Reaching new heights

Headquartered in Fredericksburg, Texas, with offices across Texas and projects across the country, Phoenix Construction is a full-service commercial construction, real-estate development and architectural design company

Kaleb Brewer founded Phoenix Construction in February 2012 in the oilfields of South Texas as a leap of faith, with only $10,000 and very little construction knowledge in his skill set. No surprise, the organization thrived early on as an Phoenix aindustry leader serving the industrial construction and real estate development needs of the Texas oil and gas industry. This expertise soon led to the company’s rapid growth and expansion into the commercial construction and development market. In 2017, Kent Johnson joined Phoenix Construction as COO to lead the company through its rapid expansion, and since that time, the company has built some of the most state-of-the-art facilities for several Fortune 500 companies across the nation.

Under the leadership of Brewer and Johnson, and their talented management team, Phoenix Construction has assembled a highly skilled line-up of commercial builders, brokers, agents, and architects. In fact, it is true to say that the team of people at Phoenix Construction is key to the company’s success – and Johnson agrees, describing them as its ‘biggest asset.’ “We truly believe that our team of industry professionals sets Phoenix Construction apart from the competition and has made us one of the top commercial construction and real estate development companies around. With every project, our team is committed to working together to ensure a smooth start and an impressive on-time and on-budget completion. They are a tight-knit team, dedicated to making the customer experience as remarkable as the products and services we deliver,” he said. “Each job is performed by committed experts, and our projects are competitively priced, with a quick schedule to completion.”

This people-centric methodology also extends to the customer – Phoenix Construction phrases it as keeping ‘the word Family at the center’ of who it is. This means that customer service is of utmost importance, and that the client’s vision for their project is shared by the Phoenix team, who work tirelessly to make customers’ dreams a reality. Brewer maintains, “our people not only build buildings, but they also help inspire, create, and deliver meaningful spaces within which people may accomplish their goals.”

Given the ‘family’ atmosphere and the dedication that the business has to its people, it is no surprise to learn that when Covid-19 struck, it was the staff that rallied around and kept the business’ momentum going. “As a company, the Phoenix Construction team has pulled together to endure those hardships,” agreed Johnson. “Every employee has made significant personal sacrifice to keep all that we value here at Phoenix Construction moving in the right direction during these unprecedented times.”

Of course, the pandemic has caused major modifications to construction practices across America, and Phoenix Construction has addressed these challenges along with the rest of the industry. One of Phoenix Construction’s major projects of 2020, the Urban Air Adventure Park in Hudson Oaks, Texas, which has been a long-time entertainment dream for families in the East Parker County community, is a prime example of the steps the business was required to take to maintain its operations on the jobsite during the pandemic.

Although construction progress was steady at Urban Air, it was not without setbacks and Phoenix Construction took every precaution to ensure the safety of the team, while building a quality facility, including social distancing, as well as use of hand sanitizing stations, gloves, and masks. Now, Urban Air, a 35,738 square-foot building that houses a new year-round indoor amusement adventure park, and features a diversified mix of attractions and merchandise, as well as food and beverages for family entertainment of all ages, is entertaining families from all over Parker County and beyond.

Large scale-projects such as Urban Air are familiar territory for Phoenix Construction. Over the past few years, it has also built new facilities for Cameron and XTREME (both Schlumberger companies), as well as projects for Nine Energy, Vulcan Materials, Altec Industries, and CBS Rentals.

However, industrial and commercial projects are not Phoenix Construction’s only focus. Phoenix recently broke ground on a new site for the Divine Mercy Lutheran Church, a project that will feature a 148-seat sanctuary with a stone and wood trimmed altar. The church will also have a center gathering room, kitchen, classrooms, and restrooms. The landscaped lot will consist of 47 paved parking spaces as well as space for a future maintenance building. Additional upcoming projects include Purvis Industries and Repeat Precision.Phoenix b

“We are a one stop shop providing quality service to our clients from concept to completion,” noted Brewer. “Our list of expertise includes construction, general contracting, development, architectural, equity management, property management and build-to-suit services for retail, office space, industrial, healthcare, multifamily and more.

“As we progress into 2021, our goal is to continually strive for excellence in all aspects of our business, as we grow our amazing team not only in numbers, but also in knowledge and skill,” Johnson allows. “We also intend to add new, more innovative technologies and processes along the way.”

While Phoenix Construction maintains a culture of excellence and continuous improvement across all its operations, as a Kingdom Business, the company is dedicated to advancing the agenda and values of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ in the world. This means the company has a level of distinction to always attain. By upholding its Core Values (based on the biblical Beatitudes) - ‘Remain Humble, Show Compassion, Believe in a Common Good, Invest in the Truth, Show Mercy, Be Genuine, Promote a Peaceful Environment, and do the next right thing even when it hurts’ - Phoenix Construction strives to live by a higher standard.

This culture of service is also reflected in its mission statement, where each word has been carefully selected to reflect the Phoenix Construction approach with its clients, as well as its strategic direction and goals. “We make every effort to expound upon the thought that success is not final and failure is not fatal - it is the courage to continue that counts. Phoenix Construction will strive for excellence in all aspects of business, in service to community, and in service to each other. Successes, failures, and courage will all be derived from one Divine Source that defines all three and guides them,” Brewer states.

Now standing in the early months of 2021, the future is looking bright for Phoenix Construction as Kaleb Brewer, along with Kent Johnson and the rest of the dedicated team, prepare to take the company to new heights. “As we look ahead, we see Phoenix Construction growing by leaps and bounds over the next several years,” exclaimed Brewer. “We are a very diversified, smooth-running, well-led team, and God willing, this Phoenix will continue to soar!”

Phoenix Construction
Services: Full Service Commercial Construction & Real Estate Development Company

Around the clock rentals

By offering reliable equipment from its diverse rental fleet at a competitive price, All Choice Rentals ensures that its customers stay on time and on budget

With a population of just over 7000 inhabitants, the rural town of Drayton Valley in central Alberta, Canada, sits between the North Saskatchewan River and the Pembina River, and is surrounded by Brazeau County, which is known for its vast oil fields. In Drayton Valley, oil and gas is the primary economic driver, while agriculture and forestry also play steady more important roles in the local economy. It is also here that, in 2009, All Choice Rental (ACR) began life as a small rental shop servicing the aforementioned industries.All Choice a

Move the clock forward to 2021, and ACR has grown to become an award-winning, full service equipment rental company, operating out of three locations in West Central Alberta – Drayton Valley, Hinton and Rocky Mountain House – and with a fleet of trucks that allows for the movement of equipment around the region. “We are very much a one-stop rental shop, serving customers with virtually all of the equipment they need,” explains ACR President, Michael Doerksen.

Among the extensive list of items that the company provides, one will find aerial equipment, compaction equipment, concrete and masonry tools, excavators, fences, heaters and fans, lighting equipment, power generation, portable toilets and wash cars, skid steers, trailers, and scaffolding and ladders. “What our customers have come to recognize is that they have the peace of mind of knowing that, when they are on a project, they can call ACR at any time, and that we will be here to do the necessary legwork for them to secure the right equipment, tools or solutions that they need to get the job done,” Michael continues. “We have built up a number of industry partnerships and established a strong network of contacts which has helped us to understand exactly what equipment is out there in the market, and how this will be of benefit to end users. For our customers, they know that this means they don’t have to spend hours calling around to source a particular item or solution, instead they can just call ACR and we mwill do the rest!”

It is this level of dedicated customer service that really differentiates the company. “Our phones are literally switched on 24/7, meaning we can service our customers around the clock,” Michael states. “Working in rural Alberta, things are heavily influenced by the oil and gas industry, which itself operates 24/7, which is why we too are committed to being there for our customers day and night. This allows us to deliver the equipment they need, when they need it most.”

