Con-Tech stands as a success in the construction world through its commitment to customer relationships and project efficiency.
There aren’t too many things you can build that Con-Tech General Contractors doesn’t have experience doing. As a Saskatoon-based construction company, they’re very multi-functional. In fact, Con-Tech is active in general contracting, commercial design-build, project management, consulting and construction management since 1994.
According to Finance and Administration Manager, Mike Lawton, and Sales and Design Manager, Duane Shapka, the company’s abilities are interconnected – ensuring a safe work place, and having a team of skilled employees, all lead to excellent value for their clients. At Con-Tech, their wealth of internal expertise means they can go above and beyond simply managing a job for a client, their internal fleet of equipment coupled with a large in house skilled labour force help deliver projects on time and on budget, while maintaining six key core values that define their company beliefs. “We have regular meetings and discussions that develop the internal culture, our vision and core values,” Lawton stated. “There are six pillars of aligned core values that are the basis for a more productive team. They consist of Integrity and Honesty, Commitment to Excellence, Individual Well-Being, Family Matters, Team Development, and Long Term Partnerships. All employees believe in them and use these values to conduct their everyday decision making. If there’s a decision you need to make, and it violates any of these six core values, you’re not making the right decision. It’s how we manage our processes, and we have seen great strides in our people making the right decisions.”
These measurable standards and adherence to them make the backbone of Con-Tech’s operations and lay the very foundation of how they define excellence on their projects. These pillars and values provide a roadmap for their decisions and a benchmark for their actions that allows them to cover all facets of the project from inception to delivery. Because of this, they have carved a niche in delivering technical projects, including commercial and industrial buildings, aviation terminals, churches, and manufacturing facilities. Their projects mostly range in value from $1 million to $6 million, but they will deliver any size project for the right client. “We don’t have a minimum project size,” explains Lawton. “Especially when the customer is a long term client, we’ll help them out, no matter how big or small the project is. This helps to strengthen our relationships and results in numerous referrals. There are many customers we work with on a repeat basis and when they have other projects whether it is reno work, building expansions or various other things, we do whatever we can to help them out. You never know where your next job is coming from so you treat every customer with the utmost respect and honesty. We do good work and adhere to standards that everyone expects.”
When it comes to setting themselves apart from other contractors, Lawton and Shapka credit the personalized attention, the team’s strong ability to listen, and flexibility during the construction project as key components in the marketplace. “When we go into the sales and design process, we treat new customer leads like they are already a customer, and we go the extra mile on the design, the estimate and the final quote up front so they understand our commitment to quality and service,” Lawton states.
On a related note, Shapka adds “Getting through the entire job with little or no changes in the contract price is ideal, so we invest as much energy as possible in the proposal phase as to identify anything the customer may not have realized they needed to include in the project scope. Obviously changes do happen, so when the customer requests certain changes, we are always flexible and strive to create solutions as quickly and economically as possible.” Considering no two buildings are identical, Con-Tech takes its time working with the client to fully understand the specific project objectives. Only then does the company create a package that includes conceptual design, committed price and an achievable construction schedule. Shapka adds “When you rely on your relationships for your next lead and design build is your model, happy customers are the best sales force you could ever get. We work very hard to ensure our customers are getting the best value for their investment and are treated as fairly as possible”
As a design builder, Con-Tech offers a variety of services through their Varco Pruden metal building partnership, allowing them to meet each client’s individual needs. What distinguishes Varco Pruden buildings from traditional building systems is the design through the use of VP’s advanced engineering software which allows Con-Tech to design and price the pre-engineered steel portion of the job in conjunction with our in-house architectural design team; creating unique metal building designs that are energy efficient and provide decades of trouble-free performance. “There’s a long list of benefits of using Varco Pruden building systems, from their design software and flexibility of the product to the people on the other end of the phone. Timelines are usually very sensitive in our projects and when we do request a tighter delivery time frame they are usually able to accommodate. We’ve had a long relationship with them and they provide us with really great service,” Shapka says.
A CLOSE-KNIT TEAM
Full time, Con-Tech employs 80 people, and Lawton says the corporate culture is very positive. Their turnover rate is low, and he says their employees feel a strong bond to the company. In general, Lawton describes the company’s corporate culture as being one centred on “high performance,” and says that the company continuously invests in training to ensure that every employee has a skillset that meets or exceeds industry standards. “Everyone pulls together and learns from each other. We have a management structure that really encourages collaboration and if you’re not sure, ask your neighbour. With the group we have, nobody is averse to trying new things. We have a general culture where good enough isn’t good enough, and we’re always looking for ways to do things a little bit better. It has really helped to drive innovation and keep everybody positively engaged as we grow.”
