By Cheryl Long

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There are few moments in life quite as exciting as accepting the keys to your new home. Not only is it one of — if not the largest — investments anyone will ever make, but home ownership represents the start of something new for so many. Whether it’s a starter home, a move geared to a growing family, or that long-awaited dream residence, one of Edmonton’s home builders continues to offer a selection of quality homes that fit the expectations of today’s conscientious buyer.

Pacesetter Homes, located in Edmonton, Alberta, has welcomed more than 4,000 families into home ownership since the company was formed in 1998. Part of Qualico, a leading real estate development company headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Pacesetter is the number one home builder in Edmonton, permitting 750 homes in 2014 alone.

“Pacesetter Homes has developed a home for literally every budget. We have many innovative styles and designs to suit almost every desire,” said Lloyd Dumonceaux, Assistant General Manager for Pacesetter. In 2012, the company introduced a new line of townhome designs that again reflected what homebuyers were looking for in Edmonton and surrounding communities. “It’s remained a stellar example of what our designers can bring to the table in a quality and affordable design,” Dumonceaux explained.

Dumonceaux assumed the role of Assistant GM in 2010, armed with a background in the home construction industry. He quickly focused his vision on quality and customer service — two factors that stand out when customers are choosing who will build their new home. In 2013, Qualico opened design Q, an in-house design centre that walks customers through their interior design selections, ensuring that homes are finished to the owner’s taste. Certified interior designers work one-on-one with buyers, guiding them through the process and creating a “custom home” design experience.

“Over the past several years, we’ve been focused on customer satisfaction. It’s one of our top priorities and it is very important these days for every one of our customers,” Dumonceaux said. “It’s really a driving force.”

Homes in 28 communities across Edmonton

pacesetter-victor-kitchenToday, Pacesetter is building in 28 communities in Edmonton and surrounding areas, offering products that range from townhomes to luxury attached garage homes. Over the years, they diversified their product line with a wider range of award-winning home designs, increased their market share and continued to put an increased emphasis on pleasing their customers. Pacesetter homeowners complete surveys that provide valuable feedback and opportunities for business growth and improvement.

“Surveying your customers really gets you in touch with people who don’t necessarily want to speak out sometimes. It gives that customer the opportunity to tell us what things they like, what they didn’t like,” Dumonceaux said. “We relish it. We want to embrace our customers’ opinions — it’s important to us.”

Pacesetter’s dedication to customer service is one of the reasons behind their newest venture — an online customer portal. Homebuyers will be able to log in and stay up to date on the progression of their home’s construction through photos, building updates and notices each time a milestone date is reached. The site will include drawings, change orders, and warranty documentation, and will even offer videos and tutorials on various topics like maintaining a sump pump or HRV system. The portal is expected to be operational by early summer 2015.

“The purpose of the customer portal is to drive a better experience for the customer,” Dumonceaux explained. “It ensures we have proper communication with customers throughout the build and post-construction, even in design and drafting, and design Q.”

Another exciting project for Pacesetter is poised to transform the look of some of Edmonton’s neighbourhoods this year. Their latest home plans will incorporate a new wide and shallow lot product designed to change the streetscape and create a unique look to the community. Not only does the design change the interior layout, but it will feature an upgraded exterior facade that sees the front door moved either flush or ahead of the garage, enhancing the home’s curb appeal. “That wide shallow look will be new to Edmonton; it will drive people to us,” Dumonceaux said. “In Edmonton we will undoubtedly have the first community of that nature.”

Layout and location are priorities for buyers

pacesetter-andor-master-ensuite“Whether opting for a traditional or modern look, layout continues to be a priority for homebuyers,” Dumonceaux explained. Location is another key factor in choosing a builder. Pacesetter has homes in 28 communities well-situated near Anthony Henday Drive, which allows buyers to move easily through the city and provides access to schools and other amenities. Plans are underway to offer buyers the option of installing solar panels. In one of their future subdivisions as an environmentally conscious alternative, the test project will allow homebuyers to incorporate solar electricity in their residences, something that is gaining popularity in the city.

Pacesetter is considered a large home builder, and rapid growth over the past few years has created a few challenges. One of those is finding an adequate supply of skilled labour and qualified employees, which are always in high demand in Alberta. Fortunately, Pacesetter works with a number of reliable trade partners who are key to the company’s success. “There are more than 3,000 parts in the average home and approximately 300 workers will play a role in building that home,” Dumonceaux said, which shows how important a role trade partners play in the construction industry. “We can’t succeed without their taking care to do quality work and even bringing innovative ideas to us.”

The company also prides itself on becoming an Employer of Choice by offering an excellent benefit program, and frequent recognition and rewards for its employees. Over the years, the company’s salespeople and home designs have received numerous awards. “Last year, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) named Pacesetter as the multi-family builder of the year,” Dumonceaux said. The company is a finalist in the 2014 CHBA National SAM Awards – Recognizing Canadian Housing Excellence in the “single detached home under 1,500 square feet” category.

pacesetter-victor-master-bedroomPacesetter is heavily involved in community projects, working with Habitat for Humanity to construct homes for families in need. Pacesetter employees and representatives from Qualico have all pitched in over the years to help build much-needed homes.

“I was there when they turned over the keys,” Dumonceaux said. “You see how emotional it is for the families and you can’t help but feel the same.”

Qualico is also participating in the production of Wellspring, a project to which Dumonceaux has contributed. Wellspring will be a support centre for cancer survivors and their families, helping them return to a “normal” life both during and after medical treatment. Qualico and its subsidiaries have a strong history of corporate social responsibility and work hard to give back to the community.

Ready to respond to changes in market

pacesetter-andor-great-roomThe home-building industry is highly competitive and staying on top of trends and technology can be crucial to success. Pacesetter watches the marketplace, staying flexible enough to adjust their practices and projections based on their collection of live data. They respond quickly to changes in supply and demand, and try to stay ahead of the curve with help from “a very forward-thinking management team”.

“We set ourselves apart from our competition by our drive to be the best,” Dumonceaux said. “We think we have better designs, better quality and better customer service. Our staff is motivated to see the company succeed and ensure that we remain innovative when challenged with any obstacle. We have a great staff that cares.”

The company is determined to keep its position as Edmonton’s largest homebuilder by continuing to offer outstanding quality, new and innovative designs and a high level of customer service.

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