As recently as five years ago, some 80 per cent of ACR’s work came from customers operating in the oil and gas industry. This corresponded to the high oil prices of the time. When prices subsequently fell, the company knew that it needed to diversify its portfolio in order to draw in business from other sectors. “At the time, we specialized a lot more in power generation, which we serviced through a large fleet of generators that went out regularly to drilling rigs, well sites and so forth,” Michael details. “With the collapse in energy prices, we quickly realized that we needed to diversify the business, so we set about selling off around 90 per cent of our power generation assets. We then invested in specialty equipment like aerial solutions, boom lifts, compaction skips and excavators, which we saw as being in particular demand amongst farmers, ranchers and contractors in the area. It also meant that in a growing municipality where schools and hospitals are being built, and general housing infrastructure work continues at pace, we had a much stronger rental fleet to serve those markets. At the same time, we also doubled down on things like portable toilets and waste management solutions, which helped to create that one-stop rental shop we speak of today.”

In the last several years, ACR has been steadily growing as an organization. Back in 2019, it moved into its Hinton site, and has designs on further expansion in the months ahead. It has also continued to diversify its offering, this time All Choice bthrough the purchasing of a 50 per cent share in the company Independent Energy Solutions (IES). “A stand-alone business that is also based out of Rocky Mountain House, IES specializes in the manufacture of electric light and solar light towers,” Michael adds. “Our decision to buy into the business comes as a result of looking at where the future is headed in terms of solar electric power, and the projected increase in demand for cleaner ways of producing light on work sites going forward. IES is a highly innovative company, doing things with clean power than no one else is right now, which makes it a very exciting proposition for ACR.”

Considering the challenging year for everyone that was 2020, Michael is pleased to note that in the circumstances ACR considers it to have been a successful time for the business. While active projects may have slowed down for a period of time, this gave it the chance to look inwards at how it operates itself, identify efficiencies and drive improvements in the way it serves its customers. This has put ACR is good stead for 2021, which Michael sees as being the year that the company begins expanding its footprint once more.

“We are lined up to have a very successful 2021,” he declares. “We see opportunities and projects out there in the market that could ultimately see ACR double in size, which makes this year one of the most exciting that I can recall in the last decade. Collectively, all of us at ACR have big dreams for the business, and we feel that the sky really is the limit for us. There is a lot of work still to be done, we know, but we definitely have the ambition and drive to turn this business into one that is a real player in the rental industry, not just in Alberta, but throughout Canada.”

All Choice Rentals
Services: Equipment rentals

Going up

A full-service elevator company, Quality Allied Elevator serves the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) – the most populous metropolitan area in Canada

Maintaining approximately 2,500 elevators while providing 160 modernizations annually, Quality Allied Elevator is the GTA’s largest independent elevator service expert, and also one of the largest independent elevator service companies in Canada.

The foundations of what would evolve into the company we see today were set in the 1940s as an elevator motor repair facility. Thanks to a variety of strategic acquisitions and alliances, the business has expanded in scope and size - Phil Staite, Senior Vice President at the firm, gave some insights into its origins. “Rick Sokoloff started a company called Quality Elevator in 1991,” he began. “Rick built up the maintenance base of the company through a lot of hard work, one elevator at a time, while personally repairing and maintaining the elevators.

“Quality Elevator then partnered with Allied Elevator Group in 2000, forming Quality Allied Elevator, and the company continued to prosper and grow. Quality Allied Elevator added new construction and elevator modernizations to its portfolio. Quality Allied Elevator became a leader in elevator modernizations, as this market continued to grow, it did less new construction.”

Having referred to the modernization side of the business, there are some interesting statistics that really highlight the everyday wear and tear that an elevator can experience. So, for example, a residential elevator can make more than QAE a700 starts in one day, while a commercial or institutional elevator can make more than 1,000 starts per day. That’s more than 250,000 starts each and every year! Furthermore, even after years of reliable service elevators may still need to be upgraded – whether that is to meet the changing needs of a building, meet code requirements, compete with more modern buildings, or increase safety and reliability.

With this many journeys, it is clear that elevator owners won’t want their equipment out of service for long and this is one of the strengths of Quality Allied Elevator – thanks to its years of experience in modernizing all brands of elevators, it is able to complete work quickly and efficiently to minimize down time and disruption.

Regularly maintaining elevators to ensure that they are running smoothly is also one of the mainstays of Quality Allied Elevator’s offering, with the driving forces behind this being safety, reliability and service. It has developed comprehensive, preventative maintenance programs that result in elevators performing at the highest level possible. This approach again reduces unnecessary downtime while maximizing equipment’s life cycle.

Finally, along with modernizing and maintaining comes major repairs - Quality Allied Elevator can undertake all types of major repairs, quickly and efficiently, to ensure that the equipment is back up and running as soon as possible.

Thanks to its years in the industry, Quality Allied Elevator is also not phased when faced with obsolete parts. With many elevators being well over 25 years old, many components cannot even be purchased anymore. Quality Allied Elevator harvests many obsolete parts when modernizing elevators, to try to keep the old elevators operating until a modernization can be planned.

Phil agreed that technology is continually changing in the elevator industry, and it is something that Quality Allied Elevator frequently has to address. He gave some examples. “During Covid-19 we have air purifiers for elevator interiors, as well as push buttons that are touchless. The dispatching of elevators is continually improving, and elevators are getting smarter, resulting in less wait times for the riding public. For high rise elevators, there is regeneration of power that can go back into the system of building resulting in a power saving,” he said.

All of the above services provided by Quality Allied Elevator are delivered by very skilled crews. These teams of highly trained technicians drive fully stocked vehicles and are in constant communication with the Dispatch Centre. The technicians service fewer elevators per route to provide each customer with superior service. As a business that relies on these very skilled employees, Phil shed some light on how Quality Allied Elevator trains and develops its staff. “We have our own training facility called the Elevating Devices Training Academy,” he explained. “This is a separate facility for regularly scheduled training and education. At the Elevating Devices Training Academy, we have a classroom and elevator equipment for ongoing training of our elevator mechanics and continuing education.

“We also have a Director of Field Training, who trains apprentices and licensed technicians on site. He trains our technicians on the newer equipment coming out and also shows the younger technicians and apprentices how to maintain and troubleshoot the old equipment.

“We also set up education for our client base to help educate them on the operation of an elevator. We also teach them what Quality Allied Elevator is responsible for in a contract, what they should check before making a service call and what the owner is responsible for. We find that we all work much better together when our clients have a better understanding of the elevators in their building.”

The approach detailed by Phil also illustrates Quality Allied Elevator’s ‘customer first’ attitude – the business strongly believes in customer communication and that its dedication to this area is what sets it apart from the competition. “Our phones are answered by our receptionist and people do not go into voice mail. Our entire infrastructure is set up to keep our customers informed about their elevators,” asserted Phil. “We have dedicated Modernization Project Managers who work directly with our clients during the entire process, as well as dedicated Service Managers that work with their maintenance customers to schedule service work and who the Property Managers keep updated on the operation of their elevators. All customers also have a Customer Service Representative to help them with their portfolio. They get to know their representative and can contact them at any time.”

All of the employees at Quality Allied Elevator are committed to responding to clients’ questions and supporting them by ensuring that they speak with the correct person based on their inquiry. As Phil mentioned, when called during regular business hours, clients will always be speaking with a live person on the other end of the line, and its after-hours service is also a live service and has access to both on-call technicians and an on-call supervisor. “Communication is an integral part of our business,” agreed Phil.

This philosophy requires the staff at Quality Allied Elevator to uphold the highest standards and Phil acknowledges that the company’s team and their willingness to do the right thing – not necessarily the easiest thing – is a real differentiator for the business.

