Bruce Gaiser got into a pinch back in the late 1980s and 1990s when he started doing business with Native reserves in Manitoba. The cash flow of the business dried up, “I decided I would work for more credible companies, like school boards, government, provincial boards, municipalities, cities, now we’re getting more into the design-build,” says Gaiser. “You solicit the general contractors which is what we do, this is how the owner decides which builder to go with. The competitive build is what it is called. Back in the early 90s, you would get 10 and 11 guys bidding on a job, now you would get about three. You can be more selective about who you deal with. Honing in on what we are good at.”
The company does about a dozen to two dozen projects a year. Currently, two of their projects include grocery stores in Shore Lake, Manitoba, “looking at Esther Hazey, Saskatchewan,” says Gaiser. “They mine for potash and they use it for fertilizer, it’s a huge commodity because they use it for ethanol so they just upgraded to one of the mine sites. Real estate in the town overnight jumped to over 25 percent.”
When it comes to marketing, Gaiser says the company is not big on it. They work with Goodon Industries and they manage the excavator, the plumbing, the heating and the drywaller, “so we’ve developed a strategic alliance with them in Aylmer, Ontario. The guy who started the facility they grew tobacco.”
Gaiser finds it hard to keep his best people when it comes to human resources, “well that’s a tough one because labour is so tight right now. It’s a tough market right now and the availability of trained skilled labour is tough to find. The people we do have with us we are giving them incentives, we are giving them wage incentives and we are bumping them two to three times a year. Hospital districts we work for too. They poach our people. We give our people training and we give them opportunities.”
Gaiser says he had one woman with their company who they trained and she did well. She did so well that the federal government hired her. Another man was traveling miles and miles to get to Gaiser Construction Specialists. The company did some projects in his hometown and came to know about the work – soon he was hired on in his local town.
“We pick a volume, we can only do so much work because we only have only so much resources available, we look at subcontracting and we have to be very careful about the projects we are going to work on,” Gaiser explains. “The economy improves and then people are getting poached to bigger companies. The strategy changes to how you can do well and give customer service because in the end, that is what is important.”
To keep the Gaiser Construction Specialists going so they can continue strong customer service, their recent strategies in investment are important. They buy land, not gold. Their concentration is on commercial properties, although they do have some residential properties as well. Bruce Gaiser invests in his company, “we look at buying revenue properties and that’s our strategy and that’s where we have got to be. Real estate is going up. Where the ceiling, I do not know.”
In terms of development, they are in a busy market right now where it is easy to find customers, “you want to keep your level of customer service substantial,” says Gaiser. “The people who are kicking tires and looking for the best bargain, once you give them the price, they either see the value or they don’t. We’re working with companies like Wyeth Organics [pharmaceutical company]. Basically, pick the customers and get in with those people who have lots of work and develop those strategic alliances.”
Some of their strategic alliances include working with the school boards on rooms for children with disabilities. This is a project worth $75,000.
“We’re doing a hospital of 4,000 square feet and that’s about a $6 million job,” says Gaiser. “It’s all soup to nuts…it’s all based on the customer and what they need. Customer service, that is really the foundation of what we do. We as contractors build on an understanding and a set of drawings. We are always building on the understanding of what they need us to do. You have to understand how the process of the training and the education is going, like on Extreme Makeover it’s a makeover with Ty [Pennington] and motivating people. You need that inner satisfaction when you’re doing a project. That’s the customer service side of things.
“We build on your on your ideas. Have that on the side of my truck.”