Located by the shores of Lake Ramsey in Sudbury, Northern Ontario, which is home to the largest freshwater lake in the world contained within one city, is Build North Construction Inc. As the largest mass land in Ontario, Greater Sudbury is a thriving and vibrant city. With over 10,000 projects under its belt and plans in place for numerous future projects, Build North has been dedicated to developing, and improving on, the amenities in the local region brick by brick over the past three decades.
With this rich and successful history, it is unsurprising that the company has its sights set on continued growth. However, the company began modestly. 38 years ago, carpenter Anthony Nutt borrowed enough money from his father-in-law to buy a van. With a singular vision and an impressive level of dedication to go with it, Nutt initially performed all aspects of the business himself. This perseverance clearly paid off. Today, Build North has developed into a successful General Contracting and Construction Management business, achieving huge success in an ever-changing industry, with Nutt remaining at the helm as CEO.
Since these beginnings, Build North has remained focused on providing a service based on excellence and skill to its clients. However, another vital aspect of the company vision is that it is a valued member of its local community. To this end, alongside developing and building new structures, Build North is taking time to nurture young local builders. This priority, it believes, gives members of the local community the platform to pave a career for themselves in the construction industry. With 25 employees totaling a combined 150 years of experience, it is no surprise that a sizeable number of the projects undertaken are rooted in the local community. According to Build North’s Financial Controller Arielle Mupfasoni, this is very much part of the company’s plan. “We are very much involved in the community; we are dedicated to projects that benefit our community by providing employment for local trades and service people, as well as acquiring our material and tools from local suppliers.”
The idea of a company that is rooted in the local community is one that many businesses across the country aspire to. However, the proof can invariably be seen in the work being done and the projects being completed. At Build North, the evidence is clear. In recent years it has developed a lasting and successful relationship with the hospital in Sudbury, Ontario. By demonstrating an ability to meet its clients demands, it has worked on three significant projects for the local hospital, such as the building of the HSN Research Institute on Walford Road that was completed in 2018, the addition of a HSN PET Scanner in Sudbury, and the new HSN Learners Center. Excitingly, the latter project will facilitate 2000 future doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers every year.
In addition to this ongoing partnership, Build North has also worked closely with other pillars of its community. In 2015, the company renovated the Greater Sudbury Airport and has overseen the construction of several schools in and around the city, most notably the new joint Catholic, Holy Cross and New East schools that was completed in 2012. These community links can also be seen in its ongoing membership of local associations the Ontario General Contractors Association and Northeastern Ontario Construction Association.
The shift towards energy efficient construction has been an important development in the building industry in recent years. In fact, the Canadian government is committed to investing $182 million to increase energy efficiency and address climate change by improving how homes and buildings are designed, renovated, and constructed. Unsurprisingly for a company that is so community-minded, Build North is a committed advocate of these plans and has implemented its own design and build format. Under this format the company assumes responsibility for costing, design, and the entire completion of a project through design-build client/contractor partnership. By operating in such a seamless manner, Build North believes that it can eliminate unnecessary waste and provide additional environmental and cost savings to its clients. This approach also works in sync with its construction management service which offers the client a preliminary planning stage and design stage service, including development of a detailed Work Safe Program, to ensure that the work site is organized, coordinated and safe at all times throughout the construction stage.
“The future looks bright for Sudbury’s own Build North.”
Despite these positive endeavors and the company’s continued success, Mupfasoni acknowledges that the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is still having an effect on the progress of business, highlighting supply chain issues and skilled labor shortages as problems the company has had to overcome. “2022 has been quiet. We have had issues with our supply chain. Also, sourcing and holding onto qualified and skilled carpenters has proven difficult.” Despite this, she explains that it is the success of ongoing partnerships that have seen Build North navigate the challenging industry turbulence. “We have managed to overcome these issues by using the local suppliers we have dealt with for decades and also by offering apprenticeships.”
Build North has shown a tremendous amount of resolve and determination in difficult times. Despite obstacles and the difficulty in sourcing quality tradesmen, the company was an industry outlier by managing to retain the entirety of its staff throughout the pandemic. When most corners of the world, including Northern Ontario, were under stringent lockdowns, all its employees continued to work.
So, what does the future hold for Build North? Given the aforementioned obstacles and issues facing companies of this size in the post pandemic world, it is no surprise that the company believes that pragmatism is a key component in achieving future success and securing contracts for future projects. “There are several other projects that we will consider for later this year. Being successful also means that we must be pragmatic in our bid practices, however we are currently preparing tender packages for a local rehabilitation center, a local bank, and a local welding company.”
With a number of projects in the pipeline for Build North, the future seems secure. However, one project in particular is causing great excitement within the company. The Yes Theatre project is arguably the most interesting of Build North’s current ventures. Described as “a cultural cornerstone” in the local community, the theatre managers wanted to enlist a local firm to extend their premises. Unsurprisingly, Build North was the ideal fit.
The building of an outdoor theatre is something of a boon for the company. The project allows Build North to demonstrate its ability in delivering detail, skill, and results to an exacting standard. “The Refettorio, an open-air space, was commissioned. What is most interesting about this project is that the stage is a platform in the center of the rectangular building. It is elevated only slightly higher than the seating area that forms around sides of the stage. Unlike traditional theaters, there are no curtains, and the performers are only a couple of feet away from the audience.” Despite the widespread delays the construction industry experienced from COVID-19 restrictions, the project is very much under way and is expected to be open for its first show in June of this year.
Proud of its roots and very much ingrained in its local community, the future looks bright for Sudbury’s own Build North. After navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that went with it relatively unblemished, some exciting projects are on the horizon. “Quality, Integrity and Customer Satisfaction” were the words used to describe the ethos of the company when I posed the question to Mupfasoni. Having been a valued member of the local community for over three decades, it is evident that this ethos has been an integral part of its ongoing success and will be for many years to come.