Rooted firmly in the city’s history, Flesher Marble & Tile’s longevity and success is an achievement most businesses can only dream of. It’s an achievement that can’t be easily chalked up to one factor or another, but more a culmination of strengths like infallible perseverance, hand picked employees, exceptional service and a timeless product. From the office to the project site, the company has come to know just what it takes to stand the test of time.
Started in Calgary in 1910, Flesher’s work can be seen in many infrastructure projects across the city. Decade after decade, era after era, the company has laid foundation in the commercial construction industry. It’s focus on quality workmanship, promoting and maintaining cultural integrity and keeping with its strong business ethics are some of the strengths that helped them carve out a niche and reach this 110-year milestone.
The company is currently owned by Eleanor Juke, widow of industry leader Wayne Juke who left us far too early and tragically in February 2014. If Flesher is 110-years-old, it’s worth noting that the Juke family has had an ownership stake for over half of these 110 years. Juke family ownership started with Jack Juke in the 60’s with his son Wayne eventually taking the reigns and leading the company into the 21st century. Eleanor, with the assistance of the current Flesher Management Team are poised for the next 110 years.
Brent Fisher has been with the company for just over 12 years. Since taking over the General Manager role in 2014, he’s been instrumental in guiding the exceptionally diverse and talented Flesher team. As many strong leaders would attest, success hinges on not only the calibre and quality of the work, but on the individuals who are hired to do it. “We simply have exceptional people,” says Brent. “My job is to continue with the direction laid out by my mentor Wayne Juke and stay the course.”
Brent does admit that “the course is dynamic” and he suggests since January 2015 commercial construction has been in a slow decline. “Our economy in Alberta is obviously driven by oil,” says Brent. “We all know our oil industry has seen better days.” He suggests that infrastructure spending and commercial construction follows along closely with the oil industry and Flesher continues to adjust accordingly. “The big adjustment,” says Brent “is operating in an environment where the low price seems to be everything when Flesher is not historically a low price contractor, It is becoming challenging to offer quality workmanship in this low price market but our cultural integrity drives the ship and we compete every day with our heads held high.”
Now, after more than a century, Flesher has the work down to a science. In more recent years the company has been recognized for this exceptional work. The Tile, Terrazzo and Marble Association of Canada (TTMAC) is the governing body of the hardsurfaces industry in Canada. Flesher won the TTMAC 2016 Manufactured Tile category award for an amazing and timeless set of washrooms done at the Telus Convention Centre. They were recognized again in 2017 with the TTMAC Technical Product Application award category and also the Project of the Year category for work on the YYC International Terminal.
It’s the large infrastructure projects that Flesher has hung its hat on and many of those have been in alignment with large general contractors. The 2017 TTMAC Project of the Year was done with Ellis Don and the company was on site for four years. More recently, Flesher has been aligned with PCL Construction on the Calgary Cancer Centre. The two have been working side by side for over 100 years as the incorporation of Poole Construction (now PCL) is listed to be 1913 although founded in 1906.
The soon-to-be Calgary Cancer Centre mentioned above is the latest endeavor Flesher is co-piloting with PCL. The Alberta Government & PCL design/build project will feature approximately 48,000 square feet of porcelain tile including an open staircase. It’s located on the Foothills Hospital site and will be an internationally recognized, state-of-the-art facility that will provide cancer treatment services and a hub for those affected with it.
“PCL does an amazing job of keeping the workplace safe and healthy. For example, they include all tradespeople in their communications and keep their protocols tight,” says Kirk Fisher, Project Manager for Flesher Marble & Tile. “Working with them is first rate.”
Post Covid-19 many things have changed but Flesher maintains that construction has been steady and leading the way with safety in the workplace. “Construction has really been the golden child here in Alberta keeping the economy moving ahead,” says Kirk. “Even during all of this, we’ve been lucky to not have had any significant shutdowns.” He suggests this is testament to the general contractors who have worked very hard to keep the projects alive. “I take it upon myself to ensure we cover all the bases and that we’re safe and we aren’t anyone’s problem on the job sites, boasts Kirk.” “This is what you do when you’re a professional contractor.”
The Other Side of Business
In the last five years, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) has been taking a bite out of the tile business due to affordability, durability and visual appeal. Flesher has been continuously expanding into soft surface product, offering it on both the commercial and retail side.
“We’ve been diligent in the last couple of years to establish distribution rights with the major manufacturers so as to offer LVT,” Brent says. “Beyond the LVT trend we’re seeing a rise in popularity of statuario marble, commonly found in both gaged or standard format tile, as well as wood finish tile.” “Backsplash tile is ever changing and presently as funky as ever with lots of new colours, sizes and shapes.” Brent suggests that staying on pace with the trends is always important as they do run a retail showroom. “The selection we have in our showroom is a good cross section of reputable, quality distributors,” says Brent and he invites everyone to come see for themselves.
Although a repetitious comment Brent beams as he says, “it’s really all about our people. “We’ve got the best Project Managers, Estimators, Warehouse/Material Handling and Office Admin Staff in the business.” Although fewer employees than pre-2015 Flesher is continuing to take on the flooring world with a vengeance and with another 110 years in their sights.