More than 20 years of building highly detailed spaces for “Triple A” clients, BLT’s success is based in a fundamental core value; delivering the finest level of customer service with passion. This is Mark Watts’, the Owner of BLT, cornerstone to success in building the company from working out of a single van with one employee into the nationwide company that directly employs over 100 staff members today.
Mark, having grown up in the restaurant industry, understood that one’s “moment of truth” with a client is immediate, determined by the quality of every dish of every single meal served. Translate this approach into any business, and in BLT’s case into construction, and the company is bound to set up for success. Mark notes that “in our industry, many contractors do not properly understand that it’s not good enough to just gain a new contract; you have to want to build the next 10 projects with the same client. Customer retention is critical, and it can only be achieved through excellence in customer service.”
Scrolling through the extensive list of BLT’s projects, it becomes apparent that many of the company’s first clients like Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and The Pickle Barrel have been key factors in the company’s growth since BLT’s earlier days. Through clients like these, BLT worked with some talented consultants, creating professional relationships that blossomed into long lasting partnerships with then young, interior design firms like Mackay Wong and IIbyIV Design. From this point forward, BLT could proudly say that they earned credibility as a quality driven general contractor within the industry.
Fast forward almost two decades since the company’s creation, and BLT not only has the thriving Toronto office but is now firmly planted in the west coast, with an office in Vancouver. The passion and energy that drives Toronto’s success continues to permeate to the west coast. BLT had to quickly study the environment, determining tangible differences in the two markets while aligning with regional resources that allowed the team to build some incredible projects in Whistler, Vancouver, Nanaimo, New Westminster, Kelowna, Penticton and now extending further in to Victoria.
At the heart of it all, the customer service first based corporate philosophy is not possible without like-minded people. The company’s goal is to successfully recruit, strategically mentor, and retain staff. Many of the team members have been with the company for the last 10-20 years and the longevity in careers with a single employer can only be possible if visions to attain success are aligned. BLT is evolving to find new ways to attract talented staff in an active industry, where labour shortages in the Toronto and Vancouver markets seem to be common. By quickly adapting to the changing needs and motivational factors of younger generations looking for employment, BLT is aiming to provide an environment where the importance of an employee’s skills development and career path are fostered. “A business is simply a sum of its parts,” Watts adds, “and a great team equals success for the client, the company, and everyone else involved.”
Luckily, the economy has generally been strong for the construction industry for the last while, allowing for healthy competition which Mark ultimately understands to be a positive aspect. However, in past economic dips over the last two decades, BLT has weathered through the challenges. Mark states that “if you are true to your customers and are always a value proposition, you just need to dance harder and grow market share in a down turn,” which he and the company has done.
Today, BLT is expanding into Atlantic Canada, where it is building a 110-room hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn in Fredericton. With this and other sizeable upcoming projects, BLT has broken through the plateau of being a midsize company and is on an exciting path to becoming a large general contractor. In fact, BLT currently has its sight set on developing the company on the east coast and is in the midst of setting up another office in Halifax.
The growth, however, cannot be successfully achieved without increased efficiencies in process and in tandem, technological advancements the team is able to harness. ProCore, a shared, online portal BLT uses for construction management is accessible by all including the consultants and client. It has been a crucial tool for fluid communication as well as up-to-date document control. It brings order and organisation to what could become a whirlwind of uncoordinated information that may lead to potential delays and/or errors. BLT is also forging partnerships with Consultants who provide Revit and 3D modelling to create and overlay interference drawings. BLT utilities SketchUp providing in-house renderings for design build proposals; an effective tool for clients to visualise the end product. In essence, if technology contributes to meaningful change, BLT will welcome its use.
Being meaningful is the common thread throughout the company. BLT’s service brings meaningful value to the clients. The projects are meaningful to BLT because each team member is passionate about what they do building incredible spaces. At the end of day, what is most meaningful for the company is delivering a project that the end user is thoroughly impressed with, which ultimately reinforces that BLT’s clients and the team have successfully accomplished what they all initially set out to do.