Canadian Design and Construction Report special feature
Aquicon Construction Co. Ltd. has grown from the passion and dedication of two brothers, Mario and Frank Aquino, to create their own construction enterprise, into one of Canada’s top general contractors with almost $3 billion in projects completed to date.
Today, second generation Daniel Aquino sits at the helm as the company’s president after a 2014 management restructuring brought the company wholly into the hands of him and his father Mario. Through expertise and skills acquired from working his way through the ranks and taking on previous roles as project manager and vice president of operations, Aquino continues to strive for growth and development opportunities while maintaining the partnering approach that has become synonymous with the Aquicon Construction name.
Aquino says Frank and Mario applied a hands-on approach to each project, beginning with many of the GTA’s elementary and secondary schools. “Although the operations and staff expanded during those first 10 years, as more projects were taken on, Mario and Frank ensured that the quality of Aquicon Construction’s facilities remained to their highest expectations.”
When Aquicon Construction began, he says, the industry was laden with general contractors. Mario and Frank however stood out because they were firm believers that “partnering” with clients, consultants and sub-trades would result in expertise sharing between all project team members and ultimately a higher quality finish than what was being offered in the industry.
“Staying true to this approach, the company built an esteemed reputation in the industry and was chosen by clients to take on projects of increasing complexity.”
Aquino says the company also built strong relationships with sub-trades. This translated into stronger pricing on projects that would help pave the way for more complex projects Aquicon Construction Co. Ltd. thrives through growth, diversification and partnering with clients and sub-trades Canada’s TOP Contractors The Canadian Design and Construction Report — January 2016 – 39 down the road. “Before venturing into new markets, our senior members would focus on their understanding of the market and ensure that Aquicon Construction could continue to provide the same high quality we are renowned for.”
In executing on any construction delivery method – stipulated sum, design-build, construction management – strong relationships with trade people and suppliers aids in the support of the project, he says, in maintaining timelines, and ensuring top quality is maintained. “As an organization, our senior staff have always been focused on ensuring these relationships are maintained at their highest level through consistent payments, fair treatment, honesty and integrity.”
While schools made up a large part of the company’s work during the early years, over time Aquicon has worked in virtually every segment of government funded (public) projects – educational, recreational, transportation, post-secondary, operation centres and more. He says this slow but steady progression has allowed the company to adapt and diversify through several market changes over the decades.
Aquino says earning clients’ trust and understanding the different markets has allowed the company to expand its boundaries from the Greater Toronto market to the entire province. “Aquicon Construction recently completed the Atlas Tube Centre in Lakeshore, Ontario,” he said. “This multiple award winning facility is the largest of its kind in Essex County near the Windsor Corridor.”
“Our clients have a very high level of trust in dealing with Aquicon Construction. They know that no matter the situation or issue that may arise, our principals will have their best interests in mind.”
The company has also bolstered its portfolio undertaking projects for new clients such as McMaster University, the University of Guelph and the City of London.
Thriving in a growing and evolving market, companies must follow suit. Aquino says Aquicon Construction continues to invest and to refine its staff and methodology to engage into new and exciting projects, while ensuring that the fundamentals will not change.
“For example, seeing the rise of LEED construction after the turn of the century, we developed our in-house staff of project managers and co-ordinators to educate them in LEED practices and to equip us with the knowledge to undertake LEED certified projects.”
Since its inception, Aquicon Construction has built more than 300 structures in Ontario. One notable example, says Aquino, is the Vale Health & Wellness Centre, a $32 million state-of-the-art facility for sport, recreation, health, wellness, entertainment and commerce all under one roof. “This is the first of its kind in the Niagara region. Developed in partnership with the City of Port Colborne and the YMCA, the facility boasts two NHL-sized ice pads, an aquatic centre, triple gymnasia with an all-season jogging track and six outdoor bocce courts amongst other amenities.”
Aquino says the facility was developed with a strong emphasis on energy efficiency, subsequently achieving LEED Gold certification from the Canada Green Building Council in 2013.
Aquicon also partnered with Niagara College as construction managers for the school’s new Applied Health Institute. The 90,000 sq. ft. institute features state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories, and provides a new home for all of the college’s applied health programs under one roof.
“The project was a huge success for Niagara College and was completed on time and under budget, meeting stringent federal funding requirements and timelines. From the start of the project, Aquicon took a very hands-on approach, providing construction guidance to the design team before the construction drawings were completed.”
For long time client the City of Brampton, Aquicon Construction constructed the Brampton Transit Sandalwood Bus Facility in 2008. Aquino says this 300,000 sq. ft. transit hub is at the heart of the city’s transit infrastructure and is used to service the Brampton Transit vehicles.
“Again in 2015, Aquicon Construction has been contracted to construct another two-storey operations and maintenance facility for the City of Brampton that will reside on approximately seven hectares on Williams Parkway. Once complete, the new facility is expected to be certified LEED Gold by the Canadian Green Building Council.”
Aquicon Construction has a full in-house health and safety department with a COR-certified manager to ensure the highest safety measures and latest methodologies are employed on site operations for the benefit of clients, sub-trades and Aquicon’s own staff.
Similar to its external relationship building, Aquicon applies a similar focus and dedication to relationships internally between individuals and departments. “A lot of companies promote themselves as being a family but Aquicon Construction is truly an embodiment of the ”family company” culture.”
Aquino says the company has one of the best employee retention rates in the industry with many staff who began their careers with the company and have since grown into senior positions, refining their respective skills along the way. “Going forward, we will add staff who are experts in their respective disciplines, but especially those who can adopt to Aquicon’s approach and methodology that we have refined over the decades.”
As the company continues to expand, Aquino says one of the main focuses is to ensure that it maintains the fundamentals that got Aquicon Construction to where it is today. “
As any company develops, we know there will be transition periods or periods of change,” he said. “Aquicon Construction is focusing on developing the new generation of industry professionals through programs with several universities and colleges, ensuring that as we continue to grow, we are developing individuals who will carry on the tradition of our firm.”
The company is continually looking ahead to adding new staff as opportunities arise, he says, instead of doing so when the workload demands.
For more information, visit www.aquicon.com.