Bill Knight, founder and CEO of B&B Demolition, decided to start his company in 1999 after years of work in the construction and demolition industries. It was an offhand comment from a contractor, however, that sparked the philosophy that would lead his future company to success.
“I remember a contractor saying to me, if somebody would just create a company that was built on service, they would take over the world. That kind of resonated with me,” Knight explains. “I looked around at the industry at the time and there were a lot of mom and pops; anybody with a sledgehammer and a Chevy truck called themselves a demolition contractor. I thought if I was going to do it I am going to do it right.”
And do it right he did. Today, B&B Demolition is a major player in Edmonton, and has expanded to include full structural demolition, work with the insurance industry, and precise preparation for historical restoration. Furthermore, it has truly set the standards for the industry. “We put a face to demolition,” says Knight. “It’s not a recognized trade like an electrician; we don’t have that status. So I set out to set standards that everybody else would look up to and catch up to.”
Setting the Standards
The standards are, quite simply, to provide the ultimate in customer service. “We’re a service-orientated company. When you hire a general contractor, for example, you get the full package. You get the safety foreman, you get the superintendent, the labours, the equipment operators; it’s the full package.” Knight noted that the formula had worked for general contractors, so he simply adopted that model and transferred it to demolition. When a customer hires B&B Demolition, they get a foreman with a full team to back them up, a field team with labourers, and so on.
“We’re pretty much an all-for-one company.” Knight elaborates on his statement. “Everyone here has a role that we need to fill in order to satisfy and service our customer. Whether it is a large or small project we don’t want you to know we were there when we’re finished — you could eat off the floor if you wanted.
Everything is taken care of.” B&B Demolition has set a very high standard for itself, and customers have come to expect and appreciate their way of doing business. “You can literally hire us and walk away and know your job is going to be done correctly the first time.”
Strength During Recession
If there is any testament to the true strength of a business, it is how it fared during the recession. In the case of B&B Demolition, 2009 — the peak of the economic slide — was actually a time of marked growth and improvement. “The recession actually allowed us to step ahead in the market,” Knight explains. “It allowed us to hire some really great people and to protect our service a little bit better so that when the recession ended our company just floated.”
It was during that time the company went from being a traditional commercial demolition company and expanded into an insurance division and a building division, while still maintaining its core business of commercial real estate. “Alberta is a good economy to be in so long as you have a great product and you’re good at what you do,” says Knight. “If that’s the case, you’re always going to have something to do.”
Projects of Note
It’s obvious in speaking with Knight that he is passionate and involved in his business. Some recent projects of note include a $1.2 million Edmonton Airport project, which took out the walkways that go across to the jet planes. It is also currently ripping down a building in the city centre called the Mayfield Inn. “As it’s an active hotel, there is lots of sensitivity around that because there are current guests,” says Knight. But this is something that B&B handles with ease. West Edmonton Mall is one of their biggest clients, and B&B was responsible for taking out the Drop of Doom ride from an active amusement park in what was North America’s largest mall at the time. Clearly, the company doesn’t balk in the face of a challenge.
Environmental Concerns and a Changing Industry
Environmental protection is of the utmost concern for B&B Demolition. “Years ago you would back up to a demo site, everything would go into a truck, and then everything would get dropped into a landfill. Today everything is different, and I think a lot of that is because of the leads we have taken,” says Knight with pride. “Last year we did a Target store in St. Albert where we recycled 78 per cent of the building. Our industry has changed completely. Environmental consciousness is front and centre. Now, we walk into a site and think about how we can convert most of the materials away from a landfill.”
It starts right in their own offices by practicing what they preach. “It’s simple things we do in our office, like having an organic box that provides locally grown foods to our staff. All of our estimators, safety, and training staff drive eco-friendly Smart Cars. Simple things like that resonate down to our field staff, they can see the office trying, and the staff buys into it very quickly.”
This attitude of learning and adapting to change is clearly what has helped grow a small operation into an industry leader. What does Knight think? “Our success is due to great team members along the way. They see that if they are dedicated to us, we are dedicated to them.” With a philosophy like that, the future of B&B Demolition looks bright indeed.