Custom Cupola & Steeple Co. Ltd.
Brian Rand founded Custom Cupola & Steeple Co. Ltd. (CCS) in 1989. Coming from a family of successful entrepreneurs, Brian understands that hard work and commitment are the foundations for any business. After a successful 20-year career as a site supervisor and project manager in the ICI construction industry, Brian decided to focus solely on his niche markets.
In 1978 he began building cupolas, amongst many other things, and founded Waterloo Cupola, Column and Woodworking. In 1989 he developed Custom Cupola Mfg. Co. in Oakville, Ontario, constructing residential and commercial cupolas. With hard work and determination, as well as the help of his wife, Lee, and dedicated employees, Brian has built CCS to what it is today.
When he brought his creations to the National Home Show in 1992, his small business gained rapid exposure. Soon thereafter business began to pick up quickly and the team began to grow. Today, Brian employs many people, hiring additional help when the team is busy. While cupolas are still a mainstay of the operation, the company has diversified into unique trades. From a single location in Oakville, Ontario, CCS sells and installs cupolas, domes, dormers, towers and all manners of high end roofing solutions, such as slate, copper, zinc, cedar and composites to name a few.
A diverse practice steeped in tradition
CCS designs and manufactures all shapes and sizes of residential, commercial and barn cupolas. The company’s portfolio includes belvederes, clock towers and minaret towers. The team has designed and fabricated custom steeples and domes found in places of worship, institutional buildings, as well as private residences. CCS has engineered structures for new construction, as well as design and re-production of historical architectural artifacts. The highly professional craftsmen are experienced in using a wide variety of metals and materials.
The business culminates in a harmonization of art, wood working, welding, sheet metal and coppersmithing fabrication and general construction, as well as specialty roofing. “Success for us is a direct result of having an open mind, truly enjoying the work we do, and taking pride in the quality of our work,” says Brian. “We self-train our employees with older, more experienced tradespeople training the younger ones. Much of what we do are dying trades. Our business is a teaching centre. A real slater, for example, takes a five-year apprenticeship plus five years of working experience to become a master slater.”
Amateur work has become a major problem in the industry. According to Brian, building owners often think they have found a deal with an inexperienced or improperly educated specialty roofer. Often immediately, or a short time after, the roof will fail and the disappointed customer will have to spend large amounts of money to call in true professionals.
Part of the problem is the economy. Building owners have been less willing to free up money to invest in a quality project from the get-go. The use of untrained labor, however, tends to cause extremely expensive problems down the line with leaking roofs and improperly laid materials. Pre-mature failure of the completed roofs and products causes excessive time and money to achieve only a repaired product, which according to Brian, will not last as intended. Usually to undo an improper roof means to remove all and start again.
Doing it right the first time
CCS has built a strong reputation in the market. The business caters to industrial, commercial and institutional clients, many of which are places of worship and heritage buildings. CCS is also firmly planted in the historical restoration business. The team’s experience and capabilities have updated some of the most unique structures in Ontario, as well as across the continent. While most of the company’s business is centered on the greater Toronto area, CCS builds and ships custom structures such a cupolas, domes and towers, across Canada and into the United States. To ensure proper installation and a durable and beautiful final product, the business sends its skilled tradespeople along to complete the installations when required.
Currently, Brian says his team is in the middle of constructing an 85-foot minaret tower for a mosque in the GTA. CCS is also involved in construction of many mosque prayer hall domes. Other work includes courthouses, city halls, post offices, churches and other classically styled structures. Zinc, copper, slate, cedar etc. roofing and sheet metal are all included in the niche markets of CCS.
One of the most memorable projects for Brian has been for a Horse Farm in Wisconsin. The company designed and constructed massive cupolas to adorn the farm’s equestrian centre. “We designed and constructed them here at our manufacturing facility and shipped them to Wisconsin,” Brian elaborates. “They weighed a couple of tons each for 10 cupolas. Also many smaller cupolas were constructed for other out-buildings. This project was huge revenue wise for a single equestrian centre. We sent down a supervisor from here to offload the structures properly, rig them and install them. We use our own manpower on most of our projects.”
CCS has been involved with some very large projects. While the nature of the company’s work is complex, Brian says very little is too much for his team to handle. Ranging from a million-dollar copper roof on Table Rock Tourist Centre in Niagara Falls to the large domes, including one on the Hilton Hotel across from Fallsview Casino and the intricate copper barrel roofing at Cham Shan Temple, also in Niagara Falls, the company has proven itself capable. “The more intricate and unique the project is, the more CCS is interested, and in this market, we excel beyond what most in the industry can properly undertake,” Brian says proudly. Custom Cupola & Steeple Co. Ltd. has a portfolio that speaks for itself, highlighting quality craftsmanship and a deep sense of pride in workmanship.