Specializing in green construction and eco-friendly renovations, Evolve Builders Group is a full-service general contractor and homebuilder, registered with Ontario Tarion New Home Warranty. Located in Guelph, Ontario Canada, Evolve Builders Group Inc. is the parent company to Harvest Homes, Fermata – Works of Earth, and mobEE Eco-Friendly Portable Classrooms. Their team (30+ full-time craftspeople) works on projects that span from Nicaragua to California, and all throughout southern Ontario.
Q: When was the moment you first knew you were meant to be an entrepreneur?
I had been interested in “business” from as young an age as I can recall. Perhaps incorrectly informed by my childhood passion for board games – think Monopoly, Careers, Poleconomy, Game of Life etc. I had, at the time, believed that it was possible – even common – for someone to start at a firm sweeping floors yet be able to rise through merit and effort perhaps to the executive suite.
I was disabused of this notion a little later, which perhaps triggered my earliest entrepreneurial interests as a means of getting into business: growing jack-o-lantern pumpkins for sale annually, foraging raspberries to sell, even producing 500 boxes for a (failed) intention to sell a statistically based hockey game while still attending secondary school.
In university, I supplemented my summer job earnings by scouring Ottawa neighbourhoods on garbage day for salvageable (or immediately useable) small furnishings and appliances, repairing then selling them again through the PennySaver classified ads.
Yet, while these activities might have hinted at an entrepreneurial interest, I attended university with intent to be an urban planner – a decidedly unentrepreneurial career.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you have faced starting your business?
In the earliest days of Evolve Builders Group (then called Harvest Homes), the work we desired most serviced only a niche market. While the niche was still sufficiently large to sustain a growing operation, almost by definition a niche means that customers are not necessarily going to be in close geographical proximity to one another.
This required me, and our growing team, to travel, often living (read: camping) on our construction sites, away from friends, family, and our own respective homes for a week or even several weeks at a time.
This absence placed burdens on relationships, other personal interests and ultimately would not have even been manageable had I been at that time attempting to raise a family.
Q: What is the biggest “win” you have experienced as an entrepreneur?
The single greatest professional high that I have experienced was successfully conceiving of, designing, overseeing – and ultimately donating – the first-ever prefabricated, panelized, straw bale walled house in North America – unveiled first at the National Home Show and receiving enormous praise and earned media attention.
Today though, I would say that the “win” I experience and that motivates me today, is that of becoming an even larger employer, with all of us directing our efforts to make Evolve part of the climate solution rather than just a less bad option.
Q: What is the most important piece of advice you would give to others who are starting their own business?
Don’t pursue too many shiny things – as I know myself to be inclined towards – and no matter the short-term cost, always be prepared to automatically “do the right thing” whenever something needs to be remedied.
Q: What was the biggest key to your success? How do you measure success?
I view our success by how much carbon we avoid putting into the atmosphere (or sequester from the atmosphere) and by how many great minds and hands we employ to increase our positive impact.