Creating Buildings, Serving Communities
Nearly 30 years ago Big Sisters of Edmonton had plans to build an office in the valley of the North Saskatchewan River. We were a small but growing child serving organization that needed a new space for our employees, volunteers, children and youth. The potential change had the Board and staff excited until the quotes came in – they were double what we expected. Excitement quickly turned to worry as we wondered if we’d have to choose between what we needed and what we could afford.
Chandos changed everything.
They came into our lives and promised they could build us the facility we needed without compromising quality and without going over budget. One year later, Chandos came through on that promise.
Not long after we moved into the new Riverdale office, the North Saskatchewan River flooded. We called our friends at Chandos and before the end of the day we had nearly 30 of their employees protecting our building. They stayed for an entire week, helping us, our neighbours, and the surrounding community overcome the flood. We were amazed at their dedication to our organization and to our community. They were, to us, a partner unlike any other.
Even their name is unique. Unlike many firms that name themselves after their founders, Chandos is named after the lake in Ontario. A place where the founders each spent their childhood family vacations and a place where they envisioned a new breed of construction firm.
“Since the day we were founded, our culture has always centered on people – on our employees and on our clients,” says Rick Zasada, Senior Project Manager with Chandos. “As a company and as individuals, we feel very strongly about being connected to the community in a meaningful way. It’s our culture to strive to be a company that gives back, not by accident, but with care and purpose.”
Chandos calls themselves a firm built on the principles of honesty and integrity, a firm that understands each customer is unique and deserves a tailored approach. Where others see blueprints, Chandos sees people. Where others see bricks and mortar, Chandos sees buildings serving communities. And in each project since they built Riverdale, we have seen proof of those values time and time again.
“Kids and community are important to Chandos,” says Liz O’Neill, Executive Director of BGCBigs. “And that is evident in the way they treat us. Even though we aren’t a top paying client, we are always their priority because they see us an organization that works with kids and is important to the community. Therefore we are important to them.”
In 1991, we realized with the continued growth of our agency, we needed more space at Riverdale. We asked Chandos to build an addition. In 2009, we called them in again to renovate. And when we amalgamated to become Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton & Area (BGCBigs) in 2011, Chandos didn’t hesitate to commit their efforts to improving and maintaining the club spaces.
To provide a better atmosphere for the staff and volunteers and for the kids who used it as a safe and fun place to go after school, the McCauley Club was renovated in 2012. One aspect of the construction included replacing all of the windows on the south side of the building. While the windows were boarded up, someone broke into McCauley and stole the club’s TV, XBox, and DVD player. Within days, Chandos hosted a barbeque to raise money to replace those electronics for our kids.
The next club project was Kinsmen, which Chandos renovated in partnership with Enbridge in 2013. And today, Chandos is finishing West Club’s kitchen and flooring in partnership with President’s Choice. The old floors were concrete and we needed something more suitable for kids to play on, but due to the size of the club Chandos wasn’t sure they would be able to fit the entire floor in our budget. We asked them to try, and somehow they stretched our dollar and worked with XMG Flooring to make it happen.
Our relationship with them is so much more than construction. They are an important partner who consistently goes over and above for us and for our community’s kids. When a pool table cloth needed to be replaced, Chandos found one for us and installed it. When someone donated an air hockey table, Chandos employees set it up. They provide construction quotes for our grant applications and take pictures of the construction process for funding reports. When there is a lull between projects, their workers replace light bulbs, check in on past projects, and help us with odd jobs around the facilities.
“We know that as a company we can give money, but often the organizations we work with could also benefit from our expertise,” says Rick. “And as our company grows, as BGCBigs grows, we are prepared to keep giving back, not just economically but in all senses.”
Chandos also champions our cause in the community and with their partners. They are always our first call and they connect us to the right people whenever we need any support or guidance with our buildings. Because of Chandos, Kel’s Electrical Contracting Ltd. graciously donated all of the electrical fixtures for the West Club renovation. Chandos also sits on our Golf Tournament Committee and donates to the fundraiser every year. They support Lobster Lovers and make personal contributions to our agency’s programs. We are also proud to have many of their employees as BGCBigs volunteers (one of whom was named Female Mentor of the Year!).
“If our employees want to mentor children, we give them the time to do that,” Rick explains. “If Chandos is going to invest time into helping out an organization we want our employees to feel like they have the space and support to contribute personally as well. And it goes the other way too; if an employee is involved with something, we try to help them out where we can.”
“They have always been a company that cares,” Liz says. “From the day they first walked in the door and said they could build us the office we needed, their dedication to the community was inherent.”
Because of our relationship with Chandos, we know we are better able to serve our community’s children and families. Chandos minimizes their costs so we can maximize the dollars, time, and energy we invest in providing safe places and positive relationships for kids. The value Chandos provides, even between projects, reinforces our belief that we are making wise investments with the right companies on the best projects for our organization.
“Ultimately, I hope that we’ve helped make BGCBigs a better organization for kids. Whether through facilities, maintenance, money, or volunteering,” Rick says. “Sometimes it can be a breath of fresh air to work with people who are truly grateful. We believe in the work they do for children and communities, and we are proud to be connected to them.”
Right now, in a volunteer capacity, Chandos is helping BGCBigs with a 10 year plan for our facilities, demonstrating their support and belief in our organization. They have been with us from the first phase of construction, through additions and renovations, right to maintaining what they’ve created and helping us plan for the future.
“Chandos is truly involved with BGCBigs in an all-encompassing way,” Liz explains. “They are our builder, our donor, our volunteers, our construction experts. And in many ways they are also our mentor.”
Chandos has mentored our organization for nearly 30 years, and we hope they will continue to be our Big Brother in construction for many more.