Over the past 30 years, EllisDon’s Southwestern Ontario Special Projects team, a specialized, mobile division handling fit-ups, renovations, rework of building envelopes, services, general repairs and maintenance, has grown from a small team into a division to help clients and owners with any project big or small.
The Daily Commercial News recently asked questions about the division and responses were provided by Steve Keith, EllisDon Special Projects manager for southwestern Ontario.
1. When was EllisDon’s Southwestern Ontario Special Projects team developed and why?
EllisDon’s Special Projects Division was started 30 years ago to service EllisDon’s existing owners and clients. Past clients and owners would call EllisDon for assistance on the simple construction things like relocating a door and EllisDon took this opportunity to set up a small group.
This group, which consisted of three people, has now grown into the Special Projects Division. Over the years we have had to rethink our strategy as most of EllisDon’s larger projects have become more complex (design, build, finance, and maintain). Therefore, we started thinking outside the box, such as going out and assisting other general contractors looking for competitive pricing on subtrade work like selective demolition and concrete.
2. What scopes of work does it specialize in?
Some of our self-perform capabilities consist of selective demolition, concrete, light civil, infection/dust control systems, rough and finish carpentry, epoxy and self levelling, firestopping and waterproofing and project management. We assist some of EllisDon’s larger projects with hoardings, selective demolition and concrete.
After the larger projects are complete we stay in touch with the clients and owners to assist in any way we can. If we can’t do something we ensure we assist in finding the people that can. The trend has been increasing in opportunities and call backs.
3. Who is the team comprised of?
The team is comprised of a manager, project manager, three superintendents and a co-ordinator. Our team has a well-rounded skill set. We have up-to-date training and certification, positive attitudes, experience and flexibility.
4. What areas does it serve?
The team operates mainly in southwestern Ontario but has also expanded to other areas including northern Ontario. We serve mostly the London, Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo areas. But we have gone as far as Windsor and Hamilton.
Also, we perform work in Sault Ste. Marie and have been expanding our footprint in the surrounding areas.
5. What are some examples of projects that have been completed by the team?
It’s hard just to state a few as we complete approximately 200 projects a year mostly within the health care, institutional, industrial and commercial sectors.
Last year we assisted in setting up an offsite COVID-19 screening centre for a local hospital. Right now we are assisting with an install of a new beverage line at a large food manufacturing plant. We are also finishing up four public schools for other general contractors.
6. Does the team handle projects of all sizes?
There is nothing too small. We do it all.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a $5,000 repair, a $50,000 renovation, or a $500,000 fit-out, our special projects team is ready to help. After all, these are the types of projects that got us (EllisDon) started 70 years ago.
7. What are some of the challenges the team has run into?
Getting new clients to take a chance on us can be a challenge. It’s a competitive industry for smaller construction projects. We pride ourselves on obtaining long-term relationships and prefer to be upfront with our owners when it comes to what they need to consider for both short term and long-term life cycle for their projects and facility.
Time is a valuable thing and we want to make sure we are on the same page for it to be done right the first time. Another challenge is that our clients look at us only dealing with large projects. As a division of EllisDon, clients think we are only interested in the big stuff, which is simply not true.
8. Has the team been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Not really. We took this opportunity to step up our service and help out. Helping hospitals, schools, malls and manufacturing plants set up their COVID-19 testing and screening centres. The need for these services has slowed down.
9. What is your vision for the future of the team?
Our vision is growth and to continue to provide construction service to our trusted clients and owners the best way we know how to.
We are always looking for new opportunities to strengthen our team. Expanding our self-performing portfolio is the key to our growth.
Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.