Building on ideas

AUBI, short for Agri-Urban Buildings Inc., was founded in 1974 as a design-build company that specialized in commercial, industrial and agricultural building of all kinds. Since then, AUBI has designed and constructed buildings throughout south-western Ontario, only now their offerings are broader. Not only have they expanded their list to include institutional and recreational buildings, but the company now incorporates a range services, such as site planning, engineering, project management and construction maintenance.  

Due diligence
As members of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) and the Canadian Construction Association (CCA), AUBI makes sure they are up to date with all industry trends.

The CaGBC is an association dedicated to transforming the built environment to create buildings and communities that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy. The CaGBC is tied very closely to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), in which AUBI staff are getting their certification. “We care about our environment and want to do our part to reduce greenhouse gases,” says Rodger Curran, President and CEO. “AUBI will do all we can to support this system.”  

The CCA represents the national and international interests of the Canadian construction industry, working to raise awareness and improve conditions. This association developed its own Gold Seal Program which is a national certification program for construction project managers. “All of our site supervisors, sales guys and estimators are Gold Seal-certified with the Canadian Construction Association,” says Curran. “It’s based on experience, education and ability. It gives us a nationally recognized level of competence and experience.”

Certification is something you don’t technically have to have in the construction industry, but AUBI believes in doing its due diligence. Besides, the way the industry is headed, the bigger contracts are often the ones looking for the contractors who have recognized training under their belt.

“If you want to play with the big boys you have to look like a big boy,” laughs Curran. “All of the majors are getting into the certification because their projects demand it. A lot of the projects we do don’t demand it, but we want to be ready for the projects that do. That’s why we’re getting prequalified.”

Further showing their commitment to quality building, AUBI is an official dealer of Robertson Building Systems, which are engineer-certified to meet the structural provisions of the National Building Code of Canada. This partnership minimizes delays when it’s time to get permits and building approvals.  Robertson carefully selects qualified independent design-build contractors to partner with them, so an Authorized Robertson Builder is a true construction professional.

Health & Safety
Protection from accidents and injuries is a continuing objective in the entire construction industry and AUBI is no different. The company is vitally interested in the safety of its employees. “We have a full-time Safety Coordinator and Jobsite Safety Inspector,” says Curran. “They make sure all precautions are in place and can shut a job down if they don’t like what they see.”

To show they are serious about safety, AUBI developed a policy to maintain an effective program. For them, safety starts at the top. It’s not just the worker who has to look out for himself. Supervisors are also responsible for the health and safety of their workers, including safe equipment, safe practices and adequate training for each task.

Outstanding Projects
Because AUBI works in a variety of sectors and cities, you’re bound to recognise at least one of their projects in southern Ontario. If you asked Curran which one he is proudest of, you wouldn’t get a clear answer. To him, all of his projects are high-quality buildings. “Our team works diligently on everything they touch, so how could I pick just one?”

A sample of projects that appear in AUBI’s portfolio are Ridgetown College in Guelph, where they constructed classrooms, offices, lecture halls and a gymnasium; the KOK Ford dealership, with in-floor radiant heat; and the Honda House, featuring a 12,000 sq ft addition to the dealership building. “These are nice projects because people know the buildings,” Curran says. “We promote the stuff people recognise.”

New tools of the trade
AUBI prides itself on delivering the newest solutions in the building industry, that’s why clients get to see their project long before construction ever begins. By providing photo-realistic renderings and I-Select material selection systems, AUBI makes it easy to conceptualise any project. The company has software that allows clients to choose from various colours of siding, cladding, roofing and blocks, as well as the preferred materials for each selection. Both interiors and exteriors can be produced to see how everything will come together.  

“You can get a lot done online that you never could before,” says Curran. “It used to be that you would drive around with swatches and sketches, going to all these meetings, but now it’s not really necessary. We still meet with clients in person, but we definitely take advantage of the technology that is available to us.”    
As far as the economic downturn goes, AUBI is doing about as well as everyone else is. Business is down because people are putting projects off. “If projects are out there, we’ll do them,” says Curran, “but a lot of people have put them off until 2010. And it’s late in the year so people don’t want to start new things now—they will wait until spring. Fortunately, we have a lot lined up for next spring, but things have to improve. If they stay the same, it will be spring 2011.”
Having said all that, AUBI’s goal is to survive the year, something that Rodger Curran is confident they’ll be able to do. “After it blows over, we are looking at growing the company,” he says. “We’ve had steady growth since I bought the company 12 years ago and we’ll continue to do that. We want to continue to expand profitably, add people, increase our services in niche markets and educate our people, so when the recession ends, we’re ready to go.
Increasing services includes moving further into construction management, which means coming in at the design phase rather than after it. “We’ve set ourselves up so we can do that,” adds Curran. “We’ve done a couple projects now that way. It tends to work better than the tender process. Customers get a better product in the end and the process with construction management is easier. We have started to sit down and explain that to people, because it makes sense that the customer becomes involved. The more that happens in the boardroom, the more that gets done on the site. Less hassles. Less litigation. Everyone is on the same page before you put a shovel in the ground.”

AUBI sees construction management becoming more common in the future. If it does, they have an advantage of 35 years of building solid relationships and the breadth of knowledge and skill to accomplish any project set before them.

Missions Statement
We are dedicated in maintaining our position as the premier builder in our marketplace by…
•    Consistently meeting and exceeding each customer’s expectations for product quality, service dependability and effective communication    
•    Providing competitive and superior value to customers by continually improving the performance of our business
•    Resulting in long-term customer relationships along with significant competitive advantages, fulfilling careers and the achievement of reasonable profit


Project Management  

•    Product management from concept to completion
•    Project scope development
•    Design development and coordination
•    Project cost planning and scheduling
•    Tendering
•    Contract administration
•    Contract change management
•    Project close-out and commissioning

Planning and Scheduling

•    Master schedule development
•    Monitoring approval milestones
•    Coordinating schedules

Budgeting and Cost Control
Team Selection
Site Selection Analysis

•    Suitability of proposed site based on:

•    Cost
•    Topography
•    Soils
•    Subterranean water conditions
•    Adjacent site impacts
•    Zoning
•    Potential for expansion

Constructability Review
Scope Development
Project Tendering
Project Closeout
Post Construction