Xcellence in Manitoba
MX Group Ltd.
The MX Group Ltd. of Winnipeg boasts a wide range of services and a feisty, independent spirit. The company offers home renovation, restoration and construction and has a boardroom lined with guitars, a greeter dog and a big heart. The same firm that prides itself on rapid growth and booming revenues has provided generous charitable services free of cost.
MX Group owner Garry McBurney founded MX Group in 2003. The name of the firm is short for “Manitoba Xcellence,” he explains. McBurney describes his workforce as a big family with high morale. “Realistically, there isn’t another company in Manitoba that does all the services we do. … We’re full-service.”
Indeed, MX provides the kind of services that might normally entail multiple contractors from multiple companies.
“We offer twenty-four-hour emergency response when disasters strike; insurance-based restoration services; an ICC accredited flooring store; as well as a range of comprehensive commercial and residential renovations services including roofing, environmental, maintenance and painting services,” says Stan Lobchuk, Director of Organizational Development at MX Group.
It will clean up after catastrophes and fix damage from wind, water, floods, smoke, lightning and hail. The company also tackles mould damage and sewage backup. In addition to doing renovations and restoration, MX recently added house-building to its roster of jobs.
“Our new homes division was created in 2013 to meet the demand throughout Manitoba for detached houses that are functional and practical. All of our floor plans are meticulously designed for maximum functionality with our customers in mind. MX homes also offer premium features including triple-pane windows, walk-in pantry, upgraded millwork packages and stunning exterior options,” says McBurney.
Company growth has been explosive on several fronts. In early days, the firm consisted of McBurney and a handful of workers. As recently as three years ago, MX only had ten to fifteen employees. Today, there are one hundred personnel in different divisions.
“We run lean to ensure our employees get their full-time hours,” states Lobchuk.
The company’s space has also grown from a small, 2,500-square-foot location to an impressive 50,000-square-foot warehouse and headquarters space in 2013. MX’s leadership say revenues have increased nine times over what they were three years ago.
“The industry is very ‘feast or famine’ – busy or dead,” says Lobchuk. “Where one division slows, typically the other picks up, allowing the employees to maintain steady hours. This in turns helps with retention. Good employee retention and sustainable long-term clients keep us busy year round.”
He adds, “Our portfolio doesn’t lie in just one category. We focus strongly on insurance-based restoration but are the preferred vendor with a number of property management companies and provincial agencies. We were recently cleared … [to] bid on federal contracts. We are bonded and licensed to do work in pretty much any facility and we have done work in every type of place: hospitals, schools, law enforcement buildings, women’s shelters, prisons, government buildings. You name it; we’ve been there.”
The company’s Senior Project Manager is LEED accredited (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and MX holds an IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certificate) accreditation and has a COR (Certificate of Recognition) certified safety program.
Keeping true to the company’s Manitoba roots is another secret to MX’s success. The company is proudly Manitoba-based, doing work as far afield as Churchill – a sub-Arctic city on the shoreline of Hudson Bay. MX has done jobs in Saskatchewan and near the Ontario border, but for now wants to remain in its home province.
“We are always looking at opportunities to expand, but it needs to be the right timing,” explains Lobchuk.
As a homegrown success story, MX has forged a reputation for reliability and excellent customer relations.
“Word gets around quickly, and you either make it or break it in this province. Our success speaks for itself through its organic growth. People want to ‘trust’ their contractor. We instill that trust by the quality of work and integrity of our people. Trust in this industry is earned. We build relationships as well as renovate/restore property,” says Lobchuk.
Asked what’s unique about MX’s work culture, Lobchuk waxes philosophic.
“The answer is, ‘everything.’ We have a unique culture the company is very proud of. We have no need to recruit people, as we generally have people approach us. The culture of the company is like one I’ve never seen, part family, part business, part rock n roll. The MX family consists of individuals that are screened for a ‘fit’ to the organization. There is a strong cohesive bond between the employees and owner. Our boardroom is lined with guitars, and we have a company dog, Chevy, that is our company’s official greeter. People who have suffered a loss due to wind, water, fire et cetera are already in a fragile state. When they visit our offices, they are presented with a friendly, relaxed environment and Chevy. Providing a calm environment and caring staff hopefully makes their experience less stressful,” he explains.
The bottom line, states Lobchuk is that “our customers are our main priority, and they have no time for company drama and politics.”
The MX leadership have two specific projects of which they are particularly proud.
“A project that comes to mind was a job that propelled us to the next level. A very large company which we cannot name planted its roots in Winnipeg. Winnipeg had been waiting for their presence for many years and, finally, they arrived. Shortly after the doors were opened, there was a torrential downpour, and the entire facility was flooded (approximately 250,000 square feet on the main level). Our emergency services were contacted. We were nowhere near the size we are now, with limited resources and few employees, but we took on a job that appeared insurmountable. Through dedicated people and hard work, we had the business up and running in record time,” says Lobchuk.
This project paid dividends for MX, as people started to take notice of the company, he adds.
The second job involved a Winnipeg senior citizen named Karin Shaw, who left her house in the hands of a general contractor while she went on winter vacation. The contractor, whom she found on Kijiji, promised to do some repairs and look after the place. When Shaw returned, however, her home was a disaster zone.
“Not only was the house not renovated, it was turned into a drug house. The place was destroyed. After seeing the story on CTV, MX contacted the homeowner. Garry deployed our crews. We renovated, painted, replaced the flooring and repaired her furniture in one day. It was an amazing amount of work from the employees. Her gratitude, as displayed in the video was thanks enough. MX covered all materials and labour for the job. There is no better demonstration of what MX is about than this video,” says Lobchuk.
The video to which he refers is a clip from Winnipeg’s CTV station that can be seen on the MX website. It consists of news footage of the snowbird’s plight and MX’s speedy intervention. The news team pegged the total cost of the renovation at between $8,000 and $9,000 – an expense entirely borne out by MX.
MX has kept the same suppliers and vendors for years and is currently establishing a full list of preferred sub-trades and vendors. “Our goal is to keep them busy and in return have them see us as a preferred client. Consistency of work is one of the most important things in the industry. Switching up your trades or sub-trades during a job [can negatively impact] the quality and consistency of work,” says Lobchuk.
While MX leadership are confident in the company’s abilities and growth potential, they do not want to expand recklessly.
“The potential for MX is unlimited, but with that said, there is a sweet spot in the market, and I think we found it. We don’t know what the future holds, but we want to ensure we maintain the current culture and ensure we can service our clients to the levels they are accustomed to. With extreme growth, you generally lose something in the translation. Unless it is managed properly, something will have to be sacrificed to maintain that growth. There are no plans right now to move into the U.S. market,” says Lobchuk.
Asked if he ever envisions MX going national, McBurney laughs. “Actually, I never envisioned it to be at where we are today!”
He adds that when the company first launched, “I was the only guy. When I started, there was just me. I hired one guy, then I hired another guy. It grew from there to where it’s at today … my dream [at the launch] was to make sure I had a paycheque.”
Now that the MX Group is up and thriving, the company leadership has a very simple message they want to pass on to the public: “Give us one chance. That’s all we ask,” says Lobchuk.