Steel Creek Developers, a construction and development company that specializes in serving smaller Prairie communities, will soon be pioneering the use of a new lightweight pre-cast concrete wall and floor panel that has the potential cut the construction time of a project by as much as 50 per cent.
The use of this new product by the Hepburn, Sask.-based contractor is in keeping with the innovative approach to design and construction that has been a hallmark of the company’s eight-year history.
Steel Creek was founded in 2015 by the Rempel family who are originally from southwestern Manitoba. “My father, my two brothers and I bring together different skill sets,” says Trevor Rempel. “We were able to identify solutions for smaller communities in Manitoba and Saskatchewan by really understanding their needs.”
One of those needs, Rempel points out, are hotels with popular amenities such as swimming pools, water slides and restaurants.
“The first hotel we built was in Souris (in southwestern Manitoba),” he notes. “While we were both project manager and contractor on that build, we found it rather difficult to combine the two roles. In subsequent projects, we have served as developer and project manager and contracted out the construction.”
Thus far, Steel Creek has built Blue Crescent Hotels in Carman and Rivers in southern Manitoba, in addition to Souris, and a hotel in Grenfell, Sask.
The company’s newest project is a $7.5-million, 30-room hotel in Arborg, a community of about 1,200, which is located roughly 120 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
“What we look for in a community as potential locations for our hotels is their role as regional centres in need of modern accommodation for hosting construction workers and other tradesmen as well as regional events such as hockey tournaments which bring in people and families,” Rempel explains.
Steel Creek also seeks out local investors to contribute 50 per cent of funding for the hotel projects with credit unions providing the remainder.
Rempel notes the company’s ability to raise local dollars for their hotel developments has been helped by Manitoba’s small business venture capital tax credit for up to 45 per cent of an investor’s stake.
He adds the company is lobbying Saskatchewan to introduce a similar program.
The Rempel family has proven to be as innovative in design for their growing Blue Crescent hotel chain as they have been in raising the funds to build the hotels.
“We carefully considered our potential customer base,” Rempel observes. “A big part of our clientele are construction crews. They really appreciate our split rooms approach.”
As he explains it, Blue Crescent rooms are in essence two bedrooms divided by a shared bathroom — with each side having a bed and television.
“This approach allows companies to save on hotel bills by doubling up their employees while at the same time providing a measure of privacy for everyone,” he says.
Construction of Steel Creek’s next Blue Crescent hotel is scheduled to begin by the end of the year in Niverville, just east of Winnipeg.
And, Rempel points out, while the Arborg build was along traditional standards, in Niverville the company is partnering with Exatec Building Systems, new company that will be based in Winnipeg, that has acquired the rights to manufacture the lightweight pre-cast concrete.
Production is expected to begin early in the new year, he reports.
“On our previous construction projects, we have used a modular system based on wood,” the Steel Creek co-principal notes.
“We are anticipating that we will be able to continue to use a modular approach with this new product which, we believe, will speed up the construction process and improve the quality of our work. We are looking forward to gaining experience with this new form of concrete. It sounds like it will be great.”
He adds the manufacturer will be able to use the Niverville Blue Crescent Hotel to showcase the new concrete product.
“Once we have gained experience with this product, we will be able to use the technology on more projects throughout Western Canada,” Rempel says.
“We are looking forward to a long-term relationship with the manufacturer.”
The Niverville Blue Crescent property is budgeted at between $13 and $15 million and will have 74 rooms and include a water park.
Both the new Arborg and Niverville hotels are scheduled to open next year.