They say entrepreneurs should expect two to three years before their start-up businesses begin turning a real profit. While that might be true for many new business owners, it certainly wasn’t the case for Zulq Malik and his Brampton, Ontario-based company, BECC Construction.
It’s been four years since Malik started his general contracting company, and it didn’t take all four to make a name for himself. By 2006, BECC Construction was already doing multimillion-dollar projects in the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) sectors, providing a variety of turnkey solutions— from design to construction delivery.
What’s his secret? “Luck,” Malik laughs. “In all seriousness, I believe it’s our commitment to achieve goals.”
He is probably right; commitment is a characteristic that is evident when you’re talking to Malik for any given time. In fact, he said he had wanted to own his own company 10 years prior to ever acting on it. With his eye on the prize, Malik spent a decade in the construction industry, patiently build-ing experience and waiting for the right moment to step out on his own.
“In 2005, we decided to take a leap forward with the business plan for BECC Construction,” he says. “I had gained the experience that I wanted to acquire, working for different employers along the way. When I built enough confidence in my ability to run a company, I took a chance.” The result: “So far, so good,” he says, modestly.
Giving credit where it’s due
Responsible for Malik’s modesty is his understanding of team value. As he grew the company, he quickly realised his need for support from others. “When you start off with the idea, it’s only a vision,” Malik maintains. “But when you are working to fulfill that vision, you need people to help you; it’s not a one-man routine. BECC Construction developed into something real due to the support of many people, and I attribute the company’s success to everyone involved.”
When Malik says ‘everyone involved’, he doesn’t just mean his 17 employees; he means everyone.
“I don’t take credit for everything that everyone else does to make it happen. That includes the guys who are employed with us and our subcontractors who aren’t direct employees. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to deliver our product, and our clients wouldn’t be happy.”
If clients weren’t happy, BECC Construction wouldn’t be achieving its number-one priority, which aims to do one-better than ‘satisfied’, says Malik. “Satisfied is the bare minimum.”
It usually follows that if you treat your employees right, they will treat the clients right. This is a piece of wisdom that the BECC Construction seems to adhere to, which is likely why Malik holds his partners in such high regard. The company ensures each contractor and subcontractor is treated fairly and is compensated properly for their work, especially when it comes to real expertise. So far, the philosophy is working. Just look at the quality of BECC Construction’s work.
In such a short time, BECC has not only made a positive impression on the ICI general contracting industry, but it has managed to carve out a niche in transportation facilities.
Naturally, Malik is thrilled with all the projects BECC Construction has completed, but he admits he is extremely proud of the work the company is doing with local airports. “We are excited about the first phase of the expansion on the island airport, Porter Airlines,” he says.
For those who are unfamiliar, Porter Airlines is a new flight service headquartered at the Toronto City Centre Airport (TCCA) on Toronto Island. What makes Porter so exciting is its downtown location, making it easily accessible for both business and just-for-the-weekend trips.
BECC Construction helped to expand the airport to serve new markets in North America. Together with Scott Associates Architects, BECC Construction increased the facility by 22,000 square feet with five new gates. The project also involved adding facilities required by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) to process customs and immigration for inbound passengers. Completed earlier last year, the project totalled $3.3 million.
The company was chosen for the Porter Airlines project because of its experience with the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) at the Toronto Pearson International Airport.
“The GTAA project is for Terminal 3, where we have done an extensive renovation and retrofit to create a new trans-border customs and immigration area,” says Malik. “The renovation allows low-risk flights to clear through customs, without going to the other end of the terminal. It is designed to process more international travellers at a faster pace. It’s a great project, and it is just near completion. To date, the GTAA terminal has been our largest, coming in at around $20 million. To put it in perspective, Porter Airlines is a seventh of what we did for the GTAA.”
In addition to the airport construction, BECC has also been involved with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), Public Works Canada, the City of Brampton and HealthWithCare, to name a few.
BECC Construction has more work to look forward to, especially with the federal stimulus funds coming down the pipe. Since Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s announcement in January 2009, the $12 billion for infrastructure hasn’t trickled down yet, but when it does, BECC will be ready.
“I like to think we’ll benefit from the stimulus package,” says Malik, optimistically. “At this point, we haven’t seen any funds, but we’re looking forward to seeing what can happen. Right now, the money attributed to building construction is still at a preliminary, design stage, and they haven’t gone to full-fledge construction yet. We’re hoping that by the second or third quarter of 2010, that money will be in the system so we can get real construction projects.”
If Malik can take a start-up company and make it this successful in only four years, just think about where BECC Construction will be years from now, as it claims more and more market share. Malik seemed excited at the idea of the company’s future, as well as confident of the its expansion in Toronto and maybe elsewhere.
Of course, he’s taking it day by day, maintaining a steady level of growth by increasing customer satisfaction, building relationships and, hopefully, garnering repeat business. Down the road, Malik sees his company as a midsize general contractor. More than that, however, he sees BECC Construction as an employee-owned firm. “I believe it’s a great way to go,” says Malik. It’s not surprising that he wants to give back to his staff, as employee-ownership tends to increase productivity, profitability and dedication. It all goes back to the beginning of the company when Malik committed to treating his people right. His philosophy worked, and when something works, you have to run with it.
To find out more about BECC Construction, visit their website at www.thebeccgroup.com.