Soaring ceilings, crown moulding and granite countertops are mainstays of estate homes and just some of the items new homeowners, and those looking to upgrade, look for when shopping the market. Akash Homes, an emerging Edmonton-based home builder celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, doesn’t want first-time buyers to have to wait for some of those features, and that is what sets them apart in a very competitive industry.
“My father founded the company in 2002,” explains Dhruv Gupta, vice president. “He’s an engineer by trade and worked in Fort McMurray. While in that city he started buying commercial and rental properties. The progression into home building was a natural fit from there. The first home he built was for our family.”
Gupta describes Akash as “a small to midsize builder. We stick to the starter homes and move-up projects. Our philosophy is that we like to give added value to our customers, and our main focus is that we believe all customers should have the qualities of an estate home, whether they are in an estate home or not.” For Akash, this means 9’ ceilings, high-end flooring and countertops, coffered ceilings and high-end mouldings can be standard elements in their homes, not upgrades.
“It’s the little things you see in bigger homes brought to the mid-market,” Gupta smiles. “Our standard spec is high, and that is what has made us successful home builders. Our homes present a notable difference. Customers always know when they are coming into our product.”
Akash Homes grew quickly. From the humble start of the family home, Ashok, president and CEO, branched out to building in various communities and established relationships with local developers. By 2015, Akash had expanded into Hawks Ridge at Big Lake, the prestigious Windermere development and other communities in greater Edmonton. The company still operates rental properties as its own division, and has joint venture partnerships in various other real estate holdings throughout Alberta & Saskatchewan.
Gupta, a lawyer by trade, points out that being a family business presents another clear advantage. “In our business, with a few exceptions, the companies are all family businesses. When meeting with developers and builders in the industry, everyone understands and knows where you are coming from. From a customer standpoint, being a small-to-medium sized builder means the client has direct contact with the management team. There is an open line of communication, and they appreciate that.”
His legal background also plays a big role in the company. “I always intended to join the business, but I joined sooner than anticipated because of Akash’s rapid growth. When I started law school, the company wasn’t the size it is now. However, when I saw the growth, I was happy to come on board quickly. As a lawyer, my duties at Akash also include all the conveyancing and in-house financing work.”
While many businesses, including home builders, are finding the current economic market challenging, the Guptas are embracing the changes and remaining confident and proactive.
“We are simply addressing the economic issues by running lean and making tough decisions,” says Gupta. He goes on to note another aspect of the business that keeps them on their toes. “Competition! That’s where the added value of our homes comes in. We’ve had to differentiate ourselves by way of design and added value, so we went the added value method. Competition is strong in Edmonton. There are lots of great companies run by smart people, but,” he grins, “competition is healthy.”
It’s likely that their competitors feel the same way about Akash Homes. In just 15 years, the Guptas have taken the company from a one-man operation in a home office to a staff of seven, an office building and a strong presence in some of the most desired neighbourhoods in and around Edmonton.
“We have our townhouse site in the Brighton development in Windermere. It’s geared at first-time home buyers. Out of the 48 townhouses, 45 have double front attached garages. It’s a nice product, and it’s different from what you see with the usual townhouse market. In Hawks Ridge, our homes back onto a provincial park, making it one of a kind, if not the only of its type, in Edmonton. It’s not flat land. There are a lot of undulations, trees, nature, water and wildlife, all within five minutes of Yellowhead. We are also excited to be building in Sherwood Park on the Aspen Trails development. Sherwood Park is a new community for us and we are excited to be part of the strong growth in Strathcona County.”
Akash Homes also keeps up with the times. Gupta notes how much things have changed since his father started the business. Everything from print advertising giving way to social media marketing to granite being quickly supplanted by quartz, the changes are rapid, but the company is happy to note and incorporate those changes to the benefit of their clients.
“[In this business], it never stops,” laughs Gupta. “You are always thinking and always working hard. It allows you to be flexible. You can’t be an entrepreneur in what you do unless you love what you do. I don’t get up and say I have to go to work. I go because I want to. I work late because I want to. It’s not work; it’s what I do. As for teamwork, opposing viewpoints create a healthy discussion. The management teams with the sales staff, our trade partners and industry suppliers. You work with these people and you want their input. We know we are working with them for a reason. I take their input as much as I can. My background is on the finance and legal side, so I rely on their expertise.”
Akash Homes is also a partner in the community, supporting many of Edmonton’s non-profit organizations and charitable causes. The company is especially proud to support the University of Alberta’s various initiatives.
On behalf of Akash Homes, Gupta would like to thank its customers, staff, sales people, trade partners, supplier partners, realtor partners, financial partners and developer partners because, “together we create homes where people can make memories and raise families in a product they can be proud of.”
Akash Homes looks forward to the years ahead, focusing on sustainable growth, and continuing to deliver the affordable luxury they know home owners want and deserve.