Partners Through Shared Values: Lincolnberg Master Builders

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Partners Through Shared Values: Customization Makes for a Better Customer Experience

Lincolnberg has been building communities in the greater Edmonton area since 1978. With four decades in business, there have been some inevitable challenges and lessons learned along the way, which has helped ensure they remain a strong player in the competitive home building industry. But how did they begin, and what has kept them on top?

“We introduced choice into the marketplace,” says Keith Jansen, President at Lincolnberg Master Builder. “And that’s really what our company has been about for the past 40 years. We’ve taken our legacy of customer choice and have focused that even further on the whole experience and how to maximize that for our customers.”

Customer experience is paramount

This attitude and approach doesn’t just live with the management team; it reverberates throughout the company.  “We concentrate heavily on the customer experience,” echoes Jennifer Smith, Communications and Marketing Manager. “Our customers get to choose everything from start to finish and have some flexibility with respect to customization. It’s another quality that sets us apart from other bigger builders in the city.”

People have noticed, too. For the last three years in a row, Lincolnberg has received the Builder of Choice Award from CustomerInsight (2018 Builder of Choice H.O.M.E. Award for Edmonton). “Once you get to that top level, you always need to keep raising the bar,” says Keith.

Weathering the challenges facing the home building industry

But operating at such a high level can present its own challenges. Lincolnberg has found a few pain points along the way, like keeping up with the ever-changing building codes at the national level, construction costs, understanding regulations (e.g., Occupational Health and Safety and new legislation), an aging workforce taking valuable knowledge with them when they retire, as well as economic upswings and downturns affecting the bottom line. These challenges not only bring with them logistical considerations to navigate but also financial, particularly when it comes to the costs associated with regulations for new home construction.

For regulatory barriers and building code changes, it’s a more straightforward approach. “There are some issues facing our industry that you can’t solve outright,” says Keith. “But you need to be aware of them. That’s why it’s important to be involved in the industry to know what’s happening and what’s coming up on the horizon.” And for Lincolnberg, they’ve been proactive when it comes to building code changes related to energy efficiency in particular. Keith explains, “One of our original founding partners, Lewis Nakatsui, was really instrumental in creating a number of innovative ways to create more airtight homes for greater energy efficiency and demonstrating that this could technically be done (e.g., airtight drywall without vapour barrier) based on the R-2000 and Energy Efficiency programs. As a company, we really thought about how we can do this differently and better so that we could provide the customer with an enhanced product for the same price.”

Keith also believes that it’s important for companies to be a catalyst and active participant in better conversations with government about issues related to taxes, levies, building codes, and improved regulations so that the impact on consumers is understood and considered.

Having the right trade partners in place

The other way to mitigate these pain points is to have good trade partners. “You have to have people who are passionate about what they do and believe in the company values,” says Keith. This is a key reason why Lincolnberg and All Weather Windows has a working relationship that spans over two decades.

“All Weather Windows reflects some of the same core principles as my company — they understand our conversations around people, product and price,” Keith elaborates. “They’re not willing to just come up with any product and say it’s good; they will go and design a product and then do testing on top of that to ensure it’s the best product.”

Don Tolsma, Construction Manager of Lincolnberg Master Builder, couldn’t agree more. “All Weather Windows has their own research and design department,” he explains. “They have their teams all set to oil that machine to be sure that they’re not thinking just about today, but also about five and 10 years down the road.”

 Working together with the long view in mind

For example, one innovation pioneered by All Weather Windows is a racking system that delivers window and door products to construction sites in a secure way so that the fragile material is not compromised before builders are ready to install it. “They’re trying different ways to help builders be better when we’re all in a tough market,” says Don. “They want to be the best, even in a challenging market. And that’s not easy to do.”

Another example of this forward-thinking in practice came to Keith’s mind as well: “One of the things that happened years ago was putting the ratings on windows. AWW spent a significant amount of money testing their windows so that I could put that number on my permit to say that was tested. That process was seamless; there were no hiccups. If that wasn’t the case, then that could become a huge issue. And a good partner will understand that producing a good product will ensure it lasts for many years.” Lincolnberg Master Builder is now in its second generation as a company and Keith attributes having good partners, like All Weather Windows, to their staying power in the industry.

It can be a tough market out there for homebuilders. Several factors can come into play that decide when and how you’re able to build: permits, code, weather, available expertise and market demand for new builds. But for 40 years, there has been just one that matters most at Lincolnberg: the customer. And this is how All Weather Windows approaches business for the past 40 years as well — putting our customers and their experience first.

If you’re a builder looking for a partner to assist with your window and door needs, consider All Weather Windows.