Taplen Construction has built or renovated a multitude of buildings in the Eastern Ontario region. They’ve consistently managed relationships with trade subcontractors and material providers to help them provide comprehensive construction services to their public and private project owners in the industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) sectors. Taplen works diligently and intelligently to deliver their projects within the established budget and schedule, which is part of their competitive advantage. “Our ability to deliver on-time and on-budget, and our long-standing reputation, those factors always help us win and keep business” says Taplen President Michael Assal. The company encourages clients to be part of the construction team, making the construction process an inclusive and dynamic one. By directly engaging the client, the consultants, and other stakeholders in the project, the company is able to quickly identify and solve any issues that arise on the project, and also leverages the ability to explore opportunities for change.
Of course, like any business operating in the public eye, construction brings its challenges. But Assal says that Taplen often will engage the affected external stakeholders to make sure they are developing positive relationships with the community. As a General Contractor or Construction Manager, “we don’t have as much involvement in the planning and permitting process of projects, but we are the ones who often have to deal with the public if they are affected during construction. Everybody ‘hates’ the temporary inconvenience that comes with construction. So there is some level of public expectation management that our firm must undertake. But we always respect the public, and try to get to know our neighbours during a project. We try to deal with any issues on the spot if we can” Assal assures.
Taplen has in recent years been successful in securing more private projects in commercial construction to compliment the public-based work. “We continue to develop relationships with private developers, which takes time, but we need to be in that space more than ever before. This is something I’ve worked on since joining Taplen in 2005. We want to ensure that we have a healthy diversification of private and public projects” Assal says.
Openness to innovation
Assal says that “Taplen is open to using innovative technologies, and is already experienced in the use of light-gauge steel frame panels, super-insulated wall assemblies, and geothermal heating and cooling systems.” Not surprisingly, Taplen has been recognized in the region for using green building innovations. Assal has a background in construction in Europe, which he says has influenced his affinity for efficient design. “I started my career in Germany. Europe has always led the way in efficient environmental design and construction by way of progressively raising the performance requirements of buildings.
Awareness regarding the environmental impact of building and operating our built environment is ascendant and we can expect to see more energy efficient design requirements get into our building code here in Canada. Public demand is already pushing designers and manufacturers to deliver environmentally sustainable buildings and products, through LEED mandates and otherwise. I simply like seeing energy efficient design in construction – in particular, focusing on the design of the building envelope, windows, and the heating cooling equipment. If you get those things right, that’s a huge part of achieving an energy efficient building.” Assal continues: “Even 10 years ago, the environmental aspects of building were not an essential consideration for building owners, things were simply much different. Owners today are much more cognisant and are more willing to consider the longer-term life cycle impact of their buildings, while still making a profit.“
Taplen’s staff are the key to the success of the business. The team of construction professionals at Taplen are collectively dedicated to successful execution of every project – public or private. Being located in Ottawa has helped Taplen keep a steady flow of work going into the current recession. Initial indications are that the prevalence of governmental employment and agencies in the region will contribute to generate a reasonable number of public and private projects. “We do not try and compete with larger firms for work on large project, but prefer to pursue small-to-medium sized projects” says Assal. Taplen has enough work to keep Assal’s lean staff, about 14 full-time employees, on their toes. His staff are dedicated and hard-working, and he says he considers them to be “like my second family”. Assal wants to continually develop his employees, because not only is it good for business, it’s simply just better management. “It’s like old school versus new school management. It’s beneficial for them to increase their personal productivity by engaging in professional development” says Assal. “We have regular staff meetings, and set personal goals together to support the business goals. These initiatives are drawn from the larger corporate realm but are just as important to small firms like ours” he adds.
“One of our biggest areas of risk and effort is managing project safety. We’ve come a long way in the last three years. It is an ongoing effort that will never end and we keep training, inspecting, and making sure the awareness is there” Assal explains. He says that not only is the Taplen staff concerned about safety, but he wants safety to be ingrained in day-to-day life: “It’s not about rule following, it’s about adopting policies and procedures, so people will learn them, follow them, and live them”.
Assal maintains that going forward Taplen business will need to ensure the same quality and thoroughness of service is maintained or improved – even as the projects change and environmental and safety regulations shift. There is no doubt in his mind that the business will continue to prosper, because Taplen “is an innovative and experienced firm, with a high level of integrity”. That integrity, he says, emanates from the Taplen professionals, and the way they approach the work they do. “We don’t play games, we’re diligent, and we’re honest” he asserts.
This philosophy towards the Taplen business will surely carry the company for at least another 40 years. For more information on Taplen, visit www.taplenconstruction.com.