Four years ago, I reported in this column that Star Building Supplies — a member of the Qualico family of companies — had tripled the size of its Calgary operations in buying 12 acres of land along Crosspoint Road in the booming industrial area of Balzac, east of CrossIron Mills and Century Downs Racetrack and Casino.
Besides a huge distribution yard, it built an office and logistics building, 24,000-square-foot warehouse and a 5,000-square-foot engineered wood products saw shop.
The company recently announced a further investment of $53 million on an adjacent 18-acre parcel of land that will double its capacity, create jobs and help the building industry for decades to come.
“We have recognized gaps in the construction material supply chain and this investment demonstrates the confidence Qualico has in the future of the industry, and our continual growth in the Calgary market,” says Claudio Palumbo, regional vice-president of Qualico for southern Alberta.
The expansion is expected to double the production of trusses, engineered wood products (EWP), prefabricated walls (PWP) and interior finishing production, and add more than 140 jobs. Today, Star has more than 200 employees, but the expansion will add opportunities for fork lift drivers, production workers, labourers, drivers and more office staff in design and sales.
“We have come to the table to really solve some of the significant issues that have caused stress in our industry over the past few years,” says Ken Crockett, vice-president of Star Building Materials of Calgary.
The pandemic and the resulting volatile supply chain and labour shortages caused real problems for Star in maintaining supply to its customers. Even today, Crockett says the recent B.C. port strike left a shipment of hinges bobbing up and down on a cargo ship off the Vancouver coast, delaying production of prefabricated doors.
“The company was very fortunate in being able to acquire the strategic piece of land in Balzac where the supply of available land continues to tighten,” says Brent MacKay, vice-president of national development for Qualico Properties. “Collaboration with JLL, our real estate team, was critical to the completion of this transaction.”
Crockett and his office are moving from the company’s current operation in its Alyth yard to be consolidated into a new 25,000-square-foot, two-storey office. The expansion will include a 41,000-square-foot EWP manufacturing plant with new automation equipment, a 55,000-square-foot dedicated PWP production facility primarily to serve the single and multi-family market, and a door shop supplying wood doors, windows and mouldings.
The “Star” attraction will be a second shop where another first-in-Canada machine will handle 60-foot-long engineered floor joists that will become beams stamped with lot numbers and addresses ready for delivery to construction sites.
Star currently provides approximately 40 per cent of the manufactured materials needed by the Calgary and area residential construction industry, and significant growth is expected that will require being able to fulfil a constant demand.
Crockett, who is also responsible for Star’s Edmonton manufacturing operation, expects the new Balzac expansion to be fully operational in late 2024 or early 2025. He affirms that Star plans to have zero disruptions in service to all of its clients throughout the process.
Star Building Materials started as a small lumber yard in 1958 and has grown to be one of the largest building material companies in Western Canada, serving builders ranging from small independent contractors to large construction operations.
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David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at [email protected]