So much so that Con-Tech was a finalist for the Employee Retention & Development Award – sponsored by Saskatchewan Polytechnic, awarded to the NSBA business that pursues excellence through employee development and training. They also had the honour of being chosen as finalists in two categories for the 2016 SABEX Awards through Celebrate Success, representing the best in Saskatoon’s business community. These categories include the Growth and Expansion award– a nomination for businesses who have experienced significant growth in business’ over the past few years, and the Safe Employer award – for a business demonstrating exceptional performance in ensuring all employees are working in a safe and productive environment.
Con-Tech’s level of commitment and dedication doesn’t end with its customers and employees, they also foster relationships with their trades and sub-contractors, making for a more efficient and effective completion of any given project.
“Our relationships with our trades are vital to our success. We incorporate our key partners in meetings with customers and our management team, working together to collaborate and create the best possible outcomes for our customers. There has to be a mutual trust between all parties,” Lawton adds.
THE RIGHT SYSTEMS
Safety is an important focus for any construction project, and Con-Tech remains committed to going above and beyond in order to create safe working conditions for its employees and sub- contractors. They have implemented a strong safety program that includes providing employees with the appropriate personal protective equipment, safe work practices, safety meetings, job hazard analyses, and safe work training programs to ensure a safe work environment for everybody. According to Lawton, this proactive approach and commitment is one of the company’s most integral assets.
“We proudly display our key safety certifications, like our COR Certification (Certification of Recognition), and our ISNET Certification which gives our customers the assurance that we have a safety program that meets their standards. We have grown in the Occupational Health and Safety field in that we now have two staff members directly focused on all things safety. The key is to not have safety and production become confrontational to each other, which can be the case if it’s not handled properly. It’s best to have safety, production, and human resources, all working together to complete the job safely all while delivering a quality product to the customer,” says Lawton.
With so much project diversity, Con-Tech has had great opportunities to get involved with some interesting projects. ‘An exciting project we recently finished was for Kavia Auto Body. It’s a 20,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility that was a great design build project. The owner had put significant thought into how he needed his facility to function, so the majority of the space planning had been pretty well thought out. But it gave our design team a chance to try some new things to give the exterior the unique appearance that they were looking for” states Shapka. “Another significant project that we’re finishing up is a building for Security Building Supplies, at an impressive 32,000 sq. ft. it is a great example of the flexibility we have with pre-engineered steel and thinking outside the box. It will contain a large showroom area, office development and warehouse space. It was another one of those situations where they had a strong idea of what they wanted and prepared a thorough request for proposal for a design build project. We added a few design elements here and there that really enhanced their original ideas and were able to win the job with the strength of our proposal. That project is also a great example of how efficient the design build method of construction can be, we have basically gone from signing a contract to producing architectural drawings with our in-house design team and we’ll achieve substantial completion of the project in under 12 months,” he adds.
BUILDING THEIR COMPANY
With several projects underway, it’s important to always be looking to the future. Moving forward, Lawton says their goal is to continue down the path they are already on – they want to keep building high quality projects with result-satisfied clients. They are in the position to expand and are excited to find more highly qualified staff to support them with growth. “In the last few years we have shown strong growth. We’ve grown at a double digit percentage rate in terms of both work volume and staffing levels and we want to continue that growth. Through our diversity in customers and projects we have been able to weather some of the ups and downs of the construction market. We have outgrown our current facility where we operate our main office and maintenance shop, so we are building our new head-quarters in the north end of Saskatoon. This project is slated to start June 30th and by next year by this time, we’ll be fully moved into our new facility. This should set us up for the long term where we can continue to grow our equipment fleet, our personnel base, and our shop space. Right now we are at 80 employees and going back to 2013 we only had 37. This year’s growth will depend on a few things but our field staffing levels will increase over the summer months and it’s going to be another busy year. We’re thinking we could even hit a hundred employees by the end of the year.” With that said, it is clear that expectations have been set high for Con-Tech as it embarks on its next stage of growth in Saskatoon. With the right team in place, driven by their core values, the next stage of growth is right on the horizon.