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Ventana Construction: Relationships to Build On

Ventana Construction is a well-kept secret in the Lower Mainland's construction market. For 37 years, it has maintained a low profile, prioritizing relationship-building.

Ventana Construction is everything you would expect from one of BC’s largest general contractors—and a few things you wouldn’t.

Offering more than a typical general contractor or construction manager, the full-service construction partner usually handles 20 to 30 projects concurrently, with individual projects valued as high as $300 million. It employs a team of 250 people and is headquartered in Burnaby.

Operating for nearly four decades, the company’s diverse portfolio ranges from non-market residential and retail and office buildings to industrial buildings, showcasing expertise in wood frame, mid-rise and high-rise constructions, often with complex design elements and constraints. Its institutional buildings include TRIUMF, UBC’s School of Biomedical Engineering and alternative fuel cell structures for Ballard Power. Some of its signature community centers and arenas include Port Coquitlam Community Centre, Langley Events Centre, Chilliwack Coliseum and the Moose Jaw Events Centre.

“As our portfolio has grown and become more diverse, our projects have increased in size; however, we did not want our clients with smaller scale projects to be left unserved,” says company president Dan Marsolais. “We established a smaller projects division—Ventana Special Projects—to provide the same level of service and our relationship-focused approach to a sector of our industry that often operates a little differently and at a faster pace.”

Built on repeat business and team work

It’s no accident that Ventana has made its mark across nearly every sector of construction. Its exponential growth has been carefully earned one repeat client at a time.

“We only consider a project fully successful when a client asks us to build their next project,” Marsolais says. “Our teams ensure the project’s best interests are top of mind and that clients are treated fairly.”

To solidify that commitment, the company offers an integrated delivery system through specialized internal teams designed to ensure each project is successful. Tyler Pasquill, vice-president of pre-construction, highlights Ventana’s pre-construction team’s expertise at managing billions of dollars annually. The team provides insight into market conditions, pricing dynamics and new products or approaches that can improve cost and schedule efficiencies, enhance constructability, and help explore alternative solutions to all types of construction challenges. It works closely with the Building Information Modeling (BIM) team, which improves project accuracy and reduces bottlenecks during the design and construction phases.

Ventana is at the forefront of the construction environmental sustainability movement, which has become ingrained in the company operations. Staff are now proficient in LEED, Passive House, REAP and carbon considerations, among other initiatives. Ventana also has specialized mechanical, electrical and exterior envelope management teams to improve performance from preconstruction to project completion.

“It’s a higher level of service,” Marsolais says. “We consider the suite of services we provide a big part of what we call the ‘Ventana Way,’ an approach we emphasize with our team often, encouraging and rewarding service proficiency.”

Relationships to build on

The Ventana Way begins with relationships. “Constructing buildings might be complex, but the human component in the industry can be the most challenging part,” Marsolais says. “There is a great deal of pressure and risk, often with many competing interests in an environment that demands a lot from an ever-shrinking pool of qualified individuals.”

Ventana has mastered this type of environment by focusing on building relationships between clients, trade partners and internal teams. They discuss relationships with every hire, in employee reviews, in completed project reviews and in daily discourse.

“We encourage all to consider the human component in every project decision that is made,” Marsolais says. “We feel that level of emphasis is one of our best differentiators.”

Positive team culture

In 2023, Ventana once again earned recognition as one of BC’s Top Employers and Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers. Marsolais highlights the way the company’s teams foster camaraderie, supporting community initiatives and collaborating on shared objectives. They actively engage in charitable events sponsored by the company and benefit from wellness programs that promote social cohesion. “It is a thriving community within Ventana, underlining the primary goal of nurturing and expanding this positive culture as the company grows,” he says.

Build local

Although it has grown to complete projects across Canada, Ventana has largely remained BC and Lower Mainland focused.

“Our efforts are concentrated on being successful in this market,” Marsolais says. “Our people and clients have the benefit of having direct access to the ownership group and we are very nimble as a company.”

Trade partners and signature repeat clients in the Lower Mainland have “grown up” alongside Ventana, and that local history cannot be underestimated when delivering successful projects. “We all have deep roots in our local communities and take great pride in contributing to their success,” Marsolais says. “Our staff recognizes Ventana projects all over the lower mainland and proudly claim, ‘We built that’.”

Future forward

If the past four decades are any indication, it is safe to say that growth is inevitably on Ventana’s horizon. But Marsolais says the size and scope of the company’s work will never compromise its performance standards on projects, its focus on relationships, and its protection and enhancement of the company culture.

“Our simple formula has been steady, logical growth without sacrificing the Ventana way or community,” he says. “This has been very successful. As we stay true to what we know works, we see limitless opportunity for Ventana.”

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