This week we talk with Blair Wilson, project manager for G Wilson Construction, a Vancouver company founded by his father Gordon that takes an old-school approach to carpentry and home building
Postmedia News: You build homes of exceptional size and architecture, including many that will eventually qualify as heritage properties. What drives your decision to support this particular market?
Blair Wilson: For us, from a business point of view, it's an exciting market to be in. Every building is different. It can be a very traditional heritage building. It can be a very modern building that's on the leading edge of structural and interior design. We do a lot of renovation work, a lot of maintenance work. Every day, there's something new. It's non-repetitive, which I think helps us retain employees. They're not stuck doing the same thing every day.
PN: Gord Wilson's decision many years ago to focus on finer aspects of carpentry seems pivotal to the company's growth and development. Could you talk about that?
BW: The company started as a small renovation company and evolved to where we are today. We're not focused on the commercial side of the business, or multi-residential, or anything like that. We focus on that one product rather than three or four.
PN: What advantages does the emphasis on high-end carpentry skills give you?
BW: We are actually training our own people. We bring them through the whole apprenticeship system, starting with first-year apprentices. Most have been with us for 10-20 years. Our first employee has now been with us for 33 or 34 years. It's almost an old-school mentality - they're well-rounded tradesmen. They can do a little bit of everything. Of course they have strengths in different areas, but we want all the guys to be well rounded.
PN: How many different trades do you deploy on a project?
BW: As far as individual trades go, there have to be at least 50 that bring a home together. Right now we have a house on the go, it's about 9,000 square feet and there are 60 people on it, of all different trades. In-house we have our own labourers, carpenters, foremen, superintendents, and then the office has the project managers, coordinators, all of our financial staff.
PN: Do you bring in finishing materials from international suppliers?
BW: The biggest aspect of that, using the port, would be all of our stone orders. When we're doing business for some of our larger homes, and we have a large quantity of stone coming in by container from Italy or Portugal or wherever it's coming from, that happens on a monthly basis.