He went on to give an example of a recent interesting project that demonstrated how technologically challenging the developments Quality Allied Elevator undertakes can be, and showed the range of skills and equipment that is needed on a complicated scheme. “We recently completed 700 Bay Street, Toronto, with the contractor PCL Construction and the owner Kingsett Capital. The existing building was 25 floors and they were adding five floors to it. This was being done while the building, which was mixed use, business and residential, was fully populated.QAE b

“There were seven elevators using the same machine room consisting of a five plex and duplex. The hoistway for the duplex was extended through the existing machine room while always keeping the five plex and one elevator out of the duplex operational.

“The existing machine and controller were lifted up the through the building and placed in the new machine room, while keeping the other elevator in the group operational. At the same time, it continued to service 25 floors of residential patrons during the construction of the building!”

Quality Allied Elevator is awarded complex builds such as this thanks to its proven track record and its demonstrable ability to protect clients’ capital investment and enhance their buildings’ operation and image. Many customers have celebrated decades’ long associations with the company and its principals, and thanks to its size, it is large enough cope with the more technically challenging contracts, at the same time as being small enough to have the flexibility required to meet the needs of clients in a constantly changing market.

Looking ahead, Phil believes that the future looks bright for Quality Allied Elevator – but like all businesses he can hardly wait to see Covid-19 in his rear-view mirror! The company has weathered the storm thanks to its separate operating areas. “We are fortunate that we have a large service business,” he said. “We find that our modernization business has really slowed down. We are keeping our modernization infrastructure in place so that we will be able to service our clients once we return back to normal. With the great people we have working here, providing continued great service, then we will have continued growth.”

The company will also continue with its admirable charity work. “Unfortunately, we have lost employees to cancer, heart problems and strokes,” said Phil. “We have done major fund raisers for these charities and we have also raised money though golf tournaments for mental health. We are appreciative how the industry always supports these events.”

Quality Allied Elevator is one company that has managed to assemble all the components for success under one roof. Thanks to its company culture and continuous dedication to excellent customer service, it looks set to continue to keep elevator passengers traveling effortlessly for many years to come.

Quality Allied Elevator
Services: Elevator contractor

The golden touch

Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2021, Midas Hospitality is a leading hotel development, management, construction and investment firm that puts people first

Consistently named among St Louis’ fastest growing companies, Midas Hospitality has been exceeding the expectations of its clients, lenders, investors and associates since 2006. Back then, the company’s Co-Founders, David Robert and JT Norville, split their time between long hours on the road and working from home, but it wasn’t long before the pair’s commitment to their new business paid off.

Soon after the company launched, Midas purchased its first hotel in Omaha, NE. David and JT improved the hotel with investment, as well as an overhaul in service and culture. After increasing the Omaha hotel’s value and selling the property, Midas took the proceeds and invested it into three more hotels, triggering a growth trajectory that has continued into the present.

Today, Midas develops, renovates, builds, manages and invests in hotels across the United States, with the help of in-house divisions Midas Construction, Midas Development and Midas Capital. A specialist in select-service and extended-stay Midas aproperties, the company has operated award-winning hotels for leading brands such as Marriott, Hilton and IHG since 2006.

“We’re a people-first, purpose-driven company with a set of values that guides us towards our vision. The vertical integration of our investment, development, construction and management services is also a vital mpart of what we do,” explains JT Norville.

“The combination of that vertical stack and our purpose-driven, people-first approach is really what sets us apart from our competitors.”

As a member of the hospitality sector, Midas has felt the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic over the last 12 months, though the company’s focus on select-service and extended-stay hotels meant that it fared better than the industry as a whole. Alongside the obvious challenges and difficulties felt by all businesses in the sector, the pandemic also presented Midas with opportunities.

“Even in the darkest times, there is always a silver lining,” JT says. “During the pandemic, we built a distressed hotel fund called the Midas Hotel Fund, which we’ll be using to acquire properties. We think there’s a great buying opportunity in the industry right now and with our vertical integration, we’re nimble enough and efficient enough to take advantage of that.”
As JT suggests, 2020 remained a growth year for Midas in spite of the circumstances. The company opened five new hotels during the pandemic, including an Aloft property in the Cortex Innovation District of St Louis and an Element by Westin site in Prospect Yards, St Louis. Janessa Corpuz, formerly GM for Midas’ Courtyard by Marriott in St Peters, was named the Element hotel’s General Manager in September. She was recently joined by Director of Food and Beverage James Metcalf, who will manage UPBAR, a new rooftop cocktail experience atop the hotel. Midas’ first ever company owned and operated bar, UPBAR offers guests the opportunity to relax in an upscale lounge-like atmosphere with scenic views, a large patio, a 30-foot bar and a thoughtfully crafted cocktail menu.

With UPBAR open and ready for business, David Robert reveals that Midas has already begun work on its latest development. “In late January 2021, we broke ground on a 170-room Residence Inn in Clayton, Missouri, which is the business and government center of St Louis,” David reports. “Our construction company will be building it, we’ll be developing it and our investment company is raising the capital to get it done. It’s a two-year project and the positive thing about that is all forecasts suggest the hospitality industry will be back and very healthy by 2023.”

The Clayton, Missouri project is a promising start to 2021 for Midas as the company prepares to celebrate its 15th anniversary in March. Although there are myriad factors behind the company’s longevity and success, David and JT believe that a lot of weight can be placed upon the enduring strength of Midas’ family-oriented culture, and the efforts of its team who is eager to serve.

“Looking back at when we started, I don’t think either JT or I imagined the business would evolve the way it did, so 15 years is a big milestone for us,” David declares. “We’ve got good people, we’ve tried to make good decisions and we put our values into practice every day. Still, we’re only as good as the people representing us – our associates. They’re the ones working with the public, upholding our values and making things happen.”

“We have 900 associates spread across 45 hotels and every one of those people and their actions is a part of our culture,” JT adds. “Our vision was, and always has been, to become a hospitality-driven company where people love to work, customers love the experience, and investors love the results. We bring in people to Midas that are smarter than us and continue leading with our values and have fun while we’re doing it. I think those things are vital for a team and a company to be successful for 15 years.”

Hoping that the next 15 years will be as successful as the previous 15, Midas is already turning its attentions to the future, and the growth opportunities it is likely to present. To prepare for the years ahead, the company has grown the investment team over recent months to source, underwrite and capitalize on opportunities.

“We realized during the pandemic that we needed to find ways to better communicate with our associates, with our guests, and with our partners, so our improved online presence has allowed us to do that,” David states. “Our hotel strategy includes frequent online social messaging and that is the same strategy we use at our central office to stimulate job growth and report on new developments. We are proud of what we do, where we’ve come from, and what we’ve accomplished, so we feel as though it’s important to keep people informed.”

Following an announcement at the end of 2020, Midas is set to team up with 3D Development in the coming months to begin work on its second Element by Westin hotel. Based in Richardson, Texas, the $22 million property will feature 123 suites and is scheduled to open in 2021.Midas b

“During the past year, we have worked side by side on this project with 3D Development,” JT remarks. “It is exciting that our plans are now becoming a reality, and we look forward to introducing the innovative Element concept to the area.”

For the longer-term, Midas is currently working on a strategic plan that will allow the firm to build on its strengths, evolving above and beyond the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic. “I think we’re going to continue to grow the hospitality division through acquisitions,” David notes. “There will certainly be some buying opportunities over the next two myears as, unfortunately, some hotel owners don’t make it, but thanks to the fund we have set up, we’ll be able to move quickly on that. We hope to get some more new developments on the go, despite the lending challenges of the pandemic, and we’ll probably be expanding into similar business models – we’re looking at apartments right now, but there are plenty of potential options in that area.”

