Innovation and Integrity

Newton Group

Raised on a sheep and cattle farm in New Zealand, Edwin Newton grew up driving bulldozers and constructing buildings for the family farm. “We built our own woolsheds, fences, roads and bridges,” he explains. “As you see, building things has always been a part of my life.”

Mr. Newton spent several years working on sheep and cattle farms in New Zealand before traveling to England to work in construction and land drainage. There, he learned some additional skills and trades and familiarized himself with drawings and drafts of construction projects. After arriving in Canada in 1992, Mr. Newton worked in carpentry and manufacturing before launching his own company in 1994, then called Kiwi Newton Construction.

Newton Group has evolved over the years to include a diverse variety of offerings, with an emphasis on prefabricated and modular structures. Besides general contracting, the company offers services such as design-build, construction management and project management, enabling it to oversee the successful execution of projects from start to finish.

“We’ve had steady growth,” explains Mr. Newton. “There is only so much you can do in the space of a twenty-four hour day, so I decided to change and reinvest my business to a new method of delivery. I decided to go into different building solutions to keep my company growing. I made the conscious decision to become the builder, not just the developer.”

Kiwi Newton Construction has become a leader in prefabricated and design-build facilities. The company’s completed projects include long term care facilities, schools, industrial plants, warehouses and office buildings as well as the redevelopment of the Seagram’s Barrel Warehouse in Waterloo, Ontario. The Seagram’s project consisted of converting an old whiskey distillery into an innovative 105-unit loft condominium complex.

Another interesting project was the conversion of an aging Eaton Centre in downtown Guelph into Old Quebec Street. Kiwi Newton Construction redeveloped this property by removing the second floor corridor and erecting skylights in its place, while renovating the remainder of the mall to resemble a streetscape reminiscent of the historic Old Quebec neighbourhood.

Diverse Divisions

Mr. Newton soon saw opportunities for growth into other areas of construction, and developed specific divisions within the company to handle parking structures, bridge construction, solar energy, and water and wastewater treatment needs. Now Newton Parking Structures, Newton Bridge Solutions, Newton Solar and Nadeco Limited are able to tackle these diverse areas and provide a true one-stop solution.

Newton Parking Structures specializes in building the CANADACAR System – a modular, pre-engineered parking structure for facilities based on a European design. Calling it a “fresh new look at parking structures,” Mr. Newton cites the lower cost of prefabricating the structures offsite and the shorter construction time compared to building a parking garage onsite as being key advantages to this system. A multilevel parking structure was built by Newton Parking Structures using this system at the Centennial GO Transit Station in Markham, Ontario. The structure was constructed with modular concrete comprising open decks with 449 free span parking spaces.

Another division of the business, Newton Bridge Solutions offers re-engineered and pre-fabricated bridge systems to be installed onsite. The company’s offering in this field represents a truly innovative system using an advanced polymer composite technology known for its durability. It is a high quality system giving bridges an estimated lifespan of over one hundred years – as compared to fifty years for conventional concrete bridges. This Fibre Reinforced Polymer (FRP) bridge technology also utilizes environmentally sustainable, efficient design features, and employs less energy usage for its production – a good fit with Newton Group’s principles as a company committed to green technology and design. Newton Bridge Solutions used these building techniques to rehabilitate the Dean Lake Bridge over the Mississagi River in Huron Shores, Ontario, where the team replaced a wooden deck from 1908 with a custom FRP deck.

Rounding out the company are the Newton Solar division, responsible for commercial and industrial solar panel installations; Nadeco Water and Wastewater Treatment, which provides general contracting services in the water and wastewater construction industry; and Kiwi Condo and Kiwi Commercial, which build and develop pre-assembled buildings for residential and commercial interests.

In addition, The Newton Group maintains a 50,000 square foot structural and miscellaneous steel operation. This operation is capable of cutting, grinding, welding, bending and painting steel. Metal such as mild steel, cast iron, aluminum and stainless metal works can all be fabricated for use in staircases, railings, façade louvers, mesh façades, structural columns, structural beams or cambered structural beams.

Guiding Principles

No matter the project, building high-quality, low-cost, and long-lasting buildings that are environmentally friendly is the guiding principle behind the Newton Group’s mission to succeed. “I wouldn’t take on a project that would be destructive to the environment,” Mr. Newton shares.

He also believes that keeping customers happy and satisfied is crucial, and feels that the best way to achieve this is by acting with a high level of professionalism and integrity. “We want repeat business and good word of mouth, so we always take responsibility for our actions,” says Mr. Newton. Another element that makes the company so successful is its flexibility. “We can jump on projects quickly, with a strong team of designers and engineers on staff who can help us put things into production faster. It’s quite a change from where I was years ago.”

Emphasizing the innovation behind its products in addition to the services it offers is another way the company sets itself apart from its competitors. “We can show what we can offer in our facility compared to a general construction company. We can show our buildings just like someone can go to a car dealer and see a car that someone may like and you can look at the specs. That’s how we are selling our product – selling building systems directly to the owner.”

Facing Challenges

Mr. Newton admits that it took some time for clients to be receptive to a new way of building things, but he addresses the challenges by emphasizing the benefits that pre-fabricated structures can deliver. “It takes a long time to make that sort of paradigm shift, to get people to accept this way of building. For some reason, when we build structures in a plant, people think that it’s a totally different process.”

But pre-fabricated structures bring with them lower costs and shorter building times, definite advantages for the client. “I want to deliver an environmentally better product at a competitive price and at a lower price by building pre-fab and with the quality of the concrete that we use,” explains Mr. Newton.

Additional challenges include finding qualified staff and skilled tradespeople. “It can be hard to find project managers with the skill set we need,” Mr. Newton says. To address this, the company provides rigorous in-house training and supports its team members as they learn the ropes in the Newton Group. “We have a lot of training courses for our staff. We’ve set up a lot of training systems and established how the processes go together, and we test the staff before they can go onsite.”

Looking Ahead

Of course, keeping the work going is an ongoing priority. Newton Group dealt with the economic slowdown of 2008-2009, and Mr. Newton now feels that entering into niche markets and the rebounding housing market will help the company continue to grow.

In the near future, the company is working on a substantial parking structure for the University of Windsor. The structure will be a 920 car parking garage with space for motorbikes and bicycles. “The owner wanted a lot of value for the money they were spending,” Mr. Newton explains. “We showed them what the project would look like and committed to spending the specific amount of money allocated to build the garage and not go over budget. We were chosen by the University and we have proved that we can be a manufacturing general contractor with this project. We feel the building of this structure will assist us in getting a lot more opportunities. We have been getting a lot more calls for projects after seeing what Newton Group can build.”

An additional upcoming project is a condominium development in Sudbury. The sixteen-unit building is projected to be completed later this year. Mr. Newton feels that the influx of people to the region to work in the local mining and commodities operations will keep the market strong. “The further away you are from town, the more interest many people have in pre-fabricated buildings,” he says.

With its emphasis on environmentally friendly building, Mr. Newton feels that his company has a bright future ahead. “We have an exciting future at Newton Group. Energy-efficient design is the way of the future and we have great building solutions for people who are interested in these projects. We don’t sell just building structures, but energy-efficient building solutions.”

July 20, 2018, 2:55 AM EDT

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