Midwest Group, Fastwalls, Done Group

Midwest picMidwest Group, Fastwalls and Done Group are leaders in the Canadian construction industry. 

The construction industry has been a staple of the Canadian landscape for several decades. Encouraging and enabling growth, construction is one of the major industries in Canada and employs more than 1.3 million people.  

Contributing to this growth, Alberta-based Midwest Group has risen through the ranks in its 30 years in business. From installing drywall to becoming a lead interior custom wall and ceiling specialist in the Calgary area, Midwest Group has been receiving accolades and completing memorable projects throughout its history. Midwest Group box

After starting Midwest Group, owner and founder Ron Barnes soon acknowledged the lack of efficiency of the construction industry, most notably the effects of weather on site production. Traditional building on site wasn’t feasible in the winter months, and productivity slowed due to weather disturbances.  

After thorough research, Barnes opened Fastwalls – a prefabricated wall-panel factory in Calgary. Working in prefabrication and learning industry best practices led Barnes down another path: modular construction. He founded another company, Done Group, to handle modular projects. From drywall to prefab and modules, Midwest, Fastwalls and Done Group are industry leaders in education and innovation in Canada and the United States. 

The Midwest Legacy

Calgary’s skyline has changed drastically over the past 50 years. From the oil and energy boom to the global recession, each building tells a story of economic prosperity, decline and recovery. As Midwest Group began quoting and being awarded projects, the small team of employees, led by Barnes, recognized that providing consistent service, quality and timeliness would allow them to stand out from competitors. They understood that the structure and finishing behind the paint and furniture was key to creating a positive office environment, which they defined as a workspace that was practical and pleasant for staff and made a positive impression to clients. Realizing imperfect construction could subconsciously create a negative opinion drove the mission of Midwest Group to provide perfection in their services, including steel stud layout, drywall finishes and drywall and acoustic ceilings.

From the onset of the company, upholding construction schedules has been an important piece of Midwest Group’s mission. “We recognize that schedule delays can result in hidden costs for a tenant, and our goal is to avoid that,” Team Leader Brent Logan says. “We do this by taking a proactive approach to schedules and push other trades to do the same."

Industry Expertise

Midwest Group’s commitment to excellence in each project has gained the confidence of general contractors, architects and interior designers. By working closely with each trade, Midwest Group is able to interpret and deliver the vision of designers and clients.

“When we were awarded Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre in Calgary, we were faced with a labor-intensive, intricate project,” Operations Manager Danny McMahon recalls. “The walls in the expansive atrium are compound radius. They encompass 6 floors and extend above the roof line, measuring over 100 feet tall.” Design was crucial, but so was structural integrity. The Midwest team brought together the experience of many of their key operations personnel to develop and execute an unconventional building method to achieve both factors successfully. Another notable undertaking of Midwest Group is the extensive food court ceiling located in Gulf Canada Square. The 3,400 square feet of Armstrong custom woodwork panels in the ceiling had to be independently suspended with precision. “Each of the 234 panels are custom sized with zero tolerance to create the desired design intent,” McMahon says.

Besides large-scale projects, Midwest Group has a rapid response team comprised of qualified tradespeople who specialize in commercial wall and ceiling repairs. Trained to work in occupied spaces, the team’s focus is to complete jobs as quickly as possible with little disturbance to business operations. Today, Midwest Group is still committed to their founding principles of quality, service and completion in any size of project. Recently, Midwest Group expanded into the Saskatchewan market and is actively working on the Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford development. “We’re excited to be serving the Saskatchewan community, and are looking forward to another 30 years of fulfilling our mission,” says Logan.

 

Midwest Fastwalls

Speed to Market

Any construction worker who has experienced an Albertan winter can likely relate to the frustration of temperatures in the negatives and costly schedule delays due to winter weather. The lack of construction efficiency is what drove Barnes to open a prefabrication shop in Calgary in 2010. Specializing in cold-formed steel wall systems, custom architectural details, and soffits and bulkheads, Fastwalls focuses on creating solutions on a building-by-building basis. Fastwalls box With three decades of experience in the construction industry, Barnes sought to beat the unpredictable winter season. “Having workers idle for two weeks while you wait for safe conditions so they can stick-frame the exterior of a building isn’t efficient,” Barnes says. “The sooner you can get that building open, the sooner the owner is going to get his ROI and the sooner the construction workers can move on to the next jobsite.”