Midas Hospitality
Services: Hotel development, management and investment

Timber that inspires

For more than eight decades, Kalesnikoff Lumber Co. has practised sustainable forest management, while supplying its customers with premium quality timber products

As the old saying goes, ‘take care of the land, and the land will take care of you’, and the land upon which Kalesnikoff Lumber Co. (Kalesnikoff) operates just happens to produce some of the highest quality fine-grained fibre in the world. That is because the land which this fourth generation, family-owned and operated timber business calls home is the forests of Canada’s West Kootenay mountains, in southeast British Columbia.

Founded in 1939, Kalesnikoff is today North America’s most advanced, vertically integrated, multi-species mass timber manufacturer. “The core of our business has always been forestry,” explains the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Kalesnikoff aChris Kalesnikoff. “Initially, we began life harvesting timber, before evolving into a fully-fledged sawmill operation and later adding our own mass timber plant. We are proud to say we are now fully integrated, from seedings to solutions. Throughout this journey, Kalesnikoff has remained a value driven company, and one that is focused on utilizing our timber in the best possible manner so as to service our global markets.”

Kalesnikoff’s reputation has been built on precision and quality, and coming from a strong entrepreneurial family, Chris is all too aware of the characteristics that have allowed the business to grow for more than eight decades. “Day in and day out, we are always looking at ways to maximize the value of our timber,” he says. “We focus on speciality, high-quality products, such as cross laminated timber (CLT), Glulam beams, glue-laminated timber panels (GLT), Japanese grade lumber, and tongue and groove panelling. In doing so, we have established ourselves as a true multi-national business serving not only the North American market, but also customers in Japan – which has been one of our biggest markets for the last 20-plus years – as well as customers in Europe and Australia.”

The company’s resources and infrastructure today covers an area of land measuring approximately 40 acres. “For us – as you can probably imagine – it all starts with the forest itself, and we manage our own timber licence, harvest our own timber, and manage the land base through the re-planting of trees,” Chris details. In 2019 alone, the company planted some 795,910 seedlings, equating to 657.5 hectares of forest.

“Next, we have our sawmill, which is one of the cleanest, well-run speciality mills in British Columbia,” Chris continues. “It is here, within this modern, multi-species, 75 million FBM capacity facility, that we break the log down to create our initial lumber products. We then use our five premium steam injection dry kilns to dry all of our products to the tightest of specifications, before surfacing and planning them to create proprietary grades of wood.

“Finally, we have our 110,000-square foot mass timber facility, which opened its doors in late 2019. This is what we like to think of as our value-added site, and is where we work on our high quality, specialized, engineered wood products, such as CLT, GLT panels, and Glulam beams, and it represents a substantial investment in the long-term growth of the business.”

Across both of its facilities, the company has also demonstrated its commitment to investing in state-of-the-art processing equipment, technology and other resources, again as part of its mission to maximize the value of the tree/wood itself. For example, it possesses one of three existing CLT presses in the world, which has been honed for the mass timber market, and allows the company to cure four meters in six minutes, with radio frequency and gluing techniques that let it cut, cure and process with extraordinary precision.

The first year of operation for the company’s mass timber facility would, as fate had it, end up being the same year that the world faced the immense challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic. This, naturally, presented Kalesnikoff with a number of unforeseen hurdles to navigate. “What we found to our benefit,” Chris reveals, “was that the companies that we partnered with in this investment and our customers very much understood our goals, believed in this new venture, and wanted to align themselves with it and with us. As a result, we secured numerous exciting contracts for 2020 and 2021, including an elementary school and a university residence. So, looking back now on 2020, we are incredibly proud of how our teams handled the difficulties faced, and are grateful to them, our customers and our partners for how the year ultimately turned out.”

Looking ahead, the company is predicting a strong 12 months in 2021, both when it comes to its lumber activities and its end products lines. “We see strong levels of demand out there for sawed lumber and mass timber within our existing markets, and going forward I think there will be even more opportunities for us to grow and evolve as a business as further downstream channels open up to us,” Chris declares. “Personally, I am excited to see how we will continue to serve the construction industry over the coming years. From starting life as a forestry company, Kalesnikoff has evolved into something that is far more than just a manufacturer of timber and lumber, and this pattern of growth will only gain momentum as we further refine our own expertise. This will allow us to serve our customers better-still as we help them to bring their projects out of the ground.”

Kalesnikoff Lumber Co.
Products: Mass timber products and lumber company

Bayond net Zero

For Howland Green Homes, its mission is simple, yet revolutionary, and that is to create buildings that produce more energy than they require

At Howland Green Homes (Howland Green), the aim of the business is not just to build homes, but positive energy developments. By this it means, creating homes, buildings and communities that are so efficient that they produce more energy than they consume. This marks the business out as representing the next step towards greater sustainability, as it looks to build beyond the ‘Net Zero’ standard and into ‘Net Positive’ territory.

Leading this push is one Dave de Sylva, President of Howland Green. “I have been in the business of building and development for 49 years now, previously operating a company called Del Ridge Homes Inc. (“Del Ridge”), which is known for Howland Green aits popular GreenLife brand (“GreenLife”),” he details. “Whereas this company operated with a goal of creating Net Zero buildings, Howland Green is all about being ‘Beyond Net Zero’.”

For Howland Green, this means utilizing even more insulation, applying greater technology in conservation, sharing advanced energy practices that result in even lower operating energies, and achieving lower operating costs. “We build commercial office buildings and residential condominium buildings, and with both we have a unique building system that we try to make improvements to with each new project,” Dave explains. “All aspects of the system are geared towards energy conservation. Whether that means building the box out properly, or heating and cooling it effectively, it is about reducing the amount of operational energy required so that your bottom line comes out an awful lot lower than the average building.”

In a further positive move, Howland Green then looks to satisfy those lower energy needs with renewable energy. It generates off site solar on nearly every building which, when combined with the on-site photo voltaic system that it has become adept at utilizing, exceeds all demands generated by the building, allowing the company to give back its excess, clean, pollution-free energy to the local community.

The success of Howland Green – and GreenLife before it – can in part be credited to Dave’s love of science and passion for problem solving. “I am one of those individuals who never stops thinking and looking at different ways of doing things,” Dave continues. “Science is so interesting because it talks to you, it responds to what you do with it, and rather than sit back on things that have already been done before, I enjoy experimenting and I don’t think that is something that should be feared.

“As builders and developers, we take a piece of land and what we put there evolves over time, but more often than not our industry doesn’t really want to study how that land or construction behaves. A key part of science is data collection, and having the ability to collect data from that development, analyze it and manipulate it is so important as it allows us to learn from what we have done in the past to create a better future. I think that thought process is missing all too often with people more fixated on past accomplishments.”

Howland Green’s own experiments with data, technology and various construction processes have led to it adopting a number of specialist techniques that it has incorporated into its Building Envelop, which make its projects so sustainable. This includes the use of upgraded insulated concrete forms (ICF). The company has invested in custom made ICF, which increases the walls from 2-to-5/8’’ of expanded polystyrene insulation (EPS) on each side, to over 4’’. “A major benefit of having an enhanced ICF system is that your demand for space conditioning – heating and cooling – is so much smaller, often almost ten per cent of the norm,” Dave enthuses.

Other facets of the company’s Building Envelop include, high quality triple glazed fiberglass windows, entirely enclosed garages – which eliminate at least 80,000-to-100,000 KWHs of energy for ice/snow melt, the most up-to-date LED lighting options available on the market, hot water storage, decant recapture, geothermal heating and air conditioning, clean and grey water harvesting, and post waste recycling.

