The Best 10 Hardware Stores In Drayton, Oxfordshire – Joe Lavoie of Inuvik saw an increase in business during the pandemic as homeowners came to his hardware store to buy materials for renovations. But this trend has died down and the opportunities that await him in 2022 do not seem to be many, he says. For more stories on NWT and Nunavut construction projects, click here: https:///special-feature-publications/special-feature-pdfs/northern-construction-2022 Eric Bowling/ photo
It’s been two tumultuous pandemic years for many in the northern construction industry, and the future looks promising, depending on who you look to.
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For Joe Lavoie, co-owner of Home Hardware in Inuvik, there were some temporary improvements after Covid-19 hit. Beaufort-Delta homeowners invested money in home improvements that would normally go toward travel, recreation, and other entertainment.
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“It’s been relatively quiet this new year,” he said in mid-April. “I think people have done a lot of work (on their homes) that they planned to do … and that can be because you have significant material costs.”
Although the price of lumber soared for a while and then leveled off, Lavoie noted that gasoline prices have risen steadily, resulting in a significant increase in transportation costs for those ordering construction materials.
“For us, to bring in a truckload of lumber, you’re looking at an extra $16,000 to $17,000,” he said. “It’s a big difference.”
Even as the private sector cuts budgets, there are government projects that still need to be completed. But even they are fewer than before and there is no guarantee of a winning bid in a competitive process, noted Lavoie, who has done business in Inuvik for 30 years.
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“It’s quieter than it’s been in the last two to three years,” he said, adding that he employs 15 to 20 people through his store.
And yet his expenses have soared after a winter of long spells of bitterly cold weather. He said the heating and electricity bills were inflated because of this.
“It was six weeks of maybe 40 (C) below,” he said. “Heating is very expensive. On average, it’s 10 times what you pay in the south.”
In Nunavut, one of the difficulties construction contractors face is procurement time in the face of ongoing supply chain issues, especially when so much has to be coordinated to arrive at a limited number of transport vessels.
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“A lot of companies are really concerned about this,” said Clarence Synard, president and CEO of NCC Investment Group, which has a construction division.
“A major contributing factor to the housing crisis we’re in (Nunavut) is the high cost of construction,” said Clarence Synard, president and CEO of NCC Investment Group. “Seeing a market that’s already tight, I think it’s going to feel tighter, it really does.” Photo courtesy of Clarence Synard
He gave an example of a three-month delay – not only could this create complications for other projects, but there could be issues related to additional financing costs and additional insurance payments. In addition, interest rates are moving upwards.
“The numbers just keep going up,” Synard said. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of support systems out there for that kind of scenario … it’s a really tough time.”
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With some building materials costing three to four times what they were before the pandemic, that doesn’t bode well for a territory already facing a housing crisis, according to Synard, who is also president of the Baffin Regional Chamber. Trade.
“A big contributing factor to the housing crisis we’re in in the area is the high cost of construction,” he said. “Seeing a market that’s already tight, I think it’s going to feel tighter, it really does.”
On the bright side, volumes of work and opportunities are increasing significantly. But finding specialized labor is another big challenge, especially in the north “when you have so many competing sectors fighting for the same pool of work,” Synard added.
In Yellowknife, Trevor Kasteel, CEO of Kasteel Construction and Coatings, has endured a tough few years. At one point, he spoke candidly to his staff of about 50 during a meeting, informing them that the company was behind last year’s pace by $711,000. He refused to fire anyone because they are like family and they helped the rally company.
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With rising costs and supply chain issues, “You just have to be careful. You have to be on top of everything. I think you really have to provide good leadership, clear leadership, strong leadership, positive leadership, communicate extremely well,” says Trevor Kasteel, CEO of Kasteel Construction and Coatings in Yellowknife. file photo
“When times get tough, you just don’t give up on people,” he said. “But then I said (to the staff), ‘We’ve taken care of everybody, but oh my God, I need your help to get out of this hole’.” We were positive at the end of the year.
“As a business, you have to adapt to the environment,” he said. “It’s also your positivity as a business and the relationships you build.”
Kasteel has formed partnerships with other companies in the North to address labor shortages by agreeing to borrow and lend employees to projects as circumstances require. He sees the southern labor market as a last resort. It also aims to educate the local population.
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“There’s a lot of people hurting out there, a lot of people having a hard time,” he said. “It’s just showing compassion and helping people grow. It doesn’t have to be about ourselves. It’s just being caring and kind and opening a door for others.”
He acknowledges supply chain hurdles and the challenges of bidding on projects where construction won’t begin for another year — so the cost increases in the interim are ones his company will have to absorb later.
“You just have to be careful. You have to be on top of everything. I think you really have to provide good leadership, clear leadership, strong leadership, positive leadership, communicate extremely well,” he said. “Everybody has to do their best … stay positive, stay humble and stay thoughtful.”
Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When not writing for Nunavut News, he works on Northern News Service specialty publications such as Opportunities North, … More by Derek Neary
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