Building Success

Seagate Construction

Seagate Construction is a Halifax based design-build and construction management firm specializing in planning, designing, and constructing commercial and industrial buildings. The company has enjoyed rapid expansion since its inception eight years ago due to excellent customer service and a proven track record of delivering projects on time and within budget.

When Robert Scammell launched Seagate Construction in 2004, he already had over 30 years of experience in the construction industry throughout the Atlantic Provinces. Seven years after starting his first company in 1997, Mr. Scammell recognized a change in the market and restructured in order to expand the company’s footprint. Now, Seagate Construction covers all three Maritime Provinces and is able to take full advantage of multiple business opportunities across a wide geographical area.

Seagate Construction offers client friendly solutions for every commercial construction need, providing pre-construction consultation, in-depth design-build, construction management, and traditional contracting services. The company’s design-build process utilizes a single contract allowing Seagate to undertake all planning and building, freeing the client from unnecessary stress as well as saving time and money. The company takes full responsibility for each design-build project, including quality, cost and schedule compliance. Because design and construction are overlapped and the team has complete control, the total time needed to complete a project is less than with the traditional design-bid-build system. Furthermore, with Seagate overseeing the project from beginning to end, the team can guarantee the highest quality and service every step of the way.

Seagate Construction has a roster of high profile clients in the retail, education, health, government, and hospitality sectors. The team enjoys a steady stream of new customers, but is also “focused on select clientele,” Mr. Scammell reports. “We get a lot of repeat business from them.” Projects vary widely, from supermarket renovations and mall expansions to constructing university facilities and shopping centers.

Mr. Scammell believes that the team’s communication skills are one secret to the company’s success. “We never let up on communication and cooperation,” he insists. “We try to keep our clients informed on all points.” In fact, team members are “trained to communicate,” so that clients can count on staying abreast of the situation no matter which employee is responsible for the job. Communication is especially important when the team is renovating a retail space where staff and customers are present. In fact, keeping all parties informed of every situation is one reason why Seagate has successfully accomplished multiple renovations without disturbing ongoing business operations. “Daily communication is the key,” Mr. Scammell explains. “And, if any problems ever arise everybody knows about it right away and they are solved. That has always worked for us. That is why we get so many repeat customers.”

Solid communication also helps the team meet deadlines, which Seagate believes is of the upmost importance. “We have a real focus on keeping clients happy and hitting deadlines,” Mr. Scammell reports. “Very rarely do we ever have a deadline that we don’t meet.” He adds that, when a deadline isn’t met, “There is always a reason.” The cause may be unforeseen circumstances such as severe weather, delayed shipments or because a client wishes to alter the construction plans. “When we do hit a potential delay, we try to make it up in the remaining time we have so we still meet the owner’s completion schedule.”

Seagate construction is also extremely committed to safety. “Safety within our organization is paramount,” Mr. Scammell reports. “We’ve had zero lost time since the company started. We have a totally clean record.” The company maintains its impeccable safety record through careful monitoring, strict policies, and rigorous training. “We have a yearly audit that is done by an outside auditing firm and we score full points every year,” Mr. Scammell says. The company also organizes regular internal safety reviews in order to pre-emptively troubleshoot any potential problem areas.

Seagate Construction deals with many different suppliers and subcontractors to ensure that every client gets the best value for their construction project. This policy also gives smaller businesses an equal chance at success. “When it comes to subtrades and suppliers, we treat them all equally,” Mr. Scammell reports. “We don’t have any special relationships with anybody.” Instead, the company rewards competence, economy and good service. “We give everybody the same opportunity. And, it is always based on reputation and price. We are constantly in competition for our work so we have to treat everybody the same.” The company also makes an effort to use local suppliers and tradespeople whenever possible. “We try to support the local community,” Mr. Scammell explains.

The team’s supportive attitude extends to its employees as well. “We have a family type atmosphere,” Mr. Scammell says. “All of our employees know that if they have a family problem – their child is sick or anything else – they are able to attend to it. There is no question about that. Family comes first.” This positive company culture has led to high rates of employee retention, which also benefits clients by ensuring that Seagate personnel are well trained and experienced.

Having extensive experience and a broad range of expertise means that the team can offer clients a variety of building solutions. “We work in all areas of commercial construction,” Mr. Scammell reports. For instance, the company offers clients a choice of building materials, including pre-engineered metal building options as well as tilt-up concrete. Mr. Scammell believes that pre-engineered is the “more economical” way to go. A second advantage to a pre-engineered building is its ability to achieve greater eave and clear interior heights and support wider clear spans, reducing the number of interior columns. The downside is less durability compared to tilt-up concrete.

Tilt-up concrete, whereby the exterior walls are poured on the slab-on-grade and then tilted into position, is certainly more durable and more aesthetically pleasing than metal buildings, but this advantage comes with certain tradeoffs. Tilt-up concrete is very inflexible when it comes to renovation and additions and Mr. Scammell explains that any future changes – even small ones – are more complicated. So if, for example, the client wants to expand the building or add a window or door later on, a seemingly simple project can become quite complicated and costly. “It’s a lot more work than with a pre-engineered building,” Mr. Scammell explains. At the moment, however, most clients are choosing durability over flexibility. “We’ve found in recent years that tilt-up has more or less taken over and the pre-engineered building market in this area has been pretty low.”

Seagate can also provide clients with environmentally friendly design and construction solutions. The firm understands that sustainable buildings and green construction practices are important for our planet – and for the client’s pocketbook. In fact, research indicates that, beyond the obvious environmental advantages, sustainable buildings also provide developers, owners, and occupants with substantial economic benefits over the long run. The company knows that an increasing number of clients are going green, and the team is actively working to meet those escalating demands at a reasonable cost. Seagate Construction is also a member of the Canada Green Building Council, an organization committed to sustainable building solutions. Mr. Scammell says that the team is about to undertake its first LEED project, and hopes to proceed with that in the near future.

Mr. Scammell is pleased to report that Seagate has been largely unaffected by the global financial crisis, and business has remained steady over the past few years. Having worked most of his career in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Scammell was used to seeing many up and down cycles. However, since establishing in the Maritime Provinces, he has found that the company’s work has consistently grown. “There doesn’t seem to be any ups and downs,” Mr. Scammell reports of the local construction market. “We are quite busy.”

Mr. Scammell believes that the company’s stellar reputation is its key to maintaining such a strong workload throughout an uncertain economy. “Over the years I have tried all manner of marketing strategies, but the best one is word of mouth,” he says. The key, he explains, is simply “earn a good reputation based on integrity and to do a good job for your client.”

The strategy has certainly paid off because, at Seagate Construction, offering superior service and meeting every deadline are commitments the team is dedicated to achieve. “We just put our head down and go to work and do the best job we can for the client in the most expeditious and the most economical way,” Mr. Scammell summarizes. “We just try and do a good job for everybody.”

July 19, 2018, 3:39 PM EDT

The Gig Economy

There are countless studies that demonstrate that the nature of work is changing. Work is becoming increasingly precarious, but what does this mean? Does precarious employment imply doom and gloom or is there a silver lining for work that no longer fits traditional or conventional models? Is it a necessary evolution for the increasingly automated economy?