Arguably the company’s flagship development today is its Howland Green Business Centre, one of the first and only net positive energy office building in Canada. Standing three storys tall, offering over 59,000-square feet of office space, and powered by solar and geothermal energy, it is a true revolutionary landmark achievement. In addition to producing more clean energy than it uses each year, the building has been constructed to include individual geothermal heating and cooling controls, it harnesses all rainwater and recycles it on site, possesses 360,000 watts of photovoltaic panels, and stores energy for later usage using high-tech battery and pneumatic systems.

“The Howland Green Business Centre is a terrific example of our pioneering work, that people are amazed by every time they hear about it or visit,” Dave proudly states. “Just to give you an example of its environmental credentials, it is February as I speak, and the furnace here has yet to come on once this year! Thanks to features like our enhanced ICF, pre-cast floors and terrific triple glazed windows, heat doesn’t escape and the building’s temperature stays constant virtually all-year round. There is so much stuff also that you cannot see, little elements and features throughout the building, so we are looking forward to collecting all of the data for a full-year’s operation later in 2021, so as to really highlight the benefits that the center has – and can – deliver.”Howland Green b

On the residential side of the business, Howland Green’s major undertaking at present is its work on Milton’s Bront West, a new condominium development spanning some 190,000-square feet in Milton, Ontario, Canada. Here, more than 16 different energy features combine to create a fully sustainable, eco-friendly, waste conscious condo experience. Ranging from 1078-square feet to 1607-square feet, these two and three bedroom suites feature open concept living, with luxury finishes throughout. “Milton’s Bront West utilizes much – if not all – of the same technological features that have gone into create the Howland Green Business Centre, albeit over a larger, more spread out space,” Dave adds. “I have taken the experience that I had in successfully delivering condominiums under the GreenLife banner for Del Ridge, and combined it with technology such as our enhanced ICF that is being used in such applications for the first time ever, and the results so far have been excellent.”

Looking back on the success of the business over the past 12 months – and indeed beyond that – Dave pinpoints its ability to adapt to the world around it, as well as the efforts of its people, as being fundamental. “One thing that sets us humans apart from the animal kingdom is our ability to adapt, and we as an organization are constantly evolving, because we know that standing still is simply not the answer,” he professes. “As far as our people are concerned, we are not a huge company in terms of numbers, but some of those working alongside me have done so for 20, 25, even 35 years now. The reason why is because they – like their colleagues – believe in what we are, and are thrilled to be a part of what we are achieving here at Howland Green.”

For 2021, the focus of the company is initially to complete its work on Milton Bront West. In the meantime, it is currently at the drafting board stage of a new office building project, and has its sights set on a follow-up residential build. Needless to say, then, that Dave and his team have no intentions of slowing down for the foreseeable future.

Longer term, Dave’s attention is also fixed on identifying other firsts that the company can achieve. “As far as our mission or goals for the future are concerned, it goes back to that thought process of leaving no stone unturned when we set out to accomplish something,” he declares, before revealing one of the ambitions he would like to achieve. “One of the biggest things I would like to see us do is come up with an in-built system for the storage of a percentage of the energy that falls onto our planet each day. I know that there are a number of techniques being explored today to try and make such a solution possible, and while I don’t know if one of these will show it can be done within a building itself, my instinct tells me that there has to be a way, and I am more than happy to explore such a theory to see if it can become a reality.”

In fairness, given the track record that Dave has had delivering industry firsts while operating Del Ridge and now Howland Green, you would perhaps be unwise to bet against the above coming to life sooner than later.

Howland Green Homes Ltd.
Services: Building positive energy developments

Window maestros

Founded in Fort Scott, Kansas in 1952, Peerless Architectural Windows and Doors prides itself on creating bold designs that are manufactured to the highest quality standards

As it approaches its seventieth year in business in 2022, Peerless Architectural Windows and Doors (Peerless) today stands as an award-winning aluminum window, door, and wall solution provider based in the Mid-West of the USA. Proud to manufacture windows from the heartland of America, Peerless’ success is based on an extremely high level of engineering, as well as a pioneering approach to new technologies that drive bold advances in window designs.

“We started off manufacturing many different products, some being storm doors and garage doors,” began Sarah Lero, the Marketing Manager at Peerless, as she explained how the company evolved to its respected position today. “Throughout the years, we transitioned over into the architectural industry, providing innovative windows and doors nation-wide and now we are industry leaders, offering unrivaled products, and capabilities.”

The early months of 2021 are the perfect time to report on Peerless’ activities, as the company has recently expanded its capabilities into three locations. Sarah gave more details: “The expansions were undertaken at our Innovative Solutions Group (ISG) in Nevada, MO, and our Commercial Applications Group (CAG) in Iola, KS, and the corporate office and plant in Fort Scott, KS. We are now manufacturing a comprehensive range of windows, doors, and pre-assembled Peerless aunits for new construction, replacement, historical, and modular construction.

“Furthermore, in the last year, we added the ability to ship windows differently from anyone else in the industry, aiding in loading and unloading time on busy jobsites and reducing shipping damage.”

Clearly already a highly-sophisticated operation, Peerless nevertheless makes sure that its production facilities and processes are constantly upgraded, to ensure that they are working at optimal efficiency. This is achieved through its own in-house Continuous Improvement department. Sarah gave some examples of some of the solutions that Peerless has implemented: “We make many oversized units that two people cannot easily lift, so in several of our facilities, we use overhead lifts to increase efficiency and keep our workers safe,” she said.

“Technology is essential to us. Additionally, the Peerless development team has built the Peerless Xpeerience App, so our customers can track their projects from the aluminum press through delivery.”

No strangers to thinking out of the box, and unafraid to embrace innovation, Sarah highlights some further aspects of Peerless’ operation that sets it apart from its competition. “I believe our ability to think about our impact on every party involved with our window during design makes us stand out. For the building owner, we make sure to provide a product every person could easily operate and provide maximum fresh air with fall protection and egress capabilities.

“For architects, we regularly exceed project performance values required on projects. We co-extrude our accessories and unitize many windows in one master frame for glaziers to make installation efficient and straightforward without going over budget. Providing a world-class product is different than providing a product that is easy for us to manufacture; our research and development (R&D) team takes the time to design our products that will work in many situations.”

The R&D team Sarah referred to is a hugely essential contributor to the success of the business and she gave an example of new product innovation that the team has released. “Peerless has a full R&D team that develops our products through a five gates system,” she began. “Throughout the years, we have never provided storefront windows, mainly due to the low industry cost, and we sell fully glazed products instead of a stick system. With the addition of our ISG facility and an oversized testing wall, we can now build larger products. Larger products meant we could create a

Pre-Assembled Storefront system with co-extruded accessories for easy installation. Peerless Pre-Assembled Storefront is equipped with thicker mullions to hide any interior walls, so the whole system acts more like a wall than a typical window. Providing a system like this gives our customers the ability to bid on storefront, punched openings, and window wall within the same project. Peerless windows achieve some of the lowest u-values within the building product industry, so we like to think of Peerless as pioneers who drive bold advances in product designs.”

The u-value referred to by Sarah is an important consideration for almost anyone involved in construction. U-value is the window’s overall ability to resist heat flow, and the better insulated a structure is, the lower the u-value will be. Peerless can achieve as low as .15, and additionally, it’s SHGC score can be as low as .24 – SHGC measures how much heat is transmitted through a window. By providing windows with the best overall design, frame, glass package, and spacer systems available, Peerless is contributing to the net-zero energy goal in buildings.

Peerless further reassures its customers that the products they are purchasing are of the highest quality, thanks to its membership of the American Architectural Manufacturer’s Association (AAMA). It tests all of its products to meet the most stringent quality standards set by AAMA, and it is thanks to a combination of all the benefits described above that some of the most significant and interesting schemes across America feature Peerless products.

