A pair of longtime fixtures on the Toronto construction scene is determined to prove that bigger is indeed better.
On Oct. 1, 2019, the York Group of Companies officially completed its acquisition of Rumble Foundations. The acquisition brought together two companies with more than a century of combined residential and commercial construction experience in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). In 1950, George Rumble launched his company, Rumble Foundations, and 13 years later, Santo Guizzetti and three partners started York Excavating and Grading.
As part of the acquisition, Rumble was rebranded York1. The company now provides shoring and foundation solutions as part of a full suite of services, including excavation, utility installation, underground services and telecommunications, directional drilling, demolition, abatement, reclamation, remediation, liquid waste and hydro excavation, solid waste processing and collection, and metal recycling.
Justin Sharp, president of infrastructure for York1, says joining forces allows the reimagined company to better serve its clients in the GTA and elsewhere since it can now serve as a one-stop shop.
“In the past, our clients would often have to deal with multiple companies for demolition, shoring and excavation services, which meant three separate contracts to manage. Now we can offer a single package instead. It basically gives them one general subcontractor to deal with rather than three,” Sharp said.
“From an owner’s perspective, that allows for coverage of certain scope gaps that can sometimes occur … where there might be bits and pieces where nobody’s got a certain aspect of the job covered. In this scenario, the owner can look to York1 to cover all aspects of the project without worrying about scope gaps.”
Sharp says one of the upsides to the shoring and foundation services is that it provides York1 with the resources it needs to expand its reach and attract new clients from outside the condo market it has primarily catered to.
“What we’ve done is created a fairly wide, vertically integrated company that can offer a range of services,” he said, adding that this will allow York1 to bring in clients who might not have considered the company prior to acquiring the foundation division.
Combining resources enables York1 to better tap into synergies within the company and find efficiencies that can be leveraged to help provide a better product and value to clients.
For now, York1 Shoring & Foundation’s primary focus will be on supporting excavation systems and other deep foundation projects, including drilling shafts and installing tiebacks. However, the company is looking to expand within the infrastructure market. It could soon begin offering other services, such as sheet piling and different types of ground improvements.
Sharp says one of the things that sets York1 apart from the competition is the fact that it’s been around longer than most and has developed a reputation for delivering quality performance and excellent service.
“Right now, our major differentiation is our experience, expertise and quality service,” he said. “We have an extremely good reputation for the systems that we put in place and how we execute them. That in and of itself is difficult to maintain with respect to the competition who are competing with you on price. But at the end of the day, the dollar rules, and if the clients don’t perceive the value in the quality of work you offer, then you are not necessarily going to get in there.”
While tried and true methods and products have been the linchpins of York1’s success, that doesn’t mean the organization isn’t open to change. Quite the opposite, in fact, Sharp says.
“We are open to looking at whatever new technologies and tools become available. You have to. You can’t just continue in the same mode or you’ll get left behind if you do. There is a wealth of competitors, especially in the GTA market, and we have to look to how we can differentiate ourselves from them,” he said.
York1 has had a hand in the development of some of Toronto’s most famed landmarks. One of its most notable projects was the construction of Roy Thomson Hall in 1978. It also broke ground on the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in 1980. In 1985, it set a Canadian record for the deepest excavation in the country at 110 feet with the Scotia Plaza project. A year later, it moved more than one million cubic metres of soil as part of the SkyDome’s development, now known as Rogers Centre.
York1 is currently involved in a pair of new, high-profile projects.
One is the cutting-edge Empire Quay House condominium and commercial space being developed at 162 Queen’s Quay in Toronto’s waterfront district. Sharp says it’s a particularly challenging project, partly because it requires installing a sophisticated secant pile water cutoff system. York1’s work on the project is expected to wrap up before the end of the year.
The other prestigious development York1 is actively involved in is 321 Davenport, which offers 18 high-end penthouse suites in one of downtown Toronto’s most desirable neighbourhoods. York1 is currently involved in drilling at the site and will later take care of excavation and install four levels of internal bracing. Sharp says the site poses some unique challenges, including the fact that there is a lot of groundwater and access to the building site is tight. It also required careful coordination between York1’s demolition division and its excavation crew which is still on site.
Although York1’s focus remains largely centred on the GTA market, Sharp says the company is looking to expand its geographic reach in the not-too-distant future.
“We’re always looking and exploring what opportunities are available. We are pushing the boundaries out from the GTA market. We are certainly interested in markets outside Ontario, such as Western Canada. That’s the longer-term picture. It will take some time to develop.”
To learn more about York1 and the services they offer, go to www.york1.com.