Building on a Firm Foundation of Client Trust and Satisfaction
By Leah Kellar
Every luxury home that is built or renovated by R&M Smith Contracting Ltd. rests on a firm foundation of transparency, trust, and client satisfaction. R&M Smith Contracting Ltd. is an experienced residential custom home, design and construction management team, offering full turnkey service from concept to finished product. The general contracting company based in Peterborough, Ontario began as a small business in 1983 with its focus on small to mid-sized renovations. Since then the company has grown to be one of the Kawartha region’s largest renovators and Custom Home Builders.
Company founder, Randy Smith, has taken care of most of the company management since its beginning. His son, Dave Smith, will take over the official reigns of the business as incoming President within the next two to five years. Dave has been active in the company in the role of overseeing much of the on-site work since 2001. Randy Smith has been involved in the construction industry since he was eight years old. The son of a contractor from Toronto, Smith grew up learning the business and was surrounded by people who were acquainted with all aspects of the construction field. In the 22 years prior to founding the company, Smith learned what really sets a contractor apart in the industry.
Superior craftsmanship and knowledge of the newest materials and technologies combines with R&M’s outstanding commitment to fostering a positive experience at every phase of the building process for the client. Pride and expertise in building an uncompromising home with amazing detail and quality according to client’s preference is important for R&M.
R&M completes as many as five stunning custom homes each year with only a team of six staff. This may not seem like a lot of homes; however this is a deliberate choice that R&M has made to ensure that every home is completed to the client’s specifications with enough time and care. The top-notch quality that is required is never compromised throughout the building process.
“We only take on as much work as we can do with great quality. To take on anymore is to lose the personal touch that you have with your clients. It ends up being more of a ‘Let’s build it, get it done, and sell it,’ kind of mentality.
“We’re definitely not that kind of company,” said Smith.
Consequently, Smith remarked, the “R&M staff have every bit as much pride in the home that they have built as the homeowners do—which says a lot.”
Remarkably, almost 100 per cent of R&M’s business comes through client referral.
“We haven’t done a lot of advertising to be quite honest with you in 30 years, it’s been very minimal. We have a great team of guys. They care about their projects and they get along great with our customers,” said Smith.
In fact over the years, members of the staff have often been invited over for dinner at the clients’ new homes in gratitude for the quality of work that they have done. Clients appreciate their top quality, wonderful attitude, and timely approach.
“I make it very clear to our customers when we start and when we finish, ‘The price I give you is the price you’ll pay.’” said Smith. “We don’t do anything with regards to extras and change work orders without the approval of our client. If we settle on a price, and if there are no changes to the product, from the client— regardless of what we forgot to add in or cost out — the price doesn’t change. And that’s very important as well, because people don’t like to have a load of extras, which adds to something that definitely puts them over their budget limitations.
Their reputation for building trustworthy and transparent client relationships and commitment to quality is the reason why they have been passed on from customer to customer—from the Kawarthas to as far north as Kapuskasing, Ontario, and as far east as Truro, Nova Scotia. R&M incorporates a multi-phase planning and design process to help clients to determine what it is they would like and then adjusted it to each individual project and situation.
R&M’s Design Build Process encourages a close collaboration between clients and designers in five phases. After an initial meeting with the client, a concept plan can be produced on the spot, and once a decision is made, formal working drawings are created and the client’s ideas can be turned into reality.
Clients are encouraged to bring photos of homes and ideas they like, and to incorporate and suite the design elements that they would approve in their new home.
In 2012, R&M was named Green Builder of the Year in the Kawarthas, an award for high-tech and energy efficient approaches to sustainable building, and cost savings. They again received the recognition of Green Builder of the Year for 2013. Last year R&M was also recognized on a world scale and took home the ICF Magazine International Builder of the Year for the best custom home under 4,000 square feet. ICF stands for Insulated Concrete Form, which is a Styrofoam wall system with a concrete infill. ICF is at the forefront of environmentally friendly building practices in the industry. The combination of high R-values, low air infiltration, and high thermal mass attributes to a 25-50 per cent energy savings using ICF, versus wood or steel framed wall systems. ICF construction is also very strong and very quiet because of the Styrofoam, which acts as a better sound barrier from exterior noise.
The Burnham Project for which the company won the ICF Magazine International Builder of the Year award particularly stands out as a milestone achievement. The house is approximately 3,700 square feet. It has a full, finished walk out basement, a main floor and second floor loft which consists of another bedroom, and a family room area, as well as a full four-piece bathroom on the second floor.
Long standing relationships built on trust and loyalty, not only with clients, but partners as well have helped R&M to thrive in the industry. Kingdon TimberMart in Peterborough is the company’s main supplier and carries full supply of lumber, Roof trusses and ICF building material.
“Kingdon has never let us down, they’re always there for us,” said Smith.
The family legacy will soon continue under a third generation in the industry with Dave Smith at the helm, but client trust and satisfaction will remain the foundation of R&M’s success.
“We want to have the same relationship with our client, at the beginning of the project that we do at the end. To have happy and pleased clients is really what matters the most,” said Smith.
For more info on R&M Smith Contracting Limited, see their website at