A look at its website ( will illustrate the range and scale of these astonishing construction projects, but there is one particular contract that really stood out for Sarah, when asked to highlight an instance of Peerless’ approach. “While we do focus on many new construction projects, Peerless has provided windows for some key replacement projects over the years,” she said. “One recent notable project was Emerson Little Building in Boston, MA. Emerson Little Building is a 12-story structure that was initially completed in 1917 and housed many businesses, and now it is owned by Emerson College as a residence hall. A considerable feature we could provide was windows that replicated the old windows’ look while bringing in today’s technology, including energy efficiency.

“It was also important that we gave the college windows that anyone could operate, meeting the 5lb handle operating force enforced by The Americans with Disabilities Act. Peerless G261 Casement Inswings could meet ADA with an impressive 0.32 u-value and 15 lb water performance. Seeing the slowdown in new construction has also led us to ensure we have window systems that work for replacement work and products that will be as easy as possible for our customers to install.”Peerless b

The consideration that Peerless puts into the projects it is part of, for both its customers and the end-users of its products is clear, and this culture of responsibility extends throughout the business, especially towards its staff. “People are huge for Peerless, and we know that we are only as good as the people who are building our windows,” agreed Sarah.

“We have many different health and wellbeing programs that focus on our people including the Peerless Wellness Program that pays for a portion of gym memberships, reimbursements for safety shoes, free hi-vis vests and shirts and fresh fruit passed out daily. This year we took the week between Christmas and New Years’ off as a company with time paid for if you have been with the company for five years, and part of the time paid for employees with the company between two to five years.

“We also have annual meat give-away!” she added. “We go to surrounding county fairs and buy animals from the kids to butcher and pass out 20 lb. portions to our employees. We are also continuously working to improve our employees’ benefits because we understand that there needs to be a work/life balance to get the best out of everyone.”

It is not surprising then to learn that when the coronavirus pandemic hit, the Peerless management team went above and beyond to protect not just their own staff, but also others in the community. “At the beginning of the pandemic, our President went out and bought six sewing machines to put together a task force to sew masks for our 400+ employees. After our employees had masks, we started donating to other small businesses struggling to get them,” Sarah revealed. “Going through this pandemic has been challenging as a company, and we have had to pivot our sales and marketing techniques to keep projects coming in, and now I think our team is more versatile than we have ever been.

“We did see a slight slowdown early 2020 because jobsites were just not open, but things have started to pick back up. We work with some excellent partners who let us build their projects early to keep our production running efficiently and lead times short.”

As we go forward into 2021, the team at Peerless is ready to face the challenges that may arise and has ambitious strategies that it firmly intends to pursue. “We have many goals and plans for 2021, and we want to continue to grow our new ISG and CAG business while keeping our Peerless architectural window to the same high-quality standard,” Sarah confirmed. “We are currently improving our customer visit area, so we can host clients in a comfortable space when travel does start. As mentioned above, we are also improving our testing capabilities so that customers can do full-scale mock-ups while visiting us. We also have some new products that we hope to bring to market later this year.”

She concluded with a longer-term vision for this ambitious and flexible business. “In three to five years, we hope to produce our products more efficiently than anyone is currently capable of in the window industry. This could look like automation, new Peerless patented equipment, or even new technology. We are at a pivotal time where the next big idea could change the whole window industry, and we want it to be something that comes from Peerless.”

Peerless Architectural Windows and Doors
Products: Innovative window and door manufacturer

Building for the future

A highly respected general contractor, Pro-Can Construction Group specializes in sustainable construction practices, institutional construction and renovation, and the development of mixed use commercial buildings

Having evolved from its roots as a residential renovation company, Pro-Can Construction Group Corp (Pro-Can) stands today as a knowledgeable and experienced firm, that works tirelessly to ensure both client satisfaction and an Pro Can aunparalleled quality of work. Adding a variety of new services to its offering over the past three decades, the organization’s experience now covers commercial developments, industrial buildings, public sector buildings, residential developments, heritage conversions, and more. In the areas it describes as ‘seismic upgrades’ Pro-Can has managed many public sector projects including schools, libraries, fire halls, and community centers.

Sharing a few more details about the workings of Pro-Can with Construction Today is Leo Perez. Ideally placed to comment on the company, Leo began his career at Pro-Can at the young age of 16 ‘with a hard hat on his head and a hammer in his hand’! Today the Construction Manager, Leo oversees the daily operations of every project in which the business is involved. He began with some history. “The company was founded in 1985 by my father and his business partner, Ben Perez and Tony Alonso. They started in residential renovation but decided to move towards smaller commercial and institutional construction during the Expo 86 in Vancouver. Business grew from there and by the nineties Pro-Can had grown to include much larger jobs in the public and private sector.”

Pro-Can continued on its path to success and as the company grew and evolved, so too did Leo’s experience. Starting as an on-site carpenter, he was quickly promoted to foreman and eventually site superintendent. Continuing with the family feel of the company, Tony Alonso’s niece, Sara Pou, started work at Pro-Can as an administrative assistant in the office but soon worked her way up to a position in office management. The two have since become business partners and following Ben and Tony’s retirement in 2009, Sara and Leo took over the company and they have been moving forwards ever since.

Nowadays Pro-Can prides itself in being a specialist in three areas: institutional construction, multi-family construction, and commercial construction. Leo describes its operation as ‘a smaller kind of boutique firm that does more medium-sized, interesting projects.’

“We only work on about four or five jobs at a time, because we really want to focus on each project and give a really personal approach to what we do. Whether it is public or private sector client, everyone at Pro-Can is very involved and hands-on, and we like to keep the ‘family business’ feel to it. We don’t have a big staff, so there are about 40 of us in total and that means that a lot of people wear a lot of hats and take on a variety of different roles,” he said.

This approach of multi-skilled operatives requires a dedication to investment in training and Leo confirmed that this is definitely the case at Pro-Can. “We do invest a lot in training and promoting from within, and we have guys who have been with us for 10-15 years, and we even have employees that have been with us for 25 years. To us, it’s more about investing in people rather than equipment, as 90 to 95 per cent of our work is subbed out.Pro Can b

“It is quite a young culture at Pro-Can,” he continued. “My partner and I are in our 40s and I would say that 70 per cent of our staff are in their 30s. Construction can be quite a serious and stressful business, so we try and keep it quite light and fun, with employee events such as go-karting or paintballing (prior to Covid-19). I think the culture is one of work hard, play hard.”

The team may be small, but it contains a vast scope of expertise that can be applied to any type of construction project. Leo highlighted two great examples of Pro-Can’s work, to illustrate its work in the education sector. He began with Maddaugh Road Elementary School, which had a value of $24,600,000. “That is a brand new elementary school, so we started with a raw site that included about seven acres of trees and some old houses. We cleared and resurfaced it all, so the initial part with site preparation meant there was quite a detailed civil contract involved there. At the same time, there was some offsite work, where we rebuilt a large section of the road and some services.

“We mobilized in January 2019 and then it was in April 2019 that we started on the actual construction of the building. It was supposed to be completed by December 2020, but the interruption of Covid-19 has slowed us down a little bit but we should be delivering in January or early February 2021.” Leo’s second example of a significant Pro-Can project is the new student union building at Simon Fraser University (SFU). This multi-million scheme aims to redefine and enrich the student experience at SFU and is the largest project that Pro-Can has been involved in to date. “It is a 110,000 sq ft building, on five levels, which is located at the second largest university in Vancouver,” said Leo. “We started that job in 2017, there were some challenges due to groundwork as it is on a mountain, and there were a lot of weather delays, but it was finished in 2020 and it really is a beautiful building. Sadly, Covid-19 slowed down occupancy and it’s not currently being used as the university is shut down because of the virus, but all in all it is quite an amazing building.”

