Timberline Custom Homes
Ray Northey founded Timberline Custom Homes (Timberline) in 1996 as a division of Northey Contracting Inc. (NCI). “I founded NCI in 1989 at the age of 25,” says Ray. “At 18 years old I entered the construction trade by working for my cousin’s husband, Rob Riel.”
Ray goes on to note that he came from a farming family. “There were a lot of different Northeys in the construction trade and all around the area,” he says. Therefore, Timberline needed to be created to set the company apart from the other companies with similar names to NCI.
In 1989 Ray and his brother-in-law started Timberline, working together for two years before parting ways. From there, Ray began growing NCI and Timberline, expanding from a three-man operation to a company that now employs 22 people. Based in Woodview, Ontario, the team travels approximately an hour beyond the office for projects.
Today Ray and his team pride Timberline on being a cut above the competition. “We back up everything we do,” Ray explains, “and everything our subcontractors do. We are very thorough with quotes, and seek to build high-quality custom homes on lakefront and country properties.”
Though Ray began working in subdivision construction, he has since found a niche building comfortable homes and cottages for people to enjoy along the shore of the Kawartha Lakes region.
Marketing the Timberline Experience
Ray credits the name change as a major turning point in the business’ success. During the rebranding the team selected a new logo, standing out with a wolf howling at the moon as a symbol of building with nature. As the company began to pursue additional projects, the crew found more recognition and a reputation began to follow the Timberline name.
According to Ray, people boating on the lakes began to see more and more of Timberline’s homes and cottages popping up; with modern designs that effortlessly blend into the lakeshore and woods. It is evident that word-of-mouth gets around, and Timberline now enjoys an impressive referral rate.
The team’s growing footprint allows Timberline to take on larger projects. “We have a lot of cool things going on,” Ray explains. “We are really proud of our recent Stoney Lake Cottage project.” According to Ray, Richard Wengle, a Toronto-based architect, designed the cottage. The property features a main cottage, a bunkhouse, a garage and a boathouse. The cottage’s unique curved design allows residents to take in a broad panoramic view of the lake from the property.
In 1994 Ray teamed up with Rob – who he originally started working for – under a separate venture to develop a 56-estate lot property starting in 2014; Timberline will be the builder of the unique 100-acre property. “We will construct several unique designs or go full-custom designs on the property for buyers looking for the Timberline experience,” Ray says.
To keep up with all of the recent goings-on, the company has also conducted an overhaul of its website, amplifying Timberline’s web presence. “We offer an online portal for current and potential customers to browse and watch their dream come to reality as we upload pictures as the construction progresses,” Ray details. “The expanded new website now offers plans designed by Timberline, available for purchase or to use as a starting point for your project.”
Staying Ahead of the Market
As the company continues to grow within the market, Ray and his team are always managing operations to improve practices. In order to remain competitive, Timberline has connections with several local contractors in a number of trades who provide quality, efficient services at a competitive price. These subcontractors share the company’s vision for unique housing and continued innovation.
“We sub out a fair bit,” he explains. “It isn’t profitable for us to self-perform everything. We are primarily the finishers and project managers on the house.”
In the vein of innovation, Timberline is making strides. Ray and his team are constantly seeking better ways to integrate renewable technology into construction projects. “We are looking toward solar energy for our new development,” he says. “We are worked on using solar power hot water to provide heating and hot water at the tap.” Additionally, green energy is a growing trend in the home construction market, and Ray and his team are right on top of customers’ changing energy needs.
While some contractors have seen slow business over the last few years, Ray says the American recession has not hit his business with much force. “We have always been pragmatic about our accounting,” he explains. “The market looks pretty good here. It is never a bad idea to tighten up operations. We only felt small bumps throughout the rough spots.”
Vertical integration has been a major benefit for Timberline. The company is able to run fairly lean while still performing much of the business management side of the operation in-house. “We hand-built our pricing program that fits what we do in Excel spread sheets,” Ray explains. “Everything is integrated and we run a clean operation, even with the normal headaches of business.”
Ray is proud to note that Timberline knows how important it is to maintain relationships with each project, even when the keys are handed over to the owners. “Tarion Home Warranty is a big part of making sure your home or cottage is covered for years to come,” he says. “Timberline is a proud member in great standing with Tarion Home Warranty.”
Timberline is a well-managed business. Ray’s leadership and the Timberline team have provided a stable foundation for a growing development company. To solidify success, relationships with clients and subcontractors alike ensure continued expansion of services. Timberline Custom Homes will continue to grow as a leader in custom-home building in Ontario for years to come.
For more information about Timberline Custom Homes, please visit: www.timberlinecustomhomes.ca.