Casman Building Ltd.
For over 20 years, Casman Building Ltd. (Casman Building) has been serving the Fort McMurray, Edmonton and Calgary regions of Alberta. In recent years, the area has been a hotbed for economic activity. Therefore, Casman Building, a division of the Casman Group of Companies (Casman), has stepped up as one of the region’s go-to experts for commercial and residential construction.
And there’s no one who understands the region better than Jeff Sandeman, general manager of Casman Building. While the other Casman subsidiary companies are anchored by non-native general managers, Jeff is proud to say he was born and raised in Alberta. “I’ve lived in this area my whole life,” he shares. Jeff began working as a laborer for Casman in 1988, when he was 18 years old.
“I thought I was pretty cool with my jackhammer, muscle shirt and flat top,” jokes Jeff. “Now I have all of this work to look after.” Jeff’s responsibilities have expanded alongside the growth of the region’s oil industry.
Big Industry and Big Opportunity
Today, Casman Building mainly serves the rural municipality of Wood Buffalo within Fort McMurray. “We’re 250 miles away from the nearest city, but the housing and commercial building market has grown exponentially with the rapidly expanding oil boom,” Jeff says. “We have forestry and gateway tourism up here, as well, but the majority of growth is in the oil sands market.”
The nonunion commercial and light industrial company operates as a general contractor and construction manager. “On the residential side, we’re heavily involved in multifamily complexes and tenant fit-outs,” explains Jeff. “On the commercial side, we do commercial warehousing and municipal work.”
The company focuses on professional construction of the highest quality through well-trained, experienced production and construction personnel. “We have about 80 nonunion employees,” shares Jeff. “We utilize computerized management systems for estimating and scheduling for better cost control from start to finish.”
Raising the Residential Roof
Jeff says Casman Building’s multifamily business has grown with the inflated cost of living in Fort McMurray. “A 1,400-square-foot home easily costs upward of $700,000 here; you’ll pay $500,000 for a mobile home and $2,500 for a small apartment; so affordable housing is a huge market,” he explains. “People simply can’t afford to live here unless they have a good job.”
Casman Building will complete approximately 300 multifamily units in support of the housing need throughout 2013. “We broke ground on the 175-unit Siltstone townhouse and apartment complex in spring 2013 for the Wood Buffalo Housing and Development organization,” shares Jeff.
One of Casman Building’s largest recent projects is in conjunction with Second Stage Housing. “We began working closely with Second Stage Housing in 2010 to help them acquire a significant amount of government funding through grant research and applications,” adds Jeff. “Once we helped the organization secure the $19 million needed for the 75-unit, multifamily Fort McMurray Family Crisis Centre, we fulfilled our role as construction manager.”
Aside from the multifamily market, Casman Building is also the trusted general contractor for the well-known local Cherry Wood Homes brand. “We do anywhere from 40 to 100 single-family homes a year,” reveals Jeff.
As a traditional construction management and general contracting firm, Jeff admits that Casman Building subcontracts nearly all trades. “We use our related Casman sister companies wherever possible, particularly the Casman MEP Group when we need electrical and mechanical work,” says Jeff. “Keeping services in-house saves our clients’ money.”
Although the oil boom has brought big industry and big opportunity for Casman Building, Jeff says it’s more than meets the eye. “The better the economy gets, the more labor challenges we face,” he notes. “Lots of companies want to sell to Fort McMurray, but they don’t want to send their workers here, because they worry they’ll find more lucrative employment in this region. But, as far as this town goes, our employee retention is above average.”
However, Casman Building is different, according to Jeff. “Our people stick around because we offer great educational opportunities,” he adds proudly. “We believe in continuing education and our people appreciate that.”
Jeff sees a bright future for Casman Building, as well as the Casman family of companies, supporting the influx of oil producers. As an Alberta native, Jeff has a feel for the pulse of the region and the kind of trusted service for which Casman Building Ltd. has become well-recognized.