Entirely devoted to students with l ounges, study areas, meeting rooms and recreational facilities, some of the key features of the new student union building are a napping room, a community kitchen, an online gaming lounge, music rooms and a live performance stage.

“The SFU Student Union building is going to be certified LEED Gold,” added Leo, and that raised the topic of sustainability, which is very much a priority for Pro-Can. LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world, and LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership. Using the latest green construction practices and holding all of its projects to the highest environmental standards are two areas that Pro-Can is dedicated to, and Leo highlighted another aspect of this philosophy: “On some of our private sector projects we are working with the Passive House Institute to implement passive house constructability. We believe in building for the Pro Can cfuture, so this is something we are aware of and try to improve as we go forwards.”

The portfolio of projects for Pro-Can continues to grow in its impressive nature, but 2020 was a difficult year for construction as it faced the challenges of Covid-19. Nevertheless, Leo was gratified to be able to say that overall, the company has fared pretty well during the pandemic. “We had some work before Covid-19 hit and we have been able to pick up quite a bit of work afterwards too,” he noted. “A couple of couple of years ago we diversified a little bit more into the private sector with specific clients and that has been going quite well, so we can’t complain, we have been doing OK so far.”

Looking longer term, Leo concluded with some thoughts on the future. “Our immediate plans are to continue to weather the Covid-19 storm and we have started a lot of the new projects we have lined up for 2021, which is good. For the longer term, we want to continue to grow the team and the business, and create an environment where there are less up and downs and more of a smooth trajectory, if that is what you want to call it.

“I don’t think we will ever be a company that grows to 100 employees. I think we like where we are at and we want to stay there, at the $20m-$25m a year range of revenue and in that 30-40 employee range. I think that is something we want to keep for at least the next three to five years for sure.”

Pro-Can Construction Group
Services: General construction contractor

A steely determination

J&M Steel Solutions is a steel erector that – through the work of its dedicated team of experts – strives daily to achieve the best project results possible

Ever since Craig Madsen and Scott Jeppson set up J&M Steel Solutions in April of 2004, the Lehi, Utah-based steel erection company has accumulated over 270 years of experience among its team of specialists and has successfully completed close to 700 projects. Both Craig and Scott had already forged for themselves good careers within the steel erection industry prior to 2004. With Craig having developed experience in overseeing company operations and JM ainternal/external effectiveness, and Scott being highly effective in managing field crews to deliver maximum output, the pair believed that the gelling of their respective skills would prove fruitful in running a business of their own, and so it has proved to be.

“Scott and I share a vision of a company where hard work, dedication and dependability is appreciated, and we feel like we have accomplished that vision with J&M Steel Solutions,” co-owner Craig explains. “Together, we wanted to help transform the image around steel erection and iron work, moving it away from being seen as kind-of a separate entity on job sites, and making it feel a more integral part of a wider team helping to deliver projects. This has been very rewarding, and has helped the business develop trust, and close working relationships, with respected general contractors and owners in the Western States.”

The types of project completed by the company range from small compressor buildings to large facilities such as the Nucor Manufacturing Plant in Brigham City, Utah. Indeed, J&M Steel Solutions’ handiwork can be seen in a wealth of industries, from gas and energy, and mining, to industrial, aviation, and the commercial/retail sector. “One of the main reasons that contractors and owners use J&M Steel Solutions over and over again, is our ability to build projects quickly, efficiently and safely, whether it be a large airplane hangar, a multi-story office building, a hospital, or a one million square foot warehouse,” Craig continues. “As a company, we own all of our work, and our people have the diversity of experience and capabilities to take on virtually any challenge with honesty, integrity and total commitment.”

The sheer variety of different projects that the company has shown itself capable of delivering has helped it to weather any economic downturns that have occurred during the last 16 years. J&M Steel Solutions tends to attract interest from those contractors and owners that are tackling larger, more complex projects that require specialized service providers to bring them to fruition.

One of its recently completed undertakings can be found in West Valley, Utah. The Fairbourne office building is a nine-story, ‘Class A’ building, which required the incorporation of columns and base plates weighing in at an impressive 23,000-to-25,000 pounds. “This was a particularly unique project, not only due to its size, but also for its inclusion of a large solar array on the rooftop, and a 100-foot long pedestrian bridge connecting the building to a parking structure on the opposite side of the road,” Craig details. “In recent months, we have also found ourselves tasked with helping in the construction of several temples for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one in Pocatello, Idaho, and another which is currently taking shape in Saratoga Springs, Utah. These are truly beautiful buildings, and we have several more in our pipeline that we look forward to working on in the next six-to-nine months.”

The ability to deliver the results expected by its customers is at the heart of the company’s success, but Craig and Scott know that this simply would not be achievable without the work of J&M Steel Solutions’ highly motivated employees. “Simply put,” Craig says, “we would not be the successful business that we are today without our people, and we make it a point to remind our teams repeatedly that it is far easier for J&M Steel Solutions to be awarded work as a result of their hard work, their ability to hit construction targets, and to do so safely and responsibly.

“Letting our people know that they are massively valued is such an important thing for Scott and myself, and we have always believed in the positivity of treating people as individuals who matter, as opposed to being just seen as a commodity. We have gone to great lengths to provide our employees with annual bonuses to reflect their work, comprehensive health insurance, 401K retirement plans, and various support structures to aid their personal development, and I think that really sets J&M Steel Solutions apart as an employer of choice.”

Collectively, the company’s teams have all had to negotiate a year to date that has been defined by the global Covid-19 pandemic, and that Craig accurately refers to as being a ‘rollercoaster’. Fortunately for J&M Steel Solutions, in JM bUtah construction was designated early on as being an essential business, meaning that the company could continue working. Nevertheless, adjustments to usual working practices had to be made, from explaining to all site teams that if they were to travel out to a job, they would first need to pre-diagnose themselves as being free of any Covid-19 symptoms, to closing its office down for two months and have the vast majority of its people working from home. At the same time, any staff forced to isolate due to the pandemic were given the peace of mind of knowing that their wages would continue to be paid by the company.

“I have to say, I share with Scott huge admiration for our people who did a fantastic job in navigating the big transformation we had to make during the early months of the pandemic,” Craig enthuses. “Now that we are back on a number of job sites, there are also a number of things we have had to adapt to, what with social distancing and mask wearing being required across almost all locations. For those situations that do require our people to be in closer proximity, we have introduced additional PPE and hand sanitizers to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. Again, our guys have been awesome in complying with these new demands, and we absolutely appreciate their continued efforts.”

Turning the topic of conversation to the future, Craig is keen to see the company build upon the foundations it has laid to date. To do so, it hopes to enhance its capabilities – by doing things such as taking on the construction of taller, multi-story buildings for one - and take on an increasing number of new projects. “In the last few years,” he adds, “we have become more and more involved in what we identify as being ‘design-build-works, and we would like to continue with work in that area wherever possible. In the case of such projects, J&M Steel Solutions is brought in early at the design phase and asked to provide its expertise and opinion as to how best to economize key aspects such as materials and labour, before commencing with the work itself.

“Elsewhere, we are hopeful that the oil and gas industry may pick up again in the near future, as this has been somewhere where we have had good success in past years, and we are seeing more movement in the precious metals and mining sectors, where we anticipate extending our reach going forward. In conclusion, we are cautiously optimistic for what the future holds, safe in the knowledge that when the market does return to full strength, we have the right people and the right expertise in place to be awarded the projects that will help J&M Steel Solutions to grow.”

