Quality Craftsmanship, Outstanding Service

Caledon Tile, Bath and Kitchen Centre

Brampton is a city that is growing and flourishing. Now the 9th largest city in Canada, with a growth rate of 4.2% per year, it expects to reach upwards of 725,000 people by the year 2030. In a growing economy there is always a need for a competent and capable residential and commercial renovator with a clean, modern showroom. Caledon Tile, Bath and Kitchen Centre fits the bill, specializing in the installation of tile, stone products, bathroom and kitchen renovations.

The company has developed a reputation for producing quality projects and services. As the firm celebrates its 25th anniversary, owner Colin Haley shared with us what it takes to be a successful high-end provider of quality design and installation services.

Caledon Tile was started by a German immigrant in the late 1980s. He planned on opening a Canadian branch of a German company in 1986, but instead launched Caledon Tile, which began its life doing simple installations and soon grew to include a showroom at 12 Fisherman Drive in Brampton, Ontario. As the business grew, so did its staff, and in 1991 Mr. Haley joined the organization fresh out of school. He came with a Bachelor of Arts from York University, with a major in mathematics and commerce. A self-described “gofer,” he started by delivering tiles and picking up garbage before selling in the showroom – and the rest, as they say, is history.

In order to grow, many businesses aim to develop a niche. Caledon Tile decided early on that it wanted to cater to the higher end of the installation and renovation market. “Predominantly we are a high-end boutique store,” explains Mr. Haley. “So we want to cater to a higher priced market, a clientele that wants some of the nicer things in their house or commercial business – the kind that expects to pay a little more for better service, knowledge and materials.” The company’s impressive showroom is indicative of this market position. In the higher-end market, Caledon Tile needn’t try to compete with the “Big Box” stores like Home Depot or Rona; the company is an entity all to itself, and in a growing market like Brampton its business plan is meeting with great success.

The majority of Caledon Tile’s customers are from the Mississauga – Brampton – Orangeville corridor, but the company has also completed projects throughout Toronto and as far North as Gravenhurst. “We are a professional company, and have insured installers,” explains Mr. Haley. “We are not just running around in a van putting tiles and tubs in. We try to offer a complete package – a whole home, kitchen and bathroom renovation company. We do renovations of all types, including basements and hardwood flooring.” The company is also proud of its Canadian content; all of its kitchen cabinets are Canadian made, and the business supports the community by acquiring cabinets from local mom and pop shops as well as a factory in Brampton, and from select suppliers in Quebec and B.C.

Having a showroom gives Caledon Tile instant credibility and presence in its customers’ minds. “When a customer comes into our showroom, they know right away that we are people to be reckoned with,” explains Mr. Haley. “We instantly separate ourselves from a company that doesn’t have a showroom, or from someone who has a listing in the Yellow Pages who drives a big cargo van.” By Southern Ontario Standards, the showroom is on the smaller side, and selectively displays the best of what the Brampton market is looking for.

Caledon Tile prides itself on design and originality. Never shying away from a challenge, the company recently undertook a renovation which involved an old house with a very small bathroom. Caledon Tile elected to completely remodel the upper floor by taking down a wall between a small bedroom and bathroom. This created a larger bathroom, and the smaller space left over from the previous bedroom was converted into a custom walk-in closet off the master bedroom. “It may sound generic, but quite a bit of work went into that project, including skylights in the bathroom,” says Mr. Haley. “Smaller companies would hesitate to get into jobs like this because they don’t have the skill or knowledge. It involves things like tearing down walls between rooms and re-routing main drain lines, plumbing stacks and venting so that everything is up to code.”

Indeed, when it comes to project management, Caledon Tile prefers to be involved from inception to handover. The firm can serve as General Contractor, providing clients with a single point of contact during a renovation. “I may have to hire a designer, architect or engineer, but I take care of all of that, so the customer only has to deal with me,” explains Mr. Haley. “I understand what they want; I execute it and take care of the nuts and bolts that go into renovation, and I am on site on a daily basis managing the project.” By doing this, Caledon Tile can take a lot of pressure off the homeowner and ensure a quality result with no headaches.

In terms of niche offerings, Caledon Tile boasts several exclusive products. The company’s line of Cera Gres tiles was actually acquired due to previous work done with their manager. Caledon also carries exclusive lines from American Standard and other plumbing suppliers.

Design is a key facet of Caledon Tile’s business, and the team includes a talented in-house designer by the name of Sharon Carr. Of course, it takes more than just good design to make a project work, so when it comes to the installation and execution of a project, Caledon Tile depends on some trusted subcontractors who have been part of the team for over 20 years. Mr. Haley explains, “We have a really good relationship with them which works very well for the homeowner because they are reliable. I know the quality of their work and they know the quality that I expect. We can read each other’s minds when we start a project and that equates to peace of mind for everyone. In the end, the homeowner is the winner.”

Every organization has its challenges, and Caledon Tile is no exception, but as Mr. Haley explains, competition is actually a good thing. “We always have to keep an eye out for what the competition is doing. Sometimes I get envious when I go into other showrooms and see displays that are different from ours. But competition is good – it keeps everyone on their toes.”

Mr. Haley also recounts the challenge of correcting other contractors’ mistakes – and the negative impressions they can leave in the minds of clients. Mr. Haley was at a customer’s house back in September to quote on a bathroom renovation. They told him a horror story about a renovation that had taken place, whereby tiling and hardwood flooring was installed on the main floor; it ended up a disaster, and the customer was left wary of anyone else coming in to do that kind of work. Some television shows are even dedicated to fixing nightmare construction jobs, highlighting the pervasive nature of one of the underlying problems in the industry. Caledon Tiles ended up taking the job and will begin by renovating the bathroom – Mr. Haley is taking it upon himself to make sure the project goes off without a hitch.

These days, technology is playing a greater role in kitchens and bathrooms. Traditional showers are losing their prominence, and are now increasingly electronically controlled. More people are looking into customization, and fewer people are actually taking baths as compared to showers. “We put an electronic control module in the shower which has a digital display, and with the touch of a button, the homeowner can have a pre-set customized shower pattern. This could involve a rain shower, body sprays or hand showers,” explains Mr. Haley.

Similarly, whirlpool tubs have been around for 50 years, but now they are capable of injecting air into the water, creating a massage system controlled by electronic modules. “We recently [completed a bathroom renovation] with an air massage bathtub and a chromatherapy system, so that’s now combining air massage therapy and light therapy.” This tub features seven different colors of light to relax your inner being (this author has tried one and can attest to its impact and benefits), and represents just one of the ways that wellness is being brought into the home. The newest technology also includes appliances with integrated television systems, and refrigerators with computer control panels. “It’s an interesting approach and any angle that we can work helps,” says Mr. Haley.

Ultimately, he says, “We pride ourselves on operating a professional renovation division with experienced, competent, reliable, insured installers who are perfectly able to help the homeowners realize their renovation vision. In addition, our project managers will ensure that all aspects of the renovation are attended to and the homeowner will always have access to one point of contact to make sure that the renovation is exactly what he or she desires.” You cannot last for 25 years in a high-end industry unless you are doing something right; Caledon Tile is surely doing it right in Brampton.

June 19, 2018, 8:19 AM EDT

A Proactive Approach to Resolving a Longstanding Debate

About forty skilled Central and South American workers from Ecuador, Peru, Columbia and Costa Rica came to British Columbia, Canada as temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in 2006. This story incited Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) call for reforms to Canada’s TFW program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP). LiUNA, a powerful voice within the construction industry with over half a million members – 110,000 of whom are in Canada – has been the only Canadian union to address the issue.