Fulfilling contracting needs for nearly 30 years

The RAFAT Group of Companies of Bolton, Ontario was founded by Carlo Salim in 1988 and since then has continued to expand upon its sound reputation within the construction industry for providing outstanding all-inclusive services for client needs of all sizes. Salim still runs daily operations in the role of president.

The Canadian Business Journal recently spoke with Bashar Mikha, Vice President at the RAFAT Group of Companies. With a background in civil engineering, Mikha joined the company in 2001.

“We do general contracting work that includes demolishing and excavation of concrete and snow removal plus we have a landscaping division,” begins Mikha.

Many of the 350 staff members at RAFAT have been long-tenured employees, which is a testament to the positive work environment and the success the company has had for nearly 30 years in business. Seven of the company’s foremen have been with RAFAT for more than 20 years while a number of others have advanced from being general labourers to become carpenters and operators.

RAFAT provides a wide range of construction services with a wide geographic range, from Niagara in the south out to Waterloo, all of the Greater Toronto Area and north to Barrie. Each RAFAT project is taken on with a mandate to exceed customer expectations.

“Right now we are working on two major road-widening jobs in the City of Brampton,” says Mikha. “We are also working on an eight-story forming building for succession development of retirement homes.”

Other notable projects include the demolition of a large high-rise building in downtown Toronto and the excavation and forming for a Costco building in Stoney Creek. RAFAT was also responsible for the forming, grading and excavation for a 1 million square foot Costco warehouse building north of Toronto.

For the past five years RAFAT has been receiving contracts from the City of Toronto to handle the maintenance for curbs and sidewalks. If there is emergency work to be done – even in the middle of the night – whether its’ a problem with one of the bridges or a water-main problem, the City of Toronto will call, and Mikhar assures that the RAFAT team will be there to properly expedite the cleanup.

In addition to large public jobs, RAFAT takes on many private jobs with different contractors, often handling the work with condominiums and townhomes. RAFAT is a company that has developed an excellent reputation and will always stand behind the promises made to clients that the work will be done on time, with the highest quality of standards and on budget.

“What people really like about RAFAT is that we can handle a wide variety of jobs. We do the excavation and the forming, so two companies are not required to do each one separately. This eliminates the possibility of arguments erupting between two or more entities if there is a problem onsite. There is no blame game. We provide full site service – underground, grading and forming to be ready for the structure,” explains Mikha.

First and foremost on the minds of the executives and all team members at RAFAT is the need to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for clients and employees. The company operates in a reliable and efficient manner with heavy equipment service and repair centre, truck wash and parts depot.

“We have a health and safety manager on staff who takes care of all the safety issues,” confirms Mikha.

Before any new employee starts working at RAFAT they must have all the proper certificates including one from Ontario Health and Safety and they must also go through the RAFAT orientation for safety. There are also specific certificates required for working on tall buildings and traffic control.

For young people that may be considering a career in the construction industry, Mikha says now is an excellent time to jump in. “Construction never stops. Every year we say perhaps this is the year it slows down, but it always gets more and more busy,” he laughs.

All of RAFAT’s managers and supervisors are skilled tradesmen who work closely with the client to ensure the best outcome on every project.

“We take great pride in our work and provide our clients with excellent, high-quality work at a reasonable price coupled with outstanding customer service,” says Mikha.

New technology also provides a tremendous aid in making the jobs much more accurate and faster, especially for the excavation process where RAFAT personnel use GPS systems on the machines.

Mikha says RAFAT is also totally committed to doing its part when it comes to following strict environmental regulations within the industry.

“In the old days you could demolish a structure and it would just go in the garbage and then to the dump. Now, even before we begin the demolition we follow a waste management plan that shows what we are going to do with all the waste material – what goes to the landfill and what goes to a recycling plant. We have to achieve at least 80% of the material has to be at a recycling facility,” says Mikha.

Employees at RAFAT are busy 12 months of the year. With new technology, it is now possible to pour concrete even in the cold, dark winter months. However, when slowdowns occur during winter there are other projects to take on, including snow removal.

“We have three major contracts with Mississauga, Richmond Hill and Keswick and several private plazas in Vaughn. There is always something to do in the winter as well,” says Mikha.

Now that RAFAT has entered into municipal road-widening projects, the next natural step for the company is to work on major highway improvements with the Ministry of Transportation.

Right now we are between $60 million and $70 million every year. We would like to reach $100 million in work each year,” reveals Mikha. “We have excellent supervisors, foremen and labourers. We know we can build the company even larger than it is right now.”