Laying the Groundwork for Growth in Commercial Flooring
Bousada is a commercial flooring company based in Quebec’s Eastern Township providing flooring services to customers primarily in the Business to Business market. With more than 60 years of experience, the company has developed a broad expertise covering the full range of materials including ceramic tiling, carpeting, and wood and vinyl flooring. The company serves entrepreneurs, contractors, architects and designers in a wide variety of sectors including hospitals, schools, parliament, condos, shopping malls, retirement homes, and more.
When the business first opened its doors in 1953, it was a furniture retailer. Over the years, the company has grown and changed in many ways, but it remains family owned and operated to this day. “In 1953, my grandfather started a business called Maison Bousada. It was a furniture store, and my father took it over in the 1970s. I got involved in 1996 but concentrated more on the flooring side of things, not on the furniture side, and was only focused on residential back then,” says Reed Bousada, President of the company.
After redirecting the business toward flooring services, Reed decided to shift the focus to the commercial and institutional markets in 2002. While commercial projects can be much larger and more complex, they are different to manage than residential projects, in part due to the sensitive nature of working on a person’s home; that kind of work comes with a set of challenges that are not typically present in the commercial sector. Focusing on projects at this larger scale proved to be a successful shift and it enabled the company to grow consistently over the next few years.
Just as Bousada was hitting its stride, 2008 arrived and Canada’s economy fell into a downturn that many businesses would fail to survive. The company’s leadership was determined to not only outlast the recession, but to prepare for the upturn they knew would come next.
They devised a strategy to restructure the company to ensure it would be best positioned to capitalize on opportunities when the economy began to recover. By 2010, Bousada was growing again, and since that time it has expanded the business from its one location in Quebec’s Eastern Townships into the larger cities of Ottawa, Toronto, and Quebec City. In addition to expanding its geographical footprint, the company also expanded its capacity by acquiring a cement division. Since then, the business has grown tenfold.
Today the company employs approximately 75 administrative personnel in office positions, and between 250 and 400 labourers on job sites throughout their operating territory, depending on the time of year. While a portion of these labourers are subcontracted to balance out the business’s high season and low season, they are all considered a part of the Bousada family. The company’s leadership recognizes the value of keeping its workers happy.
Every year, the entire staff is invited to a weekend away together where the entire company participates in team building activities. At the offsite retreat, the employees discuss the vision of the company and ways to improve the workplace culture. The employees are very appreciative of the annual event and it always brings everyone closer as a group. Bousada is a family company and it is building a culture that fosters family values. By bringing employees together, the company aims to encourage teamwork and a sense of pride among employees in the work they do.
These efforts to raise employee satisfaction have done wonders for the company as well. Its people make an enormous impact on the business’s reputation, and Bousada has become known for its high-quality team of experts. It has outgrown many of its competitors and gained much of the market share in Quebec and Ontario over the course of its existence.
Reed explains that there is no mystery in the company’s ability to create a positive work atmosphere; it all comes from teamwork, respect, and transparency. “There is no secret sauce to it – it was just getting everybody to work together, communicating as much information, even on the financial end, as much as I could to the employees and really treating them with the same respect I wanted them to show me.”
The ultimate goal is to create an exceptional experience for the customer across the entire project process – from sales, to administration, to operations, to customer service and support. The company is able to add value at every step in the process; this means not only delivering on the brief, but troubleshooting, advising the client on how to avoid pitfalls before they occur, mitigating risk, and being highly accessible.
This approach is known as the Bousada Spec, which, as Reed describes, hinges on ensuring that, “we pick the right materials to go into the right areas in the right budget for every one of our projects. This way, it’s seamless with the client and the contractor. We meet their budget and make sure that we have the right product to go into the right place.”
Bousada has built a reputation for quality that has enabled it to work on a number of major flooring projects in Quebec and Ontario. The company provided services on the two super hospital projects in Quebec, CHUM and CUSM, and recently finished the flooring for the West Block on Parliament Hill. There are not many commercial flooring companies that cover both Quebec and Ontario, but Bousada’s team is fully bilingual and capable of working in both provinces.
While the company has received a number of industry awards for Best Employer and Fastest Growing Company in construction, it does not prioritize the search for recognition. Filling out the paperwork and the application process is time consuming and it takes away from the central focus of the company, which is to become the leading flooring company in the world.
To make steps toward this goal, the company leaders have concentrated their efforts on hiring the right people for the right positions, and on building strong, long-lasting relationships with their clients. They strive to continuously fine-tune the company procedures toward an ever more efficient operation, learning from their own experience as well as client feedback.
In the commercial flooring business, there are many moving parts and it can be challenging to deal with unexpected delays and frustrated clients. Considering the fact that flooring is generally one of the last steps of a project, there is a good chance it is part of the critical path for completion, and any delays at this stage of a project can be very costly for clients. Floors are something that people look at every single day, and Bousada is able to take the weight of its clients’ shoulders and assure them of both a smooth process and a fantastic result.
The company is proud to be known as a steady and reliable partner for its clients. Employees are encouraged to stay motivated when the schedule is tight, and to join the client in their eagerness to complete the work. Everyone takes pride in what they do, and by keeping a positive attitude, the team is consistently able to push through and deliver an end product that satisfies the client.
“We try to stay positive and keep shining, just try to brighten that man or woman’s day up a little bit and keep going,” says Reed. Bousada has learned that working in the high pressure atmosphere of a project’s final stages requires quite a bit of patience and tolerance.
The optimistic attitude at Bousada gives the company a young, exciting edge that is refreshing in an industry filled with traditional companies and retiring employees. Some of the competition appears to be burnt out or losing steam, but Bousada continues to have enthusiasm about new projects and sharpening its skills as it gains more experience in the field.
After more than 60 years working in the flooring trade, Bousada continues to grow. “We’re looking at the possibility of expanding just south of the border. Nothing is for sure, nothing is set in place yet, but I think our next move will probably be that,” says Reed.