By Ted McIntyre
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Community work, technological advances help propel Great Gulf to it’s first Builder of the Year Award.
You need a lot more than a big portfolio to earn OHBA Builder of the Year honours. It’s not simply about building in a community, after all; it’s about serving that community. It’s also not just a matter of holding a longtime membership in the provincial and national bodies; it’s about actively supporting them.
Great Gulf checks all the boxes. For the first time in OHBA history, the Toronto-based high-rise and low-rise builder captured the prestigious Ontario Home Builder of the Year honour at the 2018 OHBA Annual Conference in Ottawa.
“We’re very proud of this award. It is great to be recognized by our peers for not only our performance as a builder and our business results, but also in terms of our contributions to the home building industry and community,” says Tad Putyra, president and COO, Great Gulf Low-Rise. “The fact that the OHBA recognized all the divisions of our company makes the award even more meaningful. The credit goes to every single member of our organization.”
A founding member of the international Active House Alliance, a volunteer on the OHBA/EnerQuality Technical Committee and Canada Green Building Council, and an active board member of BILD and Rescon, Great Gulf is also an industry leader and innovator in sustainable design and construction for more than 40 years, utilizing leading technology in its construction.
“Our business process is based on constant improvement, enabled by our manufacturing and BIM (Building Information Modelling) processes as well as computer-driven machinery,” says Putyra. “This has allowed us to be more sustainable, more productive and to deliver better quality to our customers. The bedrock of the Tucker HiRise division is BIM, which allows for full integration of the project from initiation to completion.”
Team Work With Colleagues in Technology
“We’re also sharing our technology with our colleagues in the industry. H+ME Technology and Tucker HiRise cooperate with many other builders,” Putyra adds. “There’s more to come since we’re prototyping new ideas as we speak—for example, through the international Active House concept. In addition to being environmentally sensitive, the Active House concept focuses on human comfort and health.”
Building an Active House in Niagara and Etobicoke involved a full cross-section of the Ontario home building industry including architects,consultants, trades and suppliers. The Etobicoke Active House was the first Active House in the world to receive certification from the Danish Institute of Technology.
H+ME Technology, a subsidiary of Great Gulf and a fully automated manufacturer of timber structure notably, received CSA certification for its manufacturing process last year. Through H+ME Technology, Great Gulf follows a very rigid quality assurance program. All the material delivered to the factory, such as softwood, engineered wood, hardware and adhesives, are subjected to a very thorough CSA-mandated inspection process. As a result, the structure performance exceeds industry standards.
The Human Touch
But the company’s human touch might be as impressive as its technological one, with community outreach programs varying from Cavalcade of Lights, Doors Open Toronto and the Daily Bread Food Bank, to Ronald McDonald House.
“It’s not just cheque presentations; it’s about personal interaction,” stresses Madeline Zito, V.P. of Public Relations at Great Gulf. “We sit on a number of not-for-profit boards and committees and are involved with Youth BiPolar Disorder at Sunnybrook where we’ve worked with doctors to help bring awareness to mental illness. Through our fundraising efforts we’ve been instrumental in the clinic’s expansion allowing for more youth to be treated.”
On Oct. 19 a volunteer group from Great Gulf planted 125 Trees at the Kelso Conservation Area as one of environmental initiatives to support the Milton community, where its Arbor Peaks development is taking shape.
“We encourage our employees to volunteer in community initiatives we support,” says Zito. “Earlier this year Josh Reisman organized a team of Great Gulf volunteers to participate at Ronald McDonald House—we bought food, prepared it for 150 families, served it and left the kitchen and dining room spotless. And we’re doing it again Nov. 21. We volunteer at the Daily Bread Food Bank by sorting and bagging food every year.”
Getting up close and personal to those in need makes a big impact—to both sides, Zito notes. “This summer, we learned about a downtown housing project in Toronto where people were having financial difficulty getting through the third and final week of the month. So we provided each family with bags of non-perishable food and held a barbeque for the residents.
“Seeing their faces—families with children, single parents, seniors—was very gratifying,” says Zito. “We don’t publicly announce hey ‘Look at what we’re doing!’ It’s just the right thing to do. We genuinely enjoy helping others and we should be doing it because we serve these communities.”