Diversification is Key to Success

Fieldgate Construction Management Ltd.

The ability to change with the market makes for smart business, and this company has done just that for the past 60 years. Founded in 1957, Fieldgate Homes experienced impressive low-rise homebuilding success across Ontario, and is now adding on to this success with its 13 years in commercial development as Fieldgate Construction Management Ltd.

By placing value and emphasis on reliability, relationships and personal growth, and delivering on quality construction promises, Fieldgate has stayed impressively ahead of the game at every turn, ensuring each new project the company undertakes reflects its dedication to diversification.

Already a longtime leader in the development of commercial properties, Fieldgate Construction Management was created to service expanding residential neighbourhood sectors, moving into the construction of exceptional residential, industrial and office buildings while developing long-term, dependable partnerships with employees, clients and contractors alike. Some recent notable projects include the Grand Touring Automobile Dealership in Toronto, the Clair Marketplace in Guelph, and Aurora’s Kingsway Arms retirement home expansion, to name a few.

But when excelling in your specialized field, it’s vital to understand that continued growth and future success means transformation, and change is one aspect of business that Fieldgate knows well.

“We started out in homebuilding, but due to market demand and the need to grow, we began building commercial plazas and then expanding into building residential, office and industrial buildings,” says Vice President Robert Alonso. “As the market changed and demands changed, we did as well.”

Fieldgate’s wide-ranging work history and experience allows the company to tackle a variety of ventures with a high standard of quality and professional results, beginning with the initial concept phase, through pre-construction, construction and the post-construction phases of any project. Its highly skilled team of estimators, coordinators, project managers and construction site staff work both with each other and with clients to ensure the final product is unparalleled.

“Our success is due to surrounding ourselves with people who believe in and support the company, and most of our staff has been with us since the inception,” says Alonso. “Our staff is a big part of our success and by making certain they have a positive work environment, they ensure our company’s success.”

With a strong presence in Ontario and anticipated continued growth there, Fieldgate maintains strong, long-term relationships with local suppliers and, very importantly, with subcontractors. Having subcontractors that want to work with them is a good indicator that they’re doing something right, says Alonso.

“There are many subcontractors we’ve used for years, and because of that, we’ve built up important relationships with them. They know what’s expected of them and they perform for us. Their success is our success. Really, it’s a team effort.”

Fieldgate also strives to stay connected to clients at every phase of the development process, believing that pre-construction planning is critical to achieving an overall seamless and successful outcome. Team experts provide valuable, cost-effective alternatives and advice, and also assist on the municipal level; for instance, helping clients acquire permits to expedite construction.

“We’re very involved with our clients and their prospective projects. From very early on we are heavily involved through the entire construction process from preconstruction to building and post warranty. We will help with maintenance or small renovations, or complete whatever they need for years down the road,” says Alonso. “Obviously, with success comes return clients, and we’ve worked with some clients for many years — they trust us, and trust our commitment to them and their business.”

Alonso also credits the company’s dedication to transparency in all aspects of the process to Fieldgate’s ongoing success.

“Much of our work is construction management, so transparency is very important to all parties. We ensure clients understand all the costs and what’s involved at every step so that there are no surprises along the way or at the end of every project.”

Keeping employees happy by supporting healthy relationships is also something that Fieldgate takes to heart.

“We believe strong employee relationships are key to the success of our company,” says Alonso. “We like to think we create a pleasant but challenging atmosphere, which we hope everyone appreciates. We also like to have a ‘team-oriented’ atmosphere, built on trust and open communication. We think that if you foster that, it allows everyone to work and communicate more effectively.”

Mutual respect also figures into the Fieldgate success statement, and one that Alonso works hard to cultivate on a daily basis.

“Respect between the people you work with is important; valuing their ideas and input is critical. Working in this type of environment, you can develop solutions based on collective insights, experience and creativity, which fosters a better project overall.”

Fieldgate also takes a strong stance in giving back to the community, holding charity very highly in its mission statement.

“Giving back to various organizations across all spectrums is at the core of who we are and what we’re about,” says owner Ezra Jakubovic. “Fieldgate has always been charitable and it’s a big priority for all of us.”

Challenges over the years have been met head-on with tenacity and creativity, handled by adapting to the changing climate.

“We have changed with market demand,” says Alonso. “We started out strictly as a commercial plaza builder, and when that work dried up, we needed to diversify and expand into other markets, which is why we expanded into automotive dealerships, offices and retirement homes and condos, plus our first storage facility which we’re building now, with hopefully more coming next spring.”

The company currently has five retirement homes projects underway, both in the building and preconstruction phase. Fieldgate Retirement Living, an adult lifestyle community, will span Ontario with environments created to both support and engage residents with physical, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual needs.

Alonso hopes to keep Fieldgate expanding over the next couple of years, mainly into the area of retirement homes, storage facilities and residential condos.

“The demand for these types of buildings has not yet plateaued,” he says. “I think working diligently to build more of these buildings is vital, as huge growth is expected in these areas in the future.”

Fieldgate currently has a number of condo projects underway in Toronto and Milton, plus two 22-storey towers planned for Pickering next spring.

Alonso notes the completion of 90 Niagara as a big accomplishment and source of pride for Fieldgate.

“It was something unfamiliar to us and we completed it on time and with no major issues — it was a great success!” he says. “It was a compact, very difficult high-end condo with little room to stage construction. Every time we venture into a risky and unfamiliar area it’s a huge accomplishment to come out of it successfully. Our first retirement home was also a big milestone.”

Along with the ability to adapt, Alonso also cites the importance of having a solid business plan outlining specific strategies for company plans and how best to deal with any obstacles.

“Even the best plans have to be thrown in the fire every now and then, and you need to adjust due to unforeseen circumstances,” he says, “so having a management team to meet that challenge is really a key to a company’s overall success.”

Success for any business, of course, comes down to whether it’s financially viable, but for Fieldgate, there are other important factors in the mix as well, says Alonso.

“The financial success of a project is important, but for us, success is also measured by satisfied clients who come back to us year after year. Most, if not all, of our business, is repeat. They trust us and they know what to expect. That’s how we measure success.”

Seeing Red

In 2018, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released several of the worst examples of so-called “Red Tape” that businesses and developers need to complete before getting projects off the ground. The list reads almost as a cautionary tale for anyone hoping to get a development, whether a condominium or a warehouse, completed quickly and on time.

December 14, 2019, 5:30 AM EST