Best-in-Class Construction

Leeswood Construction

Leeswood Construction is a construction firm that supports clients on industrial and commercial projects across Canada from its two offices in Mississauga, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta.

Though it has been in operation since 1992, Leeswood Construction has spent the last ten years refining its projects, its culture, its relationships and its approach, reinforcing its reputation for quality and demonstrating what sets it apart from the competition. As a leading construction firm, clients rely on Leeswood Construction for new construction, renovations, restorations, retrofits and fit-outs, utilizing the company’s design-build, integrated project delivery (IPD), construction management, space planning, sustainability, zoning and permitting services.

Partners Michael Clark, Brad Woodbine and Pat Spanjers took over Leeswood Construction in 2009. The company had a solid foundation they could build upon, and with the help of their established synergies working a history of successful projects, they would actualize its full potential.

“They continued with the strong reputation that the original owners established and that’s why they were comfortable taking on the Leeswood name and carrying it on,” explained Marina Vrzalkovski, Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Marketing.

Leeswood quickly grew from three employees to over fifty in the Greater Toronto Area and in 2015, a second office was established in Calgary and a fourth partner was added – Richard Mulvale, to service the opportunities in Western Canada.

Discussing the design-build and IPD approach which Leeswood is known for, Vrzalkovski comments, “It’s a way of building that offers a lot of value to the client and it is the most advantageous to the client,” especially when business is conducted in an honest, transparent and visible manner.

“We are able to get involved with the clients right up front, in the design and planning stages, and work closely with them, the consultants, and the subtrades to value engineer projects that can get in for approvals much quicker and out of the ground much faster. That has been our real strength, but we are not limited to design-build projects. We do a lot of build-spec also,” Vrzalkovski explained.

The team at Leeswood Construction is rich with talent and brings an exceptional level of service and care to both relationships with clients and their projects. As Vrzalkovski noted, “It’s not just, ‘you come to us to build a building’; we develop a relationship where we want to help you build your next ten buildings. We can help a client carry forward or establish their brand; their success is our success, so that’s been what sets us apart from other companies.”

Prologis is an example of how Leeswood Construction builds relationships that are meant to last. As Vrzalkovski explained, “We worked with them specifically on implementing their LEED strategies across all their buildings. We understand their brand and their specific requirements and can execute them efficiently.”

As a client-centric firm with a long-term vision, the company works with its partners to create functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces by anticipating structural and design challenges and requirements, streamlining processes, and finding the most cost-effective, safe and efficient building solutions. The projects in its portfolio speak for themselves in this regard.

“One thing that is evident right away is how clean and efficient our sites run. A clean and efficient site means a safe site, and safety is our top priority. We are in the process of building a dedicated department for safety and we have worked with a lot of third-party consultants to manage our safety. We have a clean record not only on safety, but we have zero litigation with our company, which is really a testament to the relationships we have built,” said Vrzalkovski.

Indeed, the Leeswood name is attached to countless notable projects, from retirement and long-term care facilities to warehouses and distribution centres, office spaces, data centres, food and processing facilities and so much more.

“In 2011 we worked with KingSett Capital and we did a refresh of an entire business park, updating all the offices, the industrial warehouses – multiple buildings. Sometimes they were just shell buildings and sometimes we worked directly with the tenants of Aero Business Park,” Vrzalkovski explained. The following year, Leeswood Construction helped FedEx achieve the fastest site plan approval on record for the City of Scarborough, which certainly helped speed up timelines and ensure project outcomes were fulfilled.

Throughout the years, Leeswood Construction has successfully aligned itself with award winning projects and teams. The company has been the recipient of NAIOP REX (Commercial Real Estate Development Association) awards: Industrial Lease of the Year for Hilroy Canada (a 357,000 square foot renovation), Industrial Development of the Year for Prologis Tapscott Distribution Centre (three new LEED Silver distribution buildings totalling just under 500,000 square feet) and Office Development of the Year for 7100 West Credit (a LEED Gold multi-storey new office facility).

Adding to the repertoire of achievements, the team has been a part of numerous award-winning projects, like Wurth Canada’s head office and distribution centre in Guelph, Ontario. As Vrzalkovski noted, “It’s a beautiful, striking building. It is curved, with bright red paneling, and has raised access flooring in the office and state of the art technology and automation in their warehouse; it’s a distinguished building,” referring to it as a “red” feather in Leeswood’s cap.

