Shakespeare asked “what’s in a name?” and it turns out there’s a lot. The names Devitt & Forand have become synonymous with integrity, quality and leadership over the last 55 years, establishing the benchmark for commercial general contracting and project management companies in Alberta and Western Canada.
Norm Devitt and Lorne Forand founded the contracting company in 1964 and built it into a successful firm. In 1991, the founders sold the company and the new owner sought a strong field guy with vast experience, and found that in Al Brunette. Brunette joined Devitt & Forand Contractors as a part owner and a few years later became the sole owner of the thriving company.
“When Al came in it was doing a million dollars a year; that was it,” says Brenda Brunette, CFO of Devitt & Forand. “Then it grew and the best year, when oil was booming, was $98 million. You can go through town and point at buildings and say ‘we did that one, and this one, and that one.’”
When Al passed in 2013, his wife Brenda took over as president and leaned heavily on son Blake, who was very involved in the business. This transitional time was difficult but Devitt & Forand emerged a stronger, more vital entity. And over the past five years, the Brunettes have continued to do what Al did best – providing the best service in everything from pre-construction consultation to full construction services and management – all the while adapting to an ever-changing construction industry and market with Blake leading the charge as president.
Since he was 16 years old, Blake has been learning the ins and outs of construction and has experience and training in everything from carpentry to pouring concrete. As his father was before him, Blake is a hands-on leader who continues to roll up his sleeves on the job site despite his title.
“I pride myself on supporting the guys in the field and being there for them. I need them to believe in themselves and in the team, and at the end of the day we’ll get everything done on time and on budget,” says Blake.
He is building on his father’s legacy to create something even better. Devitt & Forand takes good care of its longtime repeat clients while attracting new customers as well as younger, innovative staff to move the company forward.
“Blake is evolving the company into something that is more dynamic and youthful. We are still capable of doing large projects and re-establishing connections but also making new ones,” says Brenda.
Blake is focused on living up to the slogan emblazoned on their trucks: Expect More. He expects more from the team working for him and also appreciates that clients expect more from them too. Devitt & Forand crews are organized, clean, well trained and professional to ensure they deliver the company’s high standards of service and quality. There is little that is subcontracted to ensure quality standards are met on every project. The company’s client-first philosophy means Devitt & Forand is shoulder-to-shoulder with clients from the start of a project to its finish – and beyond – to ensure all expectations are being satisfied.
The attention to detail and quality is what makes Devitt & Forand a top choice for clients looking for a new build or renovation. The firm enjoys doing it all, with projects ranging from renovating the El Furniture Warehouse Stephen Avenue restaurant to renovating six city fire halls; from customizing its own new 7,000-square-foot office space to building the Airdrie Co-op liquor store from the ground up; from a renovation and facelift of Deerfoot Meadows Precision Hyundai reflecting its new branding to security upgrades to the emergency department at Peter Lougheed hospital.
Devitt & Forand is also a go-to for the school boards, with projects including a science lab and gym renovation at William Aberhart High School and a complete gut of St. Anthony School. St Anthony was a complicated build given the age and condition of the building and surrounding area.
“We ran into a lot of unforeseen conditions including soil replacement,” says Orlando Galan, senior project manager. “And it required a lot of coordination to accommodate the requirements of the principal and the special needs population of the school and to comply with building codes.”
But with out-of-the-box problem solving and the expertise provided by 55 years in the business, Devitt & Forand delivered. There is no project or challenge that Devitt & Forand won’t tackle.
“I don’t like to stay in a niche. I don’t want to be classified as industrial, commercial, car dealership. I want to be a well-rounded construction company that can build anything that anyone needs built,” Blake says.
That’s the next-generation Devitt & Forand – attending to clients, old and new, in every sector, with the same quality standards, creativity and customer service that have defined the firm since the beginning. When customers Expect More, they aren’t disappointed at Devitt & Forand Contractors.