Hands-On Help: Aquicon Has Made Its Name By Rolling Up Its Sleeve

By Construction Today
October 5, 2014

Construction, by its nature, is a hands-on business, and any contractor worth anything knows there’s no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. That has been the guiding principle for Ontario-based Aquicon Construction, and President Daniel Aquino says the company owes its strong reputation throughout the province to its willingness to get involved for its customers.

“I think the biggest thing is, whether it was when we started 30 years ago or today, we are very hands-on and very involved,” Aquino says. “I think that’s a big key for our clients, that we’re involved in every project.”

Founded 30 years ago, Aquicon Construction has grown steadily over the years into one of the most accomplished general contractors in Ontario. The company’s portfolio contains more than 300 successful projects in multiple sectors, although the core of the company’s business is focused on building public administration and educational facilities. Aquino says these primarily consist of schools, university buildings, churches and libraries, but Aquicon Construction also has developed a strong niche in one particular type of public building.

“I consider our specialty – our bread and butter – to be community centers,” Aquino says, noting that few contractors in Ontario specialize in such projects. No matter what type of project the company builds, however, Aquicon Construction succeeds by delivering the same level of focus and involvement for its customers. Even as the market in Ontario continues to change, Aquino says Aquicon Construction has the pieces in place to maintain its leadership position.

“I think the biggest thing is, whether it was when we started 30 years ago or today, we are very hands-on and very involved.”

Daniel Aquino, President, Aquicon Construction

Partnership Philosophy

Aquicon Construction’s hands-on approach to contracting is exemplified by the company’s “partnering” philosophy, which is ingrained in everything it does. The company says that by solving problems collaboratively with architects and other project partners, it can avoid some of the most common headaches on a construction site and deliver a successful project. “Using this model, Aquicon has achieved tremendous success on stipulated sum contracts, which are typically adversarial,” the company explains. “Projects have been completed ahead of schedule and within the established budgets.”

Aquino says another significant advantage for Aquicon Construction is that its staff has remained relatively stable for the last 25-plus years. The company has experienced very little turnover compared to the rest of the construction industry, and the fact that some of its key people have been with Aquicon Construction for 25 years or more has been crucial in building long-lasting relationships with customers.

More Desing/Build

Aquicon Construction has seen a lot of changes in the Ontario construction market over the years, and one of the biggest recent changes to take place has been the rise of the design/build or design/build/finance models. The company has started getting involved in these types of projects over the last few years, and has had to make some adjustments to its approach to accommodate that trend. “That right now has been the biggest change for us,” he says.

Aquicon Construction also has sought out and hired professionals who have more business and design expertise to help it develop proposals and presentations that satisfy customers looking for the design/build approach. “Design/build services offered by Aquicon compliment our construction management and general contracting,” the company says. “A well-designed, professional approach enhances our design/build model. Projects large or small will profit from our engineering professionals, budget and cost control, and our management procedure.”

Ramping Up

Government projects make up a substantial portion of the work performed by Aquicon, and in the last few years the global recession has put the brakes on many of those projects in Ontario, Aquino says. Fortunately, the company’s diverse experience in other sectors such as education, churches and transportation has helped the company maintain the same level of activity despite the sluggish recovery in government and infrastructure projects. Aquino says Aquicon Construction also has been working to establish itself in new markets to serve an even broader base of customers.

There are signs that the malaise in the government sector is beginning to lift, however. Aquino says the company is seeing infrastructure spending start to rise at a steady pace, and that is spreading throughout the province. Smaller towns are starting to put projects up for bid again, and many of these projects are larger than those built several years ago. Aquino says this is because many towns are combining smaller projects put on hold during the recession into larger multi-use facilities. As these projects continue to emerge, owners will need a contractor that can take a hands-on approach to the work, and that’s where Aquicon Construction expects to find greater success in the near future.

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