Currently, Toyota is drawing on Leeswood Construction’s experience and expertise to help it achieve its sustainability goals at its new facility in Southern Ontario, part of the company’s global strategy. Vrzalkovski explained, “Toyota in Clarington has a really ambitious facility that they are building; it is an office and distribution centre and it is not only LEED, but they are going for net zero carbon. They are effectively leading by example in the industry.”

There is significant opportunity for Leeswood in the context of sustainability, as clients are compelled both through policy prescriptions and their own corporate responsibility strategies to build and operate sustainably. The City of Toronto, for instance, has ambitious plans to reduce city-wide emissions, aiming for an eighty percent reduction by the year 2050, which means Leeswood Construction is well poised to help support that billion-dollar construction market.

“Sustainability and zero carbon is the future. We’re taking the lead, in part by hosting lunch and learns with our employees in-house and extending them to our consultants, developers and clients so that we are all educated and ready,” said Vrzalkovski. Education is also a big part of Leeswood’s success, and the company supports opportunities for both personal and professional development to ensure it remains best-in-class across the industrial and commercial sectors it serves.

“We’re at the forefront of retirement homes and storage facilities and now we can offer up some expertise in those markets as they have gotten a bit more traction – same with huge warehouses,” including a 1.1 million square foot warehousing and logistics facility for DSV in Milton, Ontario.

Another emerging market Leeswood Construction sees opportunity in is the regeneration of old malls and shopping facilities that are deteriorating and instead can be converted into functional retail, residential and public spaces. There is boundless potential as the traditional shopping mall largely becomes a thing of the past.

This year is momentous for Leeswood as it celebrates ten years under its current leadership team. This team has taken the firm to new levels of success and has laid the foundation for lasting relationships with clients, subcontractors, consultants and the communities it calls home.

“Over the last ten years, our company has done an amazing job of building confidence through our subtrades, through our consultants, through our clients, and in the industry as a whole. We are at our milestone of ten years and we have graduated to our motto of Best-In-Class: that’s best-in-class of not only who we hire – our employees – but best-in-class relationships across the board,” said Vrzalkovski.

The team often comes together both in a professional and personal sense and has become a family unit and this makes Leeswood Construction an attractive place to work with a culture that appeals to clients, consultants and subtrades who all want to be a part of the tribe. This is especially important as available talent continues to diminish and becomes increasingly dear throughout the industry as a whole.

Leeswood Construction also has a philanthropic side that complements its culture. Recently, the company announced a pledge to donate a total of $150,000 to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. It not only builds the structures that visibly change communities, it invests in the organizations that bring the structures and the communities it calls home to life. And as the company grows, the more positive work it can do.

“I don’t think our company mandate has ever been to grow to be the biggest, but we don’t want to stay a boutique size doing only fit-outs, so it’s a challenge, a very strategic balance to maintain,” Vrzalkovski said. “Everyone keeps asking if the construction bubble is going to burst; it can at any moment, and you have to be ready, and I think that Leeswood has been able to keep that balance.”

Though the team loves to take on new and challenging projects that support its continued growth, Leeswood Construction is taking great effort not to alienate clients or reject smaller projects, because it was the fit-outs and retrofits that enabled the company to succeed when the new partners took over in 2009 in the midst of a recession.

“A lot of people thought they were crazy starting a company when people were fighting for work, but it was perfect timing because the partners had pre-existing relationships and they were able to offer clients alternatives to building ‘new’ with solutions of cost-effective tenant fit-out work and efficient retrofits,” explained Vrzalkovski.

On all its projects, Leeswood Construction invests its full capacity and resources to ensure the delivery of best-in-class outcomes. This never-ending pursuit of excellence will ensure that the Leeswood name is around and reputed as the best-in-class for decades to come.

Bespoke Backyards

Years ago, backyard beautification usually meant planting some flowers, adding a couple of shrubs, and laying down a few patio stones to create a small deck. Outdoor furniture – if you could truly call it ‘furniture’ – usually comprised a picnic table and aluminum lawn chairs with uncomfortable, sticky plastic mesh seats and backs. Barbecuing was still somewhat exotic, and most outdoor grillers used folding barbecues or tiny rectangular hibachis. Unless among the wealthy, in-ground pools were few, with above-ground corrugated steel or plastic versions more likely.

July 22, 2019, 5:40 PM EDT