J&M Steel Solutions
Services: Steel erection company

The preferred choice

Drawing on a history stretching back to 1891, today NB Handy is able to service all its customers’ needs for metals, HVAC equipment and supplies, commercial roofing products, and machinery

A leading wholesale distributor, NB Handy holds the distinction of being successfully owned and operated by the same family for 130 years. As Bruce Christian, NB Handy’s current Chairman explained, the company was founded in NB a1891, by his great grandfather, Nathan Bryant Handy. “Although the products and industries the company has served since its inception have changed and grown, the core values of excellence and treating employees, vendors and customers like family remain strong,” he added.

Nathan Bryant Handy was a highly motivated, ambitious, and charitable person, whose career involved work in the hardware industry and even a spell as a newspaper man. He founded the business on April 1, 1891, and after 38 years of operations he built the 65 10th Street building to house his company, and the building still holds NB Handy’s corporate headquarters today. From this location, NB Handy’s team manages a market-leading business that supplies and distributes metals and fabricated metal products to both HVAC and architectural metal roofing contractors for use in commercial and residential building applications.

“We serve a broad range of customer profiles from the largest national and regional contractors to small owner/operator service and repair businesses,” Tom Mills, the company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer remarked. “Additional offerings are ‘best-in-class’ single-ply roofing products primarily for commercial applications and HVAC equipment for both commercial and residential end use. We further support both our HVAC and roofing contractor base with sales and service of fabrication machinery used in their trades. All of our products are used in both new construction as well as repair and replacement applications.”

President and CEO, Rosana Chaidez illustrated the wide depth and breadth of the products available from NB Handy, and indeed, it’s true to say that over the years of its existence, NB Handy has continuously evolved and adapted to the needs of new markets. “Today we are operating under 18 branches in the mid-Atlantic and southern United States and created distributor partnerships with reputable brands of metal, HVAC and roofing products. We also launched our own brand of metal roofing systems, Sentrigard®, and established a Steel Service Center and Machinery Division to round out the offering, and complemented all this with a full line of roofing and HVAC accessories,” Chaidez noted.

The 18 locations that Chaidez referred to are strategically situated along the Eastern Seaboard of the US, and as Ted Poulos, Vice President of Sales pointed out, this spans from Maryland to Florida. “We have plans in place to expand further into targeted areas nearby our current footprint,” he added. “Furthermore, we have the most comprehensive delivery capabilities in the business and have geared our fleet around the efficient handling of all things metal.”

Tony Bonavita, Vice President Supply Chain, believes that the metal offering from NB Handy is core to its product offering, and is deep seated in its culture, psyche, and vision. “We have a passion for metals,” he asserted. “We are energized by our metal programs and value proposition – from purchasing, warehousing, processing and manufacturing, to distributing metal sheets, coils and products to the HVAC and roofing trades. The breadth of our product offering and our service capability to our customers is world-class. Whether an HVAC contractor needs galvanized steel or products for duct fabrication or a roofing contractor is looking for painted metals for a new roof, NB Handy is the choice in the market. When you ask an NB Handy employee what we sell, the response is ‘we lead with metals!”’

Poulos continued to highlight what sets NB Handy apart from the competition: “I would not consider the typical NB Handy account manager to be a salesperson, but rather a consultant. How do we achieve this? First, we communicate with the customer from beginning to end while focusing on providing a top-class experience. Excellent customer service from dedicated, loyal Handy people is a key differentiator in our industry. Thus, guiding us to focus on value-add services that enhance the client’s bottom line. We also represent NB Handy with transparency and a high level of integrity – further increasing customer lifetime value, which is one of the pillars for a healthy relationship. A relationship NB bwithout trust has no value. Finally, we recognize the importance of training and continuing education. Therefore, we have created training programs and career pathing with all the necessary core competencies needed to succeed in a competitive sales environment. Our first choice is not to hire from competitors. It’s to develop the skills we want that complement our long-term vision.”

Having established NB Handy’s credentials and capabilities, John Capen, Senior Vice President of Sales, illustrated how the organization is prepared to adapt to client’s needs, with a real-life example. “We were given an opportunity to partner with a long-term client to provide the steel needed to fabricate rectangular ductwork for a ~2 million square foot climate-controlled manufacturing facility. The demand for this project was roughly 1.1 million pounds of galvanized coil steel. With a throughput rate of 50,000 pounds of ductwork per day, we knew that inventory would be critical to our client’s success and our reputation. Additionally, due to the volatility of steel coupled with the job’s duration, the amount of COGS riskiness had increased substantially for our client. Our commitment objective was to provide the client with a stable price for the job and ensure adequate availability. This resulted in us purchasing all the steel needed for this project in advance and placing half of the inventory in their warehouse and the other half in ours. As a result, our client was able to complete the job with no lead time on steel while not having concerns about steel market volatility.”

Poulos followed with another recent contract that highlights NB Handy’s expertise in other materials alongside metals. “We had an opportunity to partner with a client on a slate roofing job at a top-ranked university,” he said. “NB Handy’s portion of this project consisted of 30 truckloads of Vermont slate along with ~80,000 pounds of copper. Due to the uniqueness of natural stone, all the slate had to be procured at one time to avoid inconsistencies. The magnitude of the job presented some storage limitations for the supplier and our client. Consequently, we were able to work with the supplier to secure a location to store the slate – only shipping what would be needed in the immediate future. This resulted in our client providing the university with a uniform product while staying in compliance with job-site storage regulations.”

The two case studies go a long way to demonstrating NB Handy’s willingness to go the extra mile for its clients. This approach stood the business in good stead in 2020, when confronted with the challenges presented by coronavirus and the global pandemic. Kim Hull, Vice President of Human Resources, shed some light on how the company’s operations changed to deal with Covid-19 – as an essential employer, NB Handy has remained opened for business and continued normal operations. “We implemented a Covid-19 Preparedness Plan, which includes all CDC guidelines and state mandates to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees and customers. Several changes were executed to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic such as: telework options as appropriate, curb-side pickup for our customers, installation of sneeze guards at our branch counters, touchless thermometers and masks provided for all locations and implemented measures to reduce expenses according to revised forecasts. All things considered, we did very well. The construction industry remained strong throughout 2020,” she stated.

“Our employees come first!” reiterated Chaidez, emphasizing the importance of the right people philosophy. “Our motto is ‘culture trumps strategy’. We hire based on our values and we enjoy a family like culture. Mario Puzo said, ‘The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in the loyalty to the other.’ We reward loyalty and want to invest in employees who want to be part of this family.”

Chaidez continued with some insight into the shared future vision that runs throughout NB Handy, as the employees at the business play a pivotal role in its ongoing success: “Our vision for growth is aggressive and bold and we feel confident in our success to get it done. The execution of our strategy is dependent on our skilled staff; and focused on the needs of our customers,” she stated. “We will continue to lead with high touch relationships, strong product offering, and the best distribution services known in our industry. We will continue to make investments in technology to make it easy for customers and suppliers to partner with NB Handy.”

Looking further ahead, Bonavita and Mills expect 2021 to be a somewhat challenging environment as the economic effects of the pandemic continue to be felt but are confident the company can handle what it comes up against. “While the residential segments of our business are expected to boost growth, our commercial side may face some headwinds. However, our opportunities to grow and expand our offerings are much larger than the challenges we face! NB Handy looks forward to another great year of growth in 2021,” said Mills.

Undeterred by the challenges of 2020, NB Handy is set to continue to strive for excellence to be the ‘Preferred Choice’ to its employees, customers, and vendor partners. Crediting its robust longevity to Mr. Handy’s founding principles - passion, integrity, innovation, intelligent strategy, adaptability, and accountability, NB Handy has survived and thrived for over a century, and Chaidez shared some final words on the importance of flexibility. “We have cultivated success for 130 years due to our ability to evolve with the demands of the market and our customers,” she concluded.

NB Handy Company
Services: NB Handy is a distributor of metals, HVAC, commercial roofing and machinery products

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