From skilled carpenters to rebar installers and cement finishers, formwork requires the expertise and coordination of many trades. In Ontario, Reimar Forming and Construction has earned a solid reputation for handling unique design challenges in custom-engineered formwork for award-winning projects across various sectors. The company’s success is rooted in its founders’ expertise and commitment to excellence. Driven by a shared vision and years of experience in the construction industry, Carlos Reis and Mike Martins founded Reimar in 2003. However, the foundation of the company goes back much further. Reis started working in construction in his native Portugal at just 14 years of age. His professional journey brought him to France, the southern United States, and Canada, where he eventually settled and made a name for himself. Martins’ career started in 1992 in Hamilton, where he trained as a carpenter apprentice under Reis. Martins began overseeing his first projects at the age of twenty-four – after completing his apprenticeship in just over three years. After years of working together, Reis and Martins decided to start Reimar Forming and Construction. “It was always a dream of mine to start a company by the time I was 30 years old,” says Martins. “It seemed like the stars aligned, and it actually did happen.”
Since its early years, the company has developed and grown significantly. On the way, Reimar has enjoyed a number of stand-out moments. For example, the company’s first large scale project, the construction of Cambridge City Hall, also marked the company’s first use of a tower crane instead of mobiles or telehandlers. Meanwhile, the building of a water treatment plant in Scarborough in 2007 marked another transformative moment for the company. This project was four times the size of anything the company had previously undertaken, and the job contributed to a period of significant growth and development. “That single project represented a doubling of our workforce,” says Reimar’s Director of Operations, Sean Martin. “Not only that, but from 2003 until 2010 our sales doubled every year.” In 2015, Reis retired, and although he remained involved in the company’s projects over the next two or three years, the company was in a transitional period. At present, Martins acts as Reimar General Manager, however, he is still very much involved in supervising site works. “I like to oversee how the projects are coming along and be embedded with my team,” he explains. “I’m not just working from an office. I monitor what’s happening on-site and interact with the owners and their staff.”
Operating in the industrial, commercial, institutional, and high-rise residential fields, Reimar has positioned itself as a leader in concrete formwork within the Western part of the Greater Toronto Area, specifically the Hamilton-Niagara region. Expertise, detailed needs analysis, rigorous planning, clever staff management, and strict project supervision contributed to building the company’s outstanding reputation. Reimar’s involvement goes far beyond direct responsibilities, offering expertise in areas such as materials ordering, rebar sequencing, and shop drawing review. This proactive approach adds value for customers and ensures a smoother workflow by addressing potential issues before materials arrive on-site. As Martins explains, for each one of its projects, Reimar sets up on-site offices with diverse departments, ensuring dedicated full-time personnel. “We provide full-fledged support staff, project managers, coordinators, layout guys, safety coordinators. We analyze our schedules and commit to meet and anticipate deadlines every time.” This is made possible through meticulous project analysis and the ability to identify potential issues long before they manifest on-site. “We know how the industry works. We anticipate potential issues with the supply chain and adverse weather conditions and don’t let them affect our completion date,” says Adam Dench, Director of Construction at Reimar. “We make sure we staff the jobs properly from the project management side and from the field side to avoid downtime and delays.”
“The company focuses on guiding existing employees in building their careers through hands-on involvement and mentorship from seasoned staff.”
In an industry built on reputation, honesty and a commitment to finding solutions are crucial to establishing solid, long-lasting relationships. Reimar thrives on making all aspects of the business smoother and more manageable for its clients and suppliers. Historically, the company’s owners have always been heavily involved in on-site activities, overseeing work and training employees on the field. “Their skill and experience served as a guiding example, laying the foundation for the company’s work ethic and standards,” says Sean. “The transition to a self-sustaining team reflects the enduring impact of this early commitment to hands-on leadership and dedication to quality.” Reimar currently employs over 200 people. The company focuses on guiding existing employees in building their careers through hands-on involvement and mentorship from seasoned staff. It believes practical, day-to-day experience is the fastest way to learn and progress. “We have a well-established field crew. Some of them have been with us for twenty years,” says Martins. “The most valuable training occurs on the job,” continues Sean. “What we look for in candidates is the aptitudes that will lead them to be successful, the work ethic, interpersonal and communication skills. We’re really more focused on growing the team from within than cherry-picking people with skill sets from outside.”
Over time, Reimar has streamlined its processes and found efficient ways to enhance its productivity. Ongoing production analysis, planning, and proactive problem-solving enable the company to consistently deliver on time. The early delivery of the McMaster University graduate student residence is an example of the efficiency of this strategy. Despite challenges such as COVID-related shutdowns, outbreaks, and union strikes causing substantial labor disruption, Reimar completed the project two months ahead of schedule, exceeding the client’s expectations. Remarkably, the company built each floor in just three days, a significant achievement in the industry. The housing project at 870 Queenston is another outstanding example of Reimar’s commitment to efficiency. The job involved the construction of a full cast-in-place parking garage, a 14-story tower with concrete walls and pre-cast slabs and was completed five months earlier than expected. “With only one crane available and two different crews who needed to use it simultaneously, the project and site teams did fantastic work in finding efficiencies,” says Dench. “We started very early in the morning and utilized the crane for a couple of hours. Then, we turned over the crane to the precast company and took over again once they had finished for the day.” The team took advantage of coffee and lunch breaks, seizing every opportunity to use the crane and progress their work. This flexible, strategic approach allowed them to maximize crane usage and complete the project well before the set deadline.
Committed to its unique approach to winning client satisfaction and repeat work, Reimar envisions a future growth trajectory. With plans to grow its staff to 500 employees over the next six months, optimize operations, and maximize profit, the company is also committed to strengthening its position as a pillar in the community. Reimar actively engages with various associations, including the Hamilton-Halton Construction Association and the West End Home Builders Association. In addition to sponsoring charitable events and youth athletics, it supports causes such as the donation of concrete trade related work. Reimar also contributes to education initiatives, focusing on promoting skilled trades and providing young individuals with firsthand construction industry experiences through co-ops, demo days, and job fairs. “We really strive to be an employer that’s investing back into the community and into the pockets of hardworking individuals and rewarding them for their achievements,” says Sean. “We’ve never lost sight of the fact that the workers are the company. Making them feel like family as they’re training new workers will lead to our sustainability and grow the Reimar family.”
Photos by Pauly Productions