Lessons Learned Over 30 Years (Part 2)
This year, CTM celebrates 30 years in business. In Part 1 of our anniversary blog, we spoke to current team members to learn how things have changed over the years – from business models to technology to a greater focus on creating an exceptional customer experience. In Part 2, we look at other ways our industry has shifted and how CTM has kept pace.
Evolving to Meet Client Needs
When I joined CTM in 1997, I was a draftsman and errand boy! I can’t tell you how many hours I spent printing blueprints. I worked extensively developing drawing packages covering all aspects of our business: petroleum, mechanical, electrical, structural, civil, and deep services. It was a great hands-on experience that helped immensely as I moved into project management and an executive role.
As the company has grown, we’ve realized the value of industry-leading project management processes and software. We’ve really made it an area of differentiation.
In a given year, we may tackle hundreds of projects for dozens of independent and national brand clients. From one-off builds or renovations to multi-location upgrades and rebrands throughout a territory. It’s all incredibly detail-oriented. If you miss one thing in your design & engineering process, it can set back the client’s entire project schedule.
This led us to develop The CTM Project Management Process™. It keeps our entire team on track and ensures we rigorously apply best project management practices on every job. It has allowed us to become adept at delivering jobs more efficiently and effectively – and take on extremely complex projects, often condensed time frames.
Our comprehensive project management process has also helped us plan better and provide the most accurate predictions around timelines and budgets. It gives us a solid roadmap to guide the project from design to completion. And if an unexpected obstacle pops up, we have a strategy in place to resolve it.
Meeting Code – Exceeding Expectations
Addis Gebrehiwot, AAA, AIBC, OAA, MAA
Architect, Project Manager
The way we construct retail buildings and facilities has come a long way over the past 30 years. It is not just the building materials and methodologies that have changed. Building code, energy code, and municipal bylaws have evolved in many ways.
Building code has become more stringent around fire safety and accessibility, and municipal authorities have become stricter in enforcement.
There has been a meaningful shift to accommodate those with disabilities. Widening of public sidewalks and interior corridors, and provision of extra space to allow a wheelchair to turn 360° are some of the few examples of how the code has changed in this regard. The Province of Ontario has gone even further, now requiring an electronic emergency notification system for inaccessible washroom stalls that will activate in the event of an emergency.
As a design firm, it is our job to understand how to properly interpret and apply code in a practical and cost-effective manner that helps our clients achieve their vision.
For example, BC Building Code requires a two-hour fire separation between individual units. Recently, we made a case to allow a visually appealing open-concept design between two businesses in Kelowna – with shared washrooms between the businesses as a way of splitting costs. Our solution was to install a fire suppression system and build fire safety management procedures as an alternative to a more costly fire separation wall. CTM used an Ontario project as a case study, demonstrating “alternative solutions” that complied with the code – without compromising public safety.
It serves to illustrate how CTM clients benefit from the expert knowledge we’ve gained over three decades working across western Canada and Ontario.
Another change involved the introduction of The National Energy Code, established in 1997 (six years after CTM opened its doors). It has driven us to build more energy-efficient buildings. While it involves a greater upfront cost, in the long run, it saves client’s a significant amount of money by reducing the operational energy bills and carbon footprint of buildings. Application of the Energy Code varies from one province to another, and according to the size of the building.
The Value of a Great Team
It’s one thing for a company to say it has 30 years of industry experience. But the real question is how is that accumulated knowledge passed down to the next generation of employees? One of our greatest assets has been our ability to build and retain a strong and competent team over the years.
Most of our current team have been with us for 10 years on average. We work hard to train and nurture staff and encourage close collaboration between roles. Ultimately, that’s the key advantage we bring as an integrated, full-service engineering, design, and architecture firm.
It’s one of the most important lessons we’ve learned over the years, and one of the reasons clients feel so comfortable working with CTM.