuity and that’s been very valuable.” THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

Making people happy Recently, Make It Home completed a whole home renovation on in Winnipeg’s Island Lakes neighborhood. Doreen and her team started working with the clients about four years ago. At the time, the client was looking for a new home, but they were unsatisfied with the options that were out there. “They felt like they were going to have to pay top dollar and still they weren’t going to be getting something they were satisfied with,” Doreen says. “So we did some work together, and eventually they decided they could better achieve what they wanted with a renovation.” “We ended up doing the entire main floor and the entire basement, and now it looks like a brand new house.” What those clients wanted, Doreen explains, “was a really modern house with a modern vibe geared to entertaining” – SEPTEMBER 2023


and that’s exactly what Make It Home provided. “The clients now love their home,” Doreen says. “I think they’re very happy with the choice they made in terms of renovating vs buying new and the house is beautiful.” Moving forward, Make It Home’s goal is to continue helping clients who make that choice. Their goal is not, however, to grow much larger as a company while they do it. So much of their value comes from providing personal service and forming personal relationships with clients, and they never want to grow to a point where that service is compromised. “We get to know all of our clients, and they get to know us,” Doreen says. “They get to know me, they get to know our team and our tradespeople. That familiarity helps us achieve the best results possible. It helps us make everyone happy at the end of the project – and that’s what we’re all about. That’s the most important thing to us – we want our clients to be happy.” SEPTEMBER 2023

For more on Make It Home, their services, their past projects, and to hear from their past clients – and to get in touch with Doreen and her team – visit THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

Growing together

Innova Developments is a Calgary-based general contracting and construction management company that was formed with the goal of “redefining the commercial construction experience through communication, education, and innovation.”

Jeff Richards, the company’s founder and president, comes from a background in the oil and gas industry, and when he started in construction over 10 years ago he found the typical client-contractor model to be flawed and toooften-adversarial. When he decided to start his own company, he wanted to do things differently. He wanted to apply the professional project management tactics and fundamentals he had learned in oil and gas and deliver projects more efficiently – and in the process, he wanted to create long-term, high-value relationships with clients, and build a business on the back of repeat work and word of mouth. Over the past nine years, Jeff’s approach has proved successful. Since forming in 2014, Innova Developments has formed close-knit and repeat relationships with a number of clients. Many of those clients have grown steadily and significantly in the time they have been working together, and Innova has grown alongside them. “From our roots in Calgary, our company has grown to serve individuals and businesses across Western Canada,” Jeff says. “Right beside us, we have had the pleasure of watching our commercial construction clients grow from small operations to multi-provincial chains.” “We like to work with growing businesses because it’s very easy to relate to them,” he adds, “since we have our own growing business. We can come up with a long-term strategy where we grow our businesses together.” Today, from their head office in SEPTEMBER 2023


Calgary, Innova Developments is strategically located to tackle projects across Western Canada, working wherever their client needs them throughout Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. They offer general contracting, construction management, and owner representation in all forms of commercial projects, and they have the ability to execute on a wide range of typologies, including: restaurants, offices, healthcare facilities, lifestyle facilities, and institutional buildings. Size-wise, their projects typically range in value from $200,000 to $1 million. No matter the size or typology of their project, however, Jeff believes that clients choose Innova for the same reasons. One of the main reasons is their emphasis on relationshipbuilding: “We’re focused on creating longterm, 20-year relationships with all of our clients,” he explains. “We value that relationship above all else. The relationship is more important than any immediate profit. We believe there’s much more value in building a relationship that’s going to last a long time than making a little bit more money on a single project.” According to Jeff, Innova Developments is able to successfully build such longterm relationships because they have the flexibility to go wherever clients need them to go – again, they can work all across Western Canada – and also because they have the systems and processes in place to deliver consistent results for relatively consistent costs – which, again, is partly a credit to Jeff’s background in the oil and gas sector. SEPTEMBER 2023

Additionally, Jeff says that they earn client loyalty by being transparent when it comes to pricing: “We work with a very transparent mark-up on all our materials and our subcontractors,” he says. “We build trust that way. We show clients that we’re on their side. I think too often in our industry, clients get to a point where they feel like they are working against their contractors and there are change orders and it gets contentious. With us, we’re trying to align ourselves with our clients. We’re trying to bring down their change orders and bring down their costs so we can get repeat business, because that provides more value for us in the long run.” Innova Developments is also transparent when it comes to timelines – and when they set a timeline, they do everything in their power to make sure they meet it. “That starts with our early planning,” Jeff says. “We list out all our long lead time items and we prioritize ordering those first so that we can ensure materials are showing up when they’re needed.” “No matter how far ahead you order something, however, sometimes there are still issues,” he adds. “That was especially true during COVID. That’s why you always have to have a back-up plan. You have to be creative, you have to able to problem-solve, proposing back-up solutions when issues arise. You have to aggressively attack any potential material delay or labour delay as soon as you learn about them.” Of course, Innova Developments also consistently delivers a quality product – that’s yet one more way they earn and THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

