New Dawn Developments

Nestled in the heart of the East Kootenay Rockies, New Dawn Developments has built a reputation based on its principles of quality workmanship, customer service and value, President Chad Jensen says. His father, Rick Jensen, founded the Cranbrook, British Columbia-based company in 1978.

Rick Jensen served as mayor of Cranbrook from 1983 to 1990, while growing New Dawn into a successful land development and residential real estate enterprise. 

Today, the company consists of seven divisions: single-family residential, multifamily residential, estate homes, commercial, renovation, land development and project management. “Our quality level doesn’t change, no matter what the product is,” Chad Jensen says.

After the younger Jensen joined New Dawn in 1996, the company expanded into multifamily residential and recreational properties at the Kootenay area ski resorts.

“We are located in an area where there are three ski hills, a multitude of lakes and golf courses,” he describes. “It’s a tourism mecca with a lot of people buying second homes out here, so that’s been a big focus for us over the last 10 to 15 years.”

Adapting to the Market

Approximately two years ago, New Dawn and a group of investors purchased the ski hill, 50 percent of the golf course and all of the retail and food and beverage operations of Panorama Mountain Village in Panorama, British Columbia.

In late October, the company will complete a renovation of a hotel on the property, and it intends to build more single-family and multifamily homes as the market dictates.

New Dawn recently ventured into the modest-income or “attainable” housing market with the development of the 25-unit Fisher Peak Townhomes property in Cranbrook. As a registered builder with Built Green Canada for the past two years, New Dawn intends to make Fisher Peak Townhomes the first Platinum-certified Built Green Project in Cranbrook. “We’re currently putting the roof on the first building and moving into the sales program more aggressively,” Jensen says.

In a challenging economic climate, New Dawn has seen a major shift in the marketplace, he reports. Before the downturn, multifamily projects had constituted 90 percent of its business, but now that sector has dried up almost completely, leaving the company to pursue other interests. 

“There has been a substantial shift in our business model over the last two years because we used to be so heavily reliant on multifamily,” Jensen says. “The advantage of being a small company is being able to adapt to the market quickly. We’ve been challenged to reinvent ourselves and shift to where the market is, so we’re ramping up our commercial and renovation divisions.”

The company also has found ways to operate more efficiently by self-performing some of its work. This cuts down on construction costs and enables New Dawn to pass along some of these savings to it clientele, while assuring quality workmanship and schedule adherence. “We started doing our own framing and our own carpentry again,” Jensen notes. “Our staff stepped up and said, ‘Whatever it takes, we are going to get through it together.’”

Successful Delivery

In late 2010, New Dawn completed construction on the Kimberley Conference & Athletic Training Centre in Kimberley, British Columbia. Serving disabled athletes, the provincially- and federally-funded project is an innovative showcase for universal design, Jensen says.

“The entire building is accessible,” he describes. “The architect wanted to show able-bodied individuals what it’s like to have a disability, so you have to go up a 200-foot ramp to get from one floor to the other just to show what it is like for someone in a wheelchair to get around. It’s a very neat, very innovative project for this area and has been a flagship since it opened last November.”

The Kimberley Conference & Athletic Training Centre was a highly competitive public tender project, and New Dawn was pleased to be the company selected to manage the construction. “We spent as much time as possible with the client prior to construction to help them with their budget, do value-engineering – whatever it takes to be able to meet their budget,” Jensen says.

“We worked with the City of Kimberley and its consultant group for about six months trying to save money but not sacrifice the design or the end-product,” he continues. “We were able to save the client money to build the project, and we continued to save them money throughout construction. At the grand opening, they named the ballroom after our company as a way to say ‘thanks.’”

New Dawn worked closely with its suppliers and subcontractors to bring the project to a successful completion. “The vast majority of the trades were local,” Jensen notes. “When we finished the job, 93 percent of the construction costs were by local trades and suppliers. Some have worked with us for 15 to 20 years. We have good relationships with them; we prefer to approach a job as a team. By supporting the community we live in and work in, we are all able to grow together.”

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