By Tracy Hanes
Core Values and Award-Winning Work Distinguish Amsted
Sometimes, nice guys and girls do finish first—and consistently so. For the third time, Ottawa’s Amsted Design-Build has claimed the Ontario Renovator of the Year award. The prestigious honour represents the highest standard for professional renovation and sets the bar in leadership, community service, customer service and innovation for the rest of the industry.
Amsted president Steve Barkhouse, whose company also claimed top prize at this year’s Awards of Distinction for Bathroom Renovation and a runner-up finish for home renos with an “Actual Retail Value Up To $250,000,” says he and his staff believe that a successful renovation is defined not by the transformation of a home, but by the transformation in a family’s life. Amsted has a company-wide focus on giving back and supports such organizations as the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, Hospice Care Ottawa and Wear Red Fridays supporting Canadian troops, among many others.
“We’ve been given so much opportunity over the years and that’s given us the opportunity to grow and improve, and we want to reciprocate,” says Barkhouse. “I’m from a small town where we believed in reciprocating, and Ottawa is a small town that has been very giving.”
Founded in 1989 by Barkhouse as a single-person operation, Amsted now employs more than 40. Each company member carries a card listing Amsted’s 10 core values, including integrity, respect, excellence and teamwork.
“Receiving this award is an affirmation that encapsulates all we do,” says Barkhouse. “It’s not an affirmation of the design team or finance team or construction team, but the whole team and how we operate together. It’s nice to get that affirmation.”
Amsted is committed to providing green opportunities and takes a holistic approach to design using sustainable materials. Promus Ottawa, Amsted’s sister-company, provides professional disaster restoration services to the Greater Ottawa Area. The teams work together under one roof, sharing staff, resources and a corporate culture.
“I think what sets us apart is the combination of things we do and the consistency,” says Barkhouse. “We have been able to do what we do for many years, but when you add in our core values and our drive to do things better, that culture and mindset of constant improvement is what separates us.”
Barkhouse and Amsted staff have been very active, serving on the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association and on the Reno Council in many capacities, and have been involved in local, provincial and national award programs, and other industry initiatives.
The company has had many industry firsts, including: having LEED certified in-house designers trained to identify sustainable opportunities; customized project management software that creates a portal for current and accurate project information; and ‘Living Room’ presentation centres in four locations in Ottawa.
Amsted’s employees enjoy benefits, profit-sharing and training opportunities. Many have their names engraved on paver stones in the company’s walkway, recognizing work anniversaries from five to 25 years. The company volunteer policy provides staff members with a paid vacation day for volunteering on two of their own days.
“We have a philosophy to hire people who are better than us,” Barkhouse says. “People like working with other great people and like an opportunity to be successful and grow. My job is cheerleader and I make sure that opportunity is there for them.”
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