By Francie Healy
What can you say when you keep winning the biggest awards there are to win?
This is the situation in which Amsted Design-Build, Ottawa Renovator of the Year for the sixth time, finds itself.
But wait – there’s more. Amsted is the best renovator in all of Ontario, too. Last fall it was awarded the Ontario Renovator of the Year.
And if that weren’t enough, earlier this year Amsted also received an award from the West Ottawa Board of Trade for Medium Business of the Year.
Amsted’s owner, Steve Barkhouse, admits it’s hard to say anything about the awards and still sound humble. He might be the one who goes up to the podium in the midst of applause from the crowd and actually receives the awards. But he’s adamant that these awards go to the whole company, the whole team, and that’s what makes him proud.
It also makes him realize that this status carries with it a large responsibility. Amsted is a leader, and that means it has to stay at the top of its game – and more than that, to show the way.
So, for instance, when the company celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, it took on 25 volunteer community projects. (Actually, it ended up being 30, but Steve says this is typical, because one of Amsted’s core values is to exceed expectations.) The projects kept them busy at a rate of about three a month during 2015. They included construction help for Camp Smitty, sponsoring a breakfast for a Boys and Girls Club, building a garden shed for a children’s community garden; installation of bat houses to keep away mosquitoes in Kanata; flower-planting at a park; teaching children to build catapults; refurbishing a schoolyard; and a whole list of others.
Amsted Design-Build does a full range of projects. Along with its large-scale renovation and construction projects, it has a full upgrades and repairs department, so people can call up and ask for small things – to add a door, for instance, or replace trim. Steve says it is the only company in Ottawa that includes a full five-year warranty (at no extra cost).
“We always say we want clients for life, and we’ve got them,” he says. “It all comes down to providing the best, on time and on budget. We want to make every client crazyhappy, and every year we get better.”
He likes to think of the Amsted awards as a kind of beacon, illuminating a leadership role to share with others.
He says Amsted proves that a small company from Stittsville can grow to become recognized on a provincial level; that it can be seen outside of the industry as a Business of the Year; that it can make a difference in the community and give back at a high level. He hopes it inspires others to do the same thing.
“It’s like walking through deep snow,” he says. “If everyone walks in different directions, it’s tough sleddin’. But if someone’s breaking trail, that means everyone can follow in their wake.
“It not only makes our community better,” he adds. “It makes our industry stronger.”