By Stu Lynam | Photos Kevin Williamson
Utilizing over 40 years of experience and expert knowledge, Chris Gariepy is able to operate his consultancy business exclusively through referral and word-of-mouth to help his clients achieve their goals in the competitive construction industry.
It’s not often you hear about a business thriving without advertising, and we had to ask how he even came up with the concept.
“When I finished school, I joined our family business, working with my brothers and father, primarily in the concrete block, brick and masonry industries. Over time our business evolved to offering a full range of building materials. Throughout my career, I learned and listened to a lot of great people; fast forward to today, because of the building knowledge and relationships I developed through my career, I now operate a professional consulting business. We offer a viable solution for people to get their own projects built competitively and with as little grief as possible.” Sounds simple enough, as most great ideas do. Yet, when we learn about the extent of the services Chris provides, you’ll understand why his expertise is in such high demand.
“Often, people will come to me at different stages of a project, either residential or industrial/commercial, with nothing more than an idea and we work together to determine how best to achieve it. My services can range from (but are not limited to) recommending a designer, developing proposals, recommending and undergoing due diligence of subtrades and prime contractors, project inspection, assuming a project management role or applying for permits. Other related services include builder mediation and expert witness services. But ultimately, my clients make all the decisions; I’m there to guide and advise and lay out possible outcomes. I help clients make better decisions at the outset, which saves money and limits frustrations with their project.” Long term is a phrase that applies to many aspects of Chris’ career, both in the relationships he’s built, and the time he has put in to grow his business. Yet four decades is a long time to be focused on one industry.
What has kept him invested? “Frankly, I don’t know of anyone who is doing what I do, or of anyone who has broad enough experience in the construction business or been in it long enough to have gained the level of knowledge to do it. I love the construction industry, and finding this way of monetizing expertise, working with great people and being able to continue to work in construction, that keeps me motivated.”
Business alone, no matter how prosperous, can’t sustain one forever. And while Chris has been devoted to his craft, he’s been equally generous with his commitment to philanthropy. He’s been a volunteer with Georgian College, long time Rotary member and a Board Chair with RVH, to name a few. He’s enthusiastic as we discuss his motivation for volunteerism. “Without volunteers, a lot of vital organizations, like RVH, would have difficulty filling these roles. I consider volunteerism a responsibility of everyone. What I love about the work I’ve done with all of those organizations, both as a volunteer and in leadership roles, is that I have learned so much from people. It’s more than giving your time; when you volunteer you can really get a lot of satisfaction and it can be extremely rewarding.”
Despite being a solo entrepreneur, Chris hasn’t evolved from a part-time worker out of school, to the prosperous business owner he is now. We’re interested in the people who helped him along the way. “My wife and family have been tremendous in their support. I could not have achieved what I have, without their backing. I had many evening and weekend meetings that took away from our family time. A lot of my volunteerism followed in the footsteps of my father, who led by example; he was really the impetus for me to volunteer in this community.”
On a completely different vein, Chris also offers governance training for Not-For-Profit Boards in this region. He has studied and trained in this work as a personal passion. “Often Boards of Directors struggle to understand their roles as Board members. I help them to focus their efforts on the work of the Board as opposed to the work of the organization.”
I impose on Chris a little as we wrap up; even though he’s built a career on professional consultation, I ask for one piece of advice (on the house) that he would give to aspiring entrepreneurs. “It is really helpful to start at the bottom, to understand the business and work your way up, there’s no better way.”
If you’d like to spend a bit of time understanding how Chris can help your project, don’t hesitate to reach out for a coffee at firstname.lastname@example.org