SPEC-tacular Building Solutions
SPEC Construction is a highly reputable, full-service general contractor in Southwestern Ontario that also supplies clients with real estate expertise. The company’s design and construction abilities can bring any clients’ vision to reality. It serves clients from the healthcare, retail, office, retail, commercial and industrial sectors.
SPEC Construction was established in March 2007 by acting Senior Vice-President Terry Carter. As a property developer and building owner, Carter had worked with a number of construction companies which led him to determine that it would be more advantageous to invest in his own construction company. Thus, SPEC Construction was born.
“He saw a need for a more ethical type of contractor in the market, Michael Rouse, acting CEO and president of SPEC Construction recounted. “And so he felt that it would be best for him to start his own company, and that was after he used a contractor to build a medical center for him. So, he evolved through some partnerships – partnerships which have changed as of late.”
Initially, it was Carter and three other principal owners at the helm. Over the past several years, SPEC Construction has undergone significant changes and a rebranding, with Carter remaining the only original owner. Since 2011, he has been joined by Rouse who brought with him wide-ranging real estate knowledge as the owner of Rouse Realty Advisors.
“I run Rouse Realty Advisors, which also assists our clients,” said Rouse. “It’s that real estate background – it’s that institutional advisorship – that my real estate capabilities have assisted with a lot of our clients when they are looking at investing in probably one of the largest investments that they will make in their lifetime.”
“Through his vision, direction and guidance, SPEC began a massive overhaul which involved a complete rebrand – new faces, new logo, new website, et cetera – and an entirely new focus with a customer-first approach,” said Ryan Ostofe, the assistant vice president of business development.
The rebranding also included a $150,000 office renovation which has afforded employees new spaces to work, eat and socialize. The company has even added a pool table and new company-branded promotional items to define the corporate identity and create a sense of team unity.
“The reason we felt that rebranding was required is because we are going after institutional type projects,” explained Rouse. “ Institutional is the background that I have as a commercial real estate professional, and I used to be the senior vice-president of [commercial real estate firm] CBRE, and I saw a need for a strong construction company that has the capability of understanding the market. We understand the real estate, and that has to do with anyone building a building as an investment of their capital. And we want to make sure that the building or the property that we are developing or constructing for them is going to be well received in the real estate market, should they decide to sell in the future.” This serves as a real point of distinction for SPEC Construction.
“We are actively involved in conversations about the future, and are always looking to collaborate with up-and-coming technology-based companies who share similar visions of how buildings are designed and built,” said Ostofe.
“Whether it’s an LED company, geothermal company, engineering firm, or even companies who are building [artificial intelligence] equipment to control the infrastructure of a building, SPEC wants to be in the know what’s entering the marketplace and what effect regarding new product offerings it will have on the standard of building practices,” he added.
SPEC Construction’s design-build capabilities ensure a consistent point of contact throughout the construction process. “For non-assembly occupancy projects – which require an architectural firm – the design-build process allows clients to save a considerable amount of money while streamlining the entire process,” explained Ostofe.
“It’s all about the scope of work and it’s all about making sure the client has everything they need for when we do a design-build,” said Rouse. “We’re actually providing them with an all-in number, and we want to make sure that everything is covered, so that at the end of the day, it’s a positive experience. We want to live what our pricing is and make sure they’re getting what they paid for.”
Of chief importance to delivering outstanding results is the team of qualified professionals at SPEC Construction. Though it is a relatively small group, together they are able to produce remarkable results.
“We’re focussed on a team environment at SPEC, so everybody has their position within the team, but we support each other’s workloads, and we bring ideas to the table to help the client basically foresee what they are looking for,” Rouse said. “Trying to see ahead to make sure the client is getting what they want at the end of the day. The team at SPEC works cohesively to support each other.”
To supplement its in-house talent, SPEC Construction relies heavily on a pool of vetted sub-contractors that help deliver results of the highest standard. “As a design-builder, if not for our extremely talented in-house architectural design team, our value in the marketplace would be minimal at best. Notwithstanding, the design is only the beginning of what separates SPEC,” states Ostofe.
“The team that’s been assembled to see a design through to completion is really what sets us apart, he says. “General manager, project managers, coordinators, estimators, site supervisors, labourers and professional sub-trades keep SPEC on schedule and on budget.” SPEC Construction is always looking to identify new and dynamic sub-trades upon which it can rely.
In recognition of the role sub-trades play in its overall success, SPEC Construction evaluates the annual performance of sub-contractors and awards the top three performers with an award. Each sub-contractor is measured in three areas: dedication to job site safety, overall customer satisfaction and integrity and their commitment to time management.
The award program is well received by its partner sub-contractors and clients alike. “Not only are we getting good feedback from our sub-trades, even our clients appreciate the fact that we do see that the sub-trades are an integral part of SPEC Construction, and we want to make sure that we are always striving for excellence,” Rouse said.
Ostofe agreed. “We rely on them, and they rely on us. At the end of the day, there’s got to be a collaborative atmosphere and there’s got to be a relationship that revolves around understanding and appreciating what each other does for one another, and we’re really creating an environment that is about collaboration. And we pay our sub-trades – which is extremely important.”
The company’s portfolio showcases its exceptional proficiency. One great example is the Kingsett Capital Inc. project. The project took place over a two- to three-year period and involved multiple tenders, as well as a total renovation of an existing facility and the construction of a new, state-of-the-art space.
This 305,000-square-foot project in Cambridge saw SPEC demolish an existing building and overhaul the site to house a 280,000-square-foot warehouse space – which exceeded indoor environmental quality standards – and 25,000 square feet of multi-level, multi-tenant office space, complete with elevator and all other client-specified systems.
Its design-build performance on the Flo-Chem Ltd. project resulted in a 32,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution center, of which 6,000 square feet has been dedicated to multi-level office spaces.
During construction, Flo-Chem remained in operation while SPEC went to work on the same site. SPEC even coordinated the equipment relocation to the new site and the demolition of the old building. Flo-Chem was pleased with the final results, especially the detail dedicated to the custom-designed elements of the facility.
Though the company primarily serves Southwestern Ontario, jobs regularly take it into the Greater Toronto Area and across the southern region of the province. SPEC Construction is currently working on a 20,000-square-foot gymnastics center in St. Catharines where it has recently completed work on the newest Sky Zone Trampoline Park facility.
SPEC Construction’s achievements have been driven by a company-wide entrepreneurial spirit and a dedicated commitment to quality. However, quality is more than just a commitment; it is a bona fide guarantee.
“Our short term goal is to be the go-to contractor for local manufacturing/institutional type developments in the area,” according to Rouse.
In the long term, SPEC Construction wants to expand its market presence and the value it can bring to its clients. “Long-term is to, again, continue to grow, build quality buildings, branching out into different sectors,” said Rouse.
Regardless of the one-year warranty that comes with SPEC Construction’s work, if there is any sort of deficiency, SPEC will ensure that within twenty-four to forty-eight hours, someone is on site and assisting the client. “We continue to provide a service to our clients to make sure that back what we build,” stated Rouse.