Prefabrication of wall panels can eliminate the time spent on an actual construction site by 30 to 50 percent. The majority of the framing is completed in a factory, and then shipped to site where it is craned and clipped into place. Besides creating a safer work environment for workers, it gives the opportunity for more quality assurance checks throughout the process. “Before any panel leaves our factory doors, it is examined and compared to the panel ticket developed by our engineer of record,” says Fastwalls Factory Production Manager Simon Roy. “It gives us the opportunity to ensure each panel is structurally sound.”

Expanding Innovation

Fastwalls prefabricated systems are not a “one-size-fits-all” situation. Each project is reviewed carefully by a team of pre-construction professionals who determine the best system for the project. “We sit down together and determine the most efficient and cost-effective way to panelize a building,” Marketing Manager Karin Wall says. “It could be a load-bearing system, a by-pass system, or a combination of the two.” Fastwalls is not limited to pre-determined systems, and are known for their ability to take a client’s vision and manufacture it. “We’ve had innovators contact us with a proprietary idea, and we’ve been able to understand the intent and recreate it in the form of CFS panels,” says Wall, “We don’t believe in restricting innovation, rather, finding the solutions that will build the future of the industry.” 

Fastwalls operates in Canada and the United States, and has been included on notable projects including Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre in Calgary, Alta, Eben Ezer Lutheran Care Centre in Brush, Colo.; Holiday Inn Express Blue in Aurora, Colo.; and Grasslands Senior Living in Regina, Sask.

Midwest Done Group

Modular Space through Innovation

With over 30 years of experience, the Done Group team is well versed in the construction industry and process. After experiencing the snags and snares of traditional building techniques, Managing Director Ron Barnes sought solutions. When resolutions were elusive, he set forth to provide his own. With this, he dove headfirst into the prefabrication world. “Quality assurance and safety quickly became our first priority,” says Barnes. “Prefabricating in a factory setting enabled us to achieve these goals.” Done Group box Done Group has taken the strategic road less travelled since its inception. For many organizations, corporate strategy revolves around marketing, sales, and production. Done Group, however, has made research and development a primary focus. The natural curiosity and entrepreneurial spirit of the company’s leaders has directed them into contributing research and findings to modular construction’s evolutionary process in Canada and the United States.

The Done Experience

Historically, modular construction has been perceived as “boxy,” like shipping containers, with the inability to customize. While that technique is still being used, Done Group provides creative solutions to conventional building methods using only the best methods and products. Using cold-formed steel to create non-combustible single-floor designs is one of the many things that sets them apart from their competition. The Done Group team collaborates with industry leaders in several fields to provide the best products, services, and experience to everyone involved in a project. This is called the Hybrid Approach. From qualified engineers, prefabricated wall panels, and composite floor systems, the group is knowledgeable, eager and believes in the power of innovation. 

Redefining QSR Construction

Research and development has fueled many case studies since Done Group’s inception. The most recent is a comprehensive analysis of building modular for quick service restaurants (QSRs). A standard QSR model was analyzed and divided into conceptual modules. From this point, engineers determined a structurally sound method of building, transporting and installing the modules. Conventional procedures were studied to decipher how owner-operators could benefit from using the modular system. The benefits for modularizing QSRs means the factory production can begin well before the physical building site is ready. Once the site is ready, the modules can be shipped to site and installed quickly, ready for the finishing touches. By creating a consistent floorplan throughout each restaurant, an owner will require fewer construction managers. Since the design will stem from one factory, the conditions of the physical site will be the only inconsistent factor between locations.

Through a “one-source supplier,” brand owners can be assured that things like logo placement, paint colors and the overall atmosphere of their restaurants adhere to brand standards and minimize inconsistencies throughout locations.

Controlled manufacturing means each module undergoes quality checkpoints throughout production and before leaving the factory, from the structure to the interior finishing. Construction managers will not have to oversee the quality assurance of multiple contractors.

Modules that are constructed out of steel are non-combustible, reducing not only risk of fire during the construction phase, but also during long-term operations. Non-combustible buildings often offer insurance breaks and a safer work environment for employees compared to wood modular buildings.

Steel modules carry a longer life expectancy than those made of wood, as steel does not deteriorate, rot, burn and is more resistant to weather. If in the future there is a need to dismantle the QSR, the steel is entirely recyclable.

Should a need to renovate arise, each QSR can be renovated using the same construction method, or even through using prefabricated components to reduce disruption to business operations. Best of all, by choosing modularization owners can begin business operations 30-40 percent earlier than if the QSR was built using traditional methods. In addition to realizing the aforementioned benefits, Done Group researched, designed and implemented proprietary systems for the transportation and delivery of QSR modules. “We are powered by the mission to create something extraordinary,” says Riley Mahaffey, engineering consultant for Done Group. “We want to exceed the status quo.”

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