Riverbend Building Supply Ltd.
Prefabricated building components allow contractors to erect structures cheaper while relying on far less labor than traditional construction. The process is also often quicker, making prefabricated components particularly well suited to Canada’s short construction season. Since 2006, Riverbend Building Supply Ltd. has been designing and manufacturing Ready to Move (RTM) homes, prefabricated building packages and building materials to customers throughout the greater Winnipeg area.
Founded by the father-son team of Michael and Tim Maendel, Riverbend completes projects in both the commercial and residential sectors from its headquarters in Carberry, Manitoba. While the company has only been around for seven years, Riverbend has carved out a niche for itself in that relatively short time with leading design expertise and a specialty in prefabricated walls and wall systems.
“Most of our customers come to us; we don’t even have a salesman on the road, but we’re still putting out one to two truckloads of prefabricated walls per day,” says Michael Maendel, general manager and founder of Riverbend.
While some contractors still prefer traditional stick-framed construction methods, prefabricated building materials have made a splash on the building market in recent years owing to their ease and speed of installation. “You have to tell those contractors that it’s all about the speed and they can get away with using less manpower. As soon as they start to realize that, it’s good,” says Maendel.
Superior service through experience
Riverbend’s custom, prefabricated walls are produced in-house by a design team led by the younger Maendel, who will often following the products all the way to the jobsite, troubleshooting and ensuring that every wall system is installed to precise specifications. “Being so fully involved really sets us apart,” says Maendel.
“My son is my designer, but he’s also out in the field putting up walls, so if there’s any issue we can take care of it right away,” he says. “If you have problems you don’t have to talk to a salesman, you can talk to the guy who actually drew up the system and he can be the one to help you.”
Projects often seem simpler when rendered on a computer, but will present myriad challenges to a building team once they arrive on-site. By designing its own systems and honing that practical knowledge in the field, Riverbend is able to put itself in the customer’s shoes, offering a superior level of customer service while guaranteeing a job is completed on time and on budget.
“It might look OK on a computer, but when you actually put up the walls, it changes.” Maendel says. “We have hands-on experience and often know exactly what problems the contractors are talking about.”
The Maendel’s entered the modular building supply industry at an interesting time. A decade ago, designing and producing wall panels was a time-intensive undertaking that hardly seemed worth the investment, but that all started to change as new automation techniques were integrated into the process.
Using light bars, CAD and stop gauge and material positioning systems like TigerStop, Riverbend can guarantee accuracy on all of its products to within 1/16th of an inch. “Automation has made it a lot simpler with new technology coming out like software and machinery; now our whole process is computerized,” Maendel says.
Early success in a growing market
Riverbend has seen success providing prefabricated building solutions to Winnipeg’s duplex and townhouse market, with the booming industry has kept the company growing in its first decade in business.
A relationship with Winnipeg-based A&S Homes has seen a lot of work come Riverbend’s way in the last five years as the developer relies on the company for a majority of its prefabricated walls. The hospitality sector has been another area of growth for Riverbend, with the recent Marriot hotel in Saskatoon ranking as one of the company’s biggest single projects to date.
While Riverbend designs and manufactures all of its wall systems in-house, the company does contract out the construction of roof trusses to a local supplier.
For the Maendels, Riverbend is continuing a proud family tradition that dates back to Michael’s father and grandfather, both of whom worked their entire lives in the construction industry. “It’s all I know,” says the elder Maendel.
Running a fledgling business doesn’t leave much time for hobbies outside of work, Meandel says the sense of pride that comes from putting out a product one can stand behind as fulfilling as any extracurricular pursuit. “We’re not scared to pick up the phone because we know we are doing quality work,” he says. “If something is wrong, we’re not going to point fingers; we’re just going to go fix it.”
Maendel does not have any plans to change Riverbend Building Supply’s current growth trajectory, and will continue to focus on designing and manufacturing prefabricated building systems, RTM homes and prefabricated walls for the Manitoba market.