Bonafide Carpentry Services Ltd.
Ralph Herlick founded Bonafide Carpentry Services Ltd. (BCS) in 1995 as a small contracting company. For the first several years, Ralph and his team focused on smaller projects, specifically carpentry and general maintenance work.
Ralph’s son, Jeff Herlick, has an actively growing role within the business. “I started off as an installer in 1997,” Jeff explains. “We have expanded the company and are now working on taking the business to the next level. We have gone from projects around the $10,000 range and now we are doing projects over $1 million. No job is too small for us. We are keeping our roots and growing larger.”
Jeff goes on to note that the BCS team performs strictly commercial work, and no residential. “We have done, and continue to do, a lot of work with the grocery industry in Manitoba, northwest Ontario and Saskatchewan,” he continues. “We are able to stand out from other contractors in that we are a local, family business. We offer more personal service and we are more familiar with our customers’ needs. When we are working with grocery store clients, we already know when they’ll want us there, how it’s laid out and what materials to use. If there’s a wall over there that needs painting, we already know what color we’ll need. Prior knowledge and experience are a big plus; our brains are almost full.”
A Strong Customer Base
Repeat clients make up almost all of the company’s business. “Now and then we get new customers and they become repeat clients,” Jeff laughs. “With our large corporate customers, we are prequalified. If they need work done, corporate will call us to come in and fix things up. Sobeys will give us a floor plan and we can do a complete store remodel with just that one drawing. We work with the Sobeys team to build and finish to its expectations.”
One of the company’s recent larger projects, totaling approximately $1.5 million, was a McDonald’s. “It used to look like a log cabin with a bell tower,” Jeff says. “We basically did an all new exterior and interior renovation. That was about two years ago and now it looks like a modern McDonald’s. We are doing a lot of general maintenance and repair for them now.”
That is not the only big-name client BCS has earned. “We have recently done three large department store remodels, mostly patch, paint and flooring,” Jeff continues. “We do a lot of work for Home Depot and recently remodeled the washrooms. They have an executive-style washroom with ceramic tile; it’s pretty high-end. We also did the first liquor mart in a grocery store in Winnipeg in fall 2012. We previously did a tenant fit-up for Safeway and then got the job with the liquor mart to do its space, as well.”
BCS performs almost everything in-house, as far as normal, day-to-day work goes. “We will do floor tiles, ceiling tiles, cabinets, everything,” Jeff explains. “We have a one-stop shop thing going where if we don’t have the capabilities, we have a large connection of specialty trades to help.”
Jeff is proud to note that the company acts as a project manager, coordinator and full general contractor. “At one point we had 21 subtrades under us on one site for the McDonald’s job,” he elaborates. “About six years ago, we started doing more general contractor work, which was new for us. Now we are playing with the way operations works. We had never had anybody in the office answering phones or keeping up with all the paper work before, now we have Sara and that has changed everything. We are now adding more staff to keep everything in-house.”
A Growing Footprint
BCS is in a steady pattern of growth, although Jeff notes his team has seen some challenges in a swiftly changing market. “We deal with competition,” he explains. Right now it’s more about going out to find additional customers to add to our client base. We just picked up a contract with Rexall Drugs a few months ago.”
However, BCS isn’t willing to rest on its laurels. “We are also doing some rebranding,” he continues. “It is important to get our name out, because we have never really advertised before. We do some charity work, which will continue, but that has really been the extent of our public relations. We are building a website, which is taking a little longer than we had hoped. We have some complex design features. We are going to have an online plan room where our partners and subtrades can download and access drawings. We have also redesigned our logo and have had many compliments and some new customers from it.”
With a growing customer base, BCS is expanding its capabilities and market reach. Jeff is working on bringing in more estimators and project managers, and the team is ready to build an addition to the office in order to maintain a larger staff. Jeff and his crew are taking on more than ever before and with the right preparations in swing, Bonafide Carpentry Services Ltd. will continue to grow within the regional market.