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Haab Homes Construction Ltd.: Quality Homes Built to Last a Lifetime
Steven Haab founded Haab Homes Construction Ltd. (HHC) in 2003 as a mid-sized, privately owned homebuilder to serve customers around Fort St. John, British Columbia. “I apprenticed with a long-term builder and worked for five years before striking out on my own,” says Steven, who has been in the industry for more than 18 years. “I was doing renovation work for the first two years when I branched out on my own before someone trusted us with a custom home and have been doing custom housing ever since.”
Steven founded HHC with his wife as a sole proprietor in 2001 and incorporated in 2003. Today HHC’s team of 35 professionals includes a variety of skilled tradespeople to ensure each client’s needs are met. “We have carpenters, insulators, electricians and plumbers on staff, as well as mechanics, because we break a lot of things,” he laughs.
While HHC is primarily a residential contractor, the team also performs some commercial work in the area. Regardless of the market sector, Steven and his team work closely with clients to provide a customized building, suiting the personal needs of homeowners and the functional needs of businesses.
“Dealing with individuals is a challenge,” Steven explains. “It is not like reproducing spec houses. Everyone is different and sometimes you find issues by accident. Our ability to deal with those issues sets us apart from a lot of companies in this business. We are not fool-proof, but we try our best to make our clients happy. The end-product is done well and stands for itself.”
According to Steven, residential construction makes up approximately 90 percent of HHC’s business with a handful of commercial projects thrown in the mix. “Our region is a residential hot spot right now,” Steven explains. “We came into this at a great time. The last 10 years have gone really well for us with an abundance of work. We don’t see it slowing down anytime soon.” The HHC crew is involved in multiple projects at one time, working mostly with residential clients with budgets ranging between $350,000 and $1 million.
“We work with designers when need be,” Steven continues. “They help us to cut and paste ideal designs and we cut them loose with our customers. We implement systems and checklists to make sure everything is ready on time. We can also recommend an interior designer if need be.”
Employing a similar approach, HHC is taking over a small, but growing piece of the commercial market. “Last year we had the opportunity to build a large commercial shop, which was a great learning curb,” he says. “We like to dabble more into the commercial shops, office renovations and fire code upgrades. Our place in the specialty housing market ensures that we have more control over some of the major variables. Having access to your own subtrades and having the ability to pre-buy materials in bulk quantities allows us to keep our costs down and facilitate our projects to meet deadlines.”
The team’s continued success is due largely in part to the region’s booming oil and gas industry. While operations draw in people and businesses in need of additional housing and commercial space, building a strong team of employees can be competitive. According to Steven, the oil and gas business pays well and many younger workers are taking advantage of opportunities in the industry.
“The apprenticeship program is really growing with us,” Steven explains. “Our guys apprentice here and then come on to work with us as journeymen. They get their own crew and that allows us to grow. Right now we have six crews, and as apprentices gain their journeymen status, it allows us to expand as a company.”
Diversifying the company has stimulated growth within HHC and is the main key to its continuous development within the construction industry. Steven’s team is also implementing an extensive safety program, which has resulted in safety awareness and communication between employees. HHC is thriving toward an exceptional safety record and is well on its way to achieving such.
“We are in the process of developing a larger edition on an existing shop to accommodate prefabrication during the winter months,” Steven adds. Between a broad range of internal capabilities and solid relationships with suppliers and contractors alike, the team is well-positioned to maintain steady growth.
On top of it all, Steven is involved in a local business forum group compiled of different business owners in varying industries, which allowed him to build a strong network while learning from his peers who have different perspectives on aspects of running a business. “Everyone in our network takes a lot of pride in what they do,” Steven explains. “Having a progressive team environment, all focused on completing a quality product, has made for a positive work environment.”
Steven goes on to explain that the company is currently in somewhat of a holding pattern. “We are maintaining and expanding our infrastructure to accommodate our growth,” he details. “For seven months out of the year we are fighting weather. Some years we luck out, but our growing ability to prefabricate things helps us boost efficiency when the weather is nice and we can build.” Steven continues to plan ahead, a leadership quality that is keeping Haab Homes Construction Ltd. in a stable market position.