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Spar Construction Ltd.: Restoring What Nature Has Damaged
June 2010 was a rough period for residents in southern Alberta. The normally arid region suffered from heavy rainfall and the tributaries to the South Saskatchewan River overflowed from their banks, causing widespread flooding in the communities of Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Cardson and Coaldale. Incredibly, even portions of the Trans-Canada Highway leading into Saskatchewan were submerged. The flooding ̶ every home and business owner’s nightmare ̶ caused millions of dollars in damages and left many families homeless.
Cleaning up after a disaster is not as simple as pumping water out of the basement or washing soot off a wall. In order to ensure that a home or business is truly habitable, people should consult an experienced professional. Spar Construction Ltd. (Spar), a general contracting company operating from eastern Edmonton to northern Alberta, specializes in restoration following property damage.
“For any restoration company, the weather plays a large factor in the volume of business,” says Ken Lakhram, C.E.T., one of the owners of Spar. “In the past couple of years here in Alberta our clients have had to deal with hail, excessive rain, fire, heavy ice dams [when water builds up in roof drainage behind a blockage of ice] and snow loads on roofs.”
Spar was founded by Red Seal carpenters ticket holder Colin Campbell in 1985, and has since expanded to include owners Rick Woodcock, Mark Comeau and Lakhram. Lucky for residents, the company was founded a mere two years before one of Canada’s worst natural disasters occurred in the Spar’s backyard.
Addressing the Small Details Following Big Challenges
On July 31, 1987, a tornado, peaking at an F4 on the Fujita scale, remained on the ground for an hour in eastern Edmonton and Stratchcona County, leaving behind a swath of destruction 40 kilometers long and up to a kilometer wide in places. The tornado and event, known to Edmontonians as “Black Friday,” killed 27 people, injured more than 300, destroyed the same number of homes, and caused almost $590 million (in inflation-adjusted figures) in damages. Spar helped local property owners pick up the pieces, as it has done in countless instances since 1985 and as it will into the future.
“As a restoration company, we prosper as things get unfortunately worse,” reflects Lakhram. “For instance, many days of heavy rain can cause a lot of issues. When there’s an excess of water, basements start flooding and roofs start to leak, causing homeowners no end of misery.”
Spar’s team of 40 employees addresses these issues from its 20,000-square foot facility that is equipped to handle fire/smoke, water/flood, reconstruction, vandalism, theft and/or general construction projects of all sizes. The massive facility contains a millwork shop, a flooring showroom, ozone chambers, laundry area and cleaning stations, plus a 10,000-square foot heated storage facility.
Spar’s crews also have access to state-of-the-art fire and flood cleanup equipment and the most recently developed products to effectively handle odor control and drying equipment. The company’s employees are available and equipped to handle all emergencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Damaged properties are very emotion places for the structure’s owner. Therefore quality control is of the utmost important at Spar, and to reinforce this the company retains most of its trades in-house. Spar employees self-perform all of the company’s carpentry, painting, drywall, flooring and cleaning (ozone and laundry). All that is subbed out is roofing, electrical and plumbing.
Additionally, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration (IICRC) certifies Spar’s comprehensive capabilities, and the company has a satisfactory rating with the Better Business Bureau. “It’s almost a full-time job keeping up with the paperwork that the government requires,” jokes Lakhram. “Each year, the government passes increasingly stringent regulations to improve safety standards, but we are extremely good at staying abreast of changes in the industry.”
With the company drawing on all these resources, Lakhram says that recent slowdown in the economy hasn’t affected Spar. “We have been extremely busy and have a large backlog,” reveals Lakhram. “We typically work on 40 to 50 projects a year.”
The company’s activity is supplemented by client preventative maintenance services – board ups, site cleaning and reconstruction – to help secure projects against vandalism and theft. Lakhram adds that Spar’s crews also offer clients traditional general contracting services and that Spar employees can perform tenant, commercial and residential renovations and new construction. “About 85 percent of our clients are residential and the balance is light commercial,” he adds.
Spar crews typically work on projects within a 100-mile radius of the company’s headquarters in Edmonton, but have recently expanded operations with the opening of a branch office in Calgary.
Home and business owners can be difficult to manage during any construction project, but Spar Construction Ltd. has the proficient experience and professional demeanor to successfully complete projects for people who have had disaster strike their home or business. Owners Colin Campbell, Rick Woodcock, Mark Comeau and Ken Lakhram have amassed a team of employees that are consummate professionals and are helping Albertans put their lives back in order after disaster strikes, as well as build new dreams.