Redefining The Art of Craftsmanship
By Rajitha Sivakumaran
“The Rosetree” – this 2016 award-winning 2,583-square-foot luxury show home comes equipped with all the essentials needed to house a family, but there are the added incentives of a mud room, a large great room and a roomy deck. This floor plan is designed for interaction, but maybe you had something else in mind? Perhaps you want a nook there, a long-winding staircase here . . . if you consulted the builders at Ashton Luxury Living, they would say, “No problem!”
Since its inception in 1984, Ashton Luxury Living has been building homes in the Calgary and surrounding areas. Redefining the art of craftsmanship with a keen eye for design and commitment to customer satisfaction and customization, the company has changed how Canadians think of luxury.
“At Ashton Luxury Living, we always say, why not live in luxury,” said John Arcuri, the company’s project and operations manager. “Luxury to us is not a price point. Luxury is a feeling that we strive to provide to all of our homeowners regardless of the price tag. Luxury to us is a service, the craftsmanship and commitment to quality seen in all of our new homes and renovations.”
Ashton’s president, Tony Arcuri, has been in the homebuilding business for more than 30 years. Being family owned and operated, the company underwent a rebranding process a few years ago with its decision to focus exclusively on statement pieces. John Arcuri had always been involved in the family business, even before officially joining the Ashton team. Because of the family touch, there is more of a personal relationship between the folks at Ashton and their homeowners.
“We always try to build a home as if we are building it for our own family. All of our homes are built with extreme attention to detail and we really feel that that’s our commitment to homeowners,” Arcuri said.
Being a small volume builder (six to 10 houses per year), Ashton’s focus is on quality, not quantity, and this way of doing things has paid off with plenty of recognition from the housing industry. The Ashton name is backed by 18 SAM Awards, which celebrate the best projects in the Calgary home building industry, and six CHBA Alberta Awards of Excellence in Housing.
“The Ashley”, Ashton’s very first show home in Cooper’s Crossing, was the recipient of the 2006 SAM Award for Best Custom Home. The following year, “The Giovanni” show home model became a five-time SAM finalist. The year 2008 brought Ashton more SAM awards. In addition to being a finalist for the prestigious Ralph Scurfield Builder of the Year Award in 2009, the company won two Best Custom Home Awards. But the greatest highlight of that year was being recognized with its very first Grand SAM Award for Builder of Merit (plus four more Best Custom Home Awards).
More recently, the company was recognized with a SAM Award for Best New Home last year. Ashton took in another round of applause as it accepted the CHBA Alberta Awards of Excellence in Housing in the single family home category in 2015 and estate home category in 2016.
Backed by the Alberta New Home Warranty Program, the company received the Platinum Award for Distinction from the program in 2012, which recognized its 20-year commitment to customers. Next year will mark 25 years of membership. Doing what they do best, Ashton has been filling their portfolio with many moments in the spotlight.
Success during tough times
Calgary’s housing market has slipped quite a bit and houses are on the market longer. Having accumulated an extensive knowledge base of the Calgary housing market for decades, Ashton has managed to thrive despite difficult economic times.
“I find that there is a lot of saturation in the Calgary housing market right now. There’s a lot of inventory, which is causing a slower turnaround of houses, and people are more hesitant to build right now because there is a lot of inventory on the market,” Arcuri said.
Even though the market is slow right now, this boutique home builder is still creating signature pieces regardless of the economy’s mutable temper.
Being successful during a housing downturn means adopting a keen observation of trends. Arcuri entered the family business, bringing with him the perspective of the younger generation on which services were needed in the Calgary market. Over the years, he has accumulated a wealth of knowledge on consumer purchase trends; new homeowners wish for both social and functional features when buying a home. People, he says, continue to want space for interaction, whether it be a spacious backyard or a cozy dining room. Consumers also want more pragmatic qualities, like increased proximity to place of employment or public transportation.
Surviving the ups and downs of the economy also entails niche specialization. New homeowners flock to Ashton because of customization. “We want all of our homes to be built right and built with quality and be filled with special details that are individual to the homeowner,” Arcuri said.
At Ashton, homeowners work with a project manager and this relationship persists from start to finish. There also appears to be no limit as to what can be customized — from something as large scale as the floor plan to the dining room paint colour that could stay with a family for years.
“Not a lot of builders are willing to let their homeowners continue to make decisions throughout their process even if something doesn’t work,” Arcuri said. “If a homeowner doesn’t like the way something turned out, we will work with them until they are happy.”
Having multiple specialties is another great way of sailing through rough seas in the housing market; Ashton is a renovator that is part of the RenoMark program. Despite the downturn, there are still plenty of opportunities in Calgary, says Arcuri.