Creating Opportunities for Success
When Ben Elzen joined the team at Cormode & Dickson Construction in 1983, he had no idea he would one day be sole owner of the company.
During his years working as a project manager, Elzen invested in shares and eventually became a partner. Things were falling into place for him. That is, until there was outside interest to buy. But with over two decades invested into the company, Elzen wasn’t ready to let go. “I kind of had a moment where I realized I’d really rather rule in my own pond than serve in someone else’s ocean,” says Elzen, who ten years ago bought out the full service general contracting firm. Since taking the reins as president, he has watched the company double in size, manifesting 15 to 20 per cent growth each year. Now with eight branches across Western Canada, Cormode & Dickson has proven itself to be a dominant force in the ever-competitive construction market.
"Cormode & Dickson has better leadership because of TEC Canada. When I joined, the biggest lesson learned was to focus on working on the company as opposed to in the company; build the company to have its own metrics and learning organization, one that could self articulate and understand lessons learned, and ultimately become an entity unto itself."
- Ben Elzen
Elzen’s key to success? “The formula has always been the same,” he says. “Grow, reach your potential and create opportunities; as opposed to staying stagnant and reaping your financial rewards.” With that solid approach in mind he has proudly cultivated an increasingly successful organization based upon founder Don Dickson’s powerful mission statement: Make every customer a repeat customer.
With a strong foundation, Elzen has recently taken expansion efforts to new heights, looking towards new media to help significantly contribute to the company’s bottom line. Taking a once ordinary electronic brochure, he has re-vamped his marketing tools by way of a new, user-friendly, highly optimized website. To these ends, an engaged SEO strategy designed to give excellent long term returns has been a consistent driver of business for Cormode & Dickson. They now sit at the top page in 230 online search phrases, including ‘Canadian builder contractor’.
At first, Elzen admits his skepticism towards the benefits of an online presence. “The (vendor) kept saying it’ll be there, just wait. And then one day, the results started to trickle in and we started to see some positive momentum.” Soon after the site launched, he remembers receiving a phone call from Fort McMurray, 450 kilometres north of Cormode’s head office in Edmonton.
“People I didn’t even know phoned me up and asked us to build for them. I asked them what they knew about us and they responded: ‘We know everything about you, we looked at your website,’” Elzen recalls, adding the potential client wanted to replicate a building seen featured on the site. With plans for the partnership immediately in motion, it was then that Elzen realized that his willingness to follow his instincts had paid off.
“If I had to guess 15 years ago that we would be selling construction services online, I would have laughed out loud. Today I can tell you that with the explosion of web-based access, I think most of our customers, if not all of them, check us out online before they ever call us. There’s a big credibility bridge already built just because of the website.” Following his above mentioned formula to success, Elzen continues to create new opportunities to build on, particularly expanding in eastern markets. “We have our eye on Winnipeg and Toronto. We’ll continue to develop new branches.”
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