SEPTEMBER 2023 maintain the loyalty of their clients. Jeff again credits that consistency to the company’s systems and processes: “At the end of a project, we have quality control checklists and punch lists that we go through to make sure everything is the way the client wants it,” he explains. “But quality control starts a lot earlier than that. It goes back to the beginning of the project. We do early-stage reviews of shop drawings. We do on-site reviews of cabinetry and millwork. We have quality mandates in all our subcontractor agreements to make sure everyone is meeting quality expectations. We have lots of checks and balances along the way to make sure we’re achieving what the client wants in terms of quality.” Speaking of subcontractors, Jeff says that Innova Developments is very stringent about who they use: “There are a lot of items we go through,” he says. “We look at history, past projects, references – but I think the biggest thing we look for is attention to detail. And I think you can see if a subcontractor has that or not right away. You can see it just in the way their quotes are written. If their presentation is professional and they put a lot of attention to detail into their pricing, that’s a really positive indicator of what they are going to be like on site.” Innova also looks for subcontractors who can communicate in a clear and timely fashion. And in return, they will communicate with their subcontractors in the same manner:


SEPTEMBER 2023 “We give them lots of information up- front and as much notice and as much opportunity to prepare as possible,” Jeff says. “We try to work with them and help them solve problems. We want to make sure the project goes well for them, too. We want them to be happy and excited to be there, because that’s when they’ll do their best work.” Over the years, Innova Developments has formed some really strong and longlasting relationships with their subcontractors, much like they have with their clients. According to Jeff, some of those relationships with subcontractors go back to Innova’s first year in business – and some of their relationships with clients go back just as long. “The majority of our work is repeat business,” he says. “We have clients we’ve done 20-plus projects for. We have a client who we just did two restaurants for and now we have another five in the pipeline for next year.” One example of a repeat client is Leopold’s Tavern, a bar and restaurant chain with locations across British Columbia., Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Innova recently did two simultaneous projects for them, one in Regina and another in Vancouver. That presented an obvious geographic challenge, but Jeff says they were able to keep everything organized due to their use of technology: “We’ve established a really good ability to communicate remotely with our site supervisors and our subcontractors,” he says. “We use video calling, we use construction management software. We make sure we’re constantly communicating and we always know what’s going on.”


Moving forward, Innova Developments’ goal is to continue fostering repeat relationships with clients like Leopold’s Tavern, and to continue growing alongside them throughout Western Canada. “We have substantial room for growth,” Jeff concludes. “Right now we think we have a great model and we’re working with some really great repeat clients. We want to keep improving our processes and keep growing our client base. We really like what we’re doing, it’s working for us, and we’re going to stick with it.” SEPTEMBER 2023

For more on Innova Developments, their approach, their services, and their past projects – and to get in touch with Jeff and his team – visit THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA

Long-lasting quality

Cabinet Central is an awardwinning custom cabinetry company based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. They are passionate about providing clients with locally manufactured custom cabinetry solutions that are tailored to meet the individual needs of their lifestyles and their projects. In recent years, their passion has been repeatedly recognized by industry bodies, publications, and telecasts. For example, the company’s work was recently featured on HGTV’s ‘Trading Up with Mandy Rennehan.’ Even more recently, at the 2023 CHBA Nova Scotia Kohltech Peak Awards, they won the category for ‘Sub-Trade of the Year,’ as well the ‘Most Outstanding Kitchen’ award. “That kind of recognition is very meaningful for us,” says Tim Chaisson, founder and president of the company. “It means we’re doing something right. It means we’re building quality long-lasting products. It also means we’re building quality long-lasting relationships with our clients. It means a lot.” Tim comes from a deep background in cabinetmaking – his father, Rob Chaisson, was in the industry all his life, and the same is true of Tim. Together, Tim and Rob first founded Cabinet Central in 2016. Originally, they purchased all their components from suppliers, assembled them in their shop, and then shipped them to site to install them. About a year in, however, they bought their first CNC and edge banding machines, and they started fabricating themselves. In 2018, they purchased a 55,000-squarefoot building in Amherst, which they renovated and turned into their manufacturing facility. SEPTEMBER 2023


Today, in addition to that facility in Amherst, Cabinet Central also has a showroom at 55 Akerley Boulevard in Dartmouth. Their projects comprise a diverse mix of single residential homes and retail outlets, and their clients include builders, renovators, interior designers, and dealers. A lot of those clients, according to Tim, go back to Cabinet Central’s first year in business. “We’ve been working with a number of builders and renovators since 2016,” he says. “They took a chance on us when we started this company, we’ve delivered for them, and we’ve kept those relationships going strong.” Tim partly credits that customer loyalty to Cabinet Central’s cost-competitiveness combined with their speedy turnaround times. In turn, he credits that efficiency to the equipment they have invested in over the past couple years. This past year they invested heavily into two substantial edge banding machines that they can combine and work as one, which has really sped up the edging process. “That efficiency is pretty enticing to our clients,” he says. “They can get our product in a timely fashion. They’re not waiting 12 weeks for an order. That wins us a lot of jobs.” “Plus, they can get our product for a decent price,” Tim adds. “We’re not always the cheapest, but we’re not the most expensive either. I think our clients appreciate that.” Something else that clients appreciate is the company’s aptitude with design, Tim says: “All of our sales-slash-designers are certified kitchen and bath designers, so they have a SEPTEMBER 2023

great ability to put everything together and help the client achieve a space that’s elegant, unique, and functional.” “Functionality is big for us,” he adds. “That was something my father really valued, and he drilled into our staff. He used to hate it when he’d go into a kitchen in an apartment and there was one drawer for the entire kitchen. So, when we design kitchens, we always make sure we design an efficient and effective kitchen. We make sure that there’s plenty of storage space, that the kitchen is easy to use, that everything makes sense.” “When our clients refer someone to Cabinet Central, they know that they’re going to get the best possible design at the best possible price,” Tim says. “I think that’s a big part of why they choose us and why they keep choosing us.” THE CONSTRUCTION SOURCE CANADA