Brenex is a commercial building corporation providing general contracting, design builds, and construction management. The company has worked on several high-profile eateries in Edmonton, fast food franchises, arenas, industrial facilities, and much more.
“There are two types of people,” says Kim Rolheiser, principal. “Businessmen in construction and contractors in business. We are contractors in business. We are builders in business. Our clients appreciate our level of detail and experience. With our oversight on projects, we minimize most of the standard issues in construction. For us, construction is sorting out problems.”
This year marks Brenex’s 35th anniversary, and unlike most family owned and run businesses that start with a clear vision for succession among the children and grandchildren, Brenex’s trajectory is very unique.
It all started when Kim answered an ad, which led to being hired at Brenex. He was a natural fit and, by 1990, had bought 50 per cent of the ownership. During this time, Brenex had won a bid to work on a large project in Fort McMurray. Co-owner Rob Roy and Kim needed to scale up on employees. Kim’s dad was a construction worker in Fort McMurray and was one of the people hired. He would continue on with Brenex for the next 25 years.
“My father was a natural in the field,” smiles Kim, who had actually worked for his father’s company when he was younger. “It was really special that we could work together again.”
In 2010, Kim became the company’s sole owner. In 2014, his son, Jorden Rolheiser, was making a career move from his role as an advertising executive. Despite not having previous plans to join the business, a closer look revealed that, although the projects and products differed, a role as project manager in the company had the basics he excelled at. There was already an opening in the Brenex office; Jorden applied and was accepted. Today, Kim’s daughter has also joined the company in an administrative role.
The family is close, personally and professionally, but there is a clear distinction between work and family life. Each employee, regardless of who they are and where they come from, earns their place, and absolute professionalism is a mandate at all times. This, along with Brenex’s vision and mission, is what enables their decades-long success.
“One of the secrets of Brenex is to work closely with our clients and provide personal service,” says Kim. You can’t do that if you are far removed from the operation. If I sit in my office looking down on my employees and people, we can’t provide the service that we do. Brenex maintains a certain size so we can provide direct oversight with the company. That is one of the secrets of our success.
He adds, “Every client, big or small, we want to make a repeated client. We want them to decide to make Brenex their construction consultant for the future. A lot of our customers have been with us for 5-20 years, and one for 29 years! We take the decision to use Brenex very, very seriously. Clients need us to perform better and better. We will do what we need to fulfill their trust in us.”
Jorden adds, “We treat our clients as we would like to be treated. We take their concerns and needs very seriously. We build for our clients as if we were building our own structures. That is why we have not advertised for 35 years. The business is built on word of mouth, referrals, and repeated customers. Integrity and honesty are important. We don’t play games. We do what we say we are going to do. We don’t make excuses. If we do something wrong, we admit it.”
“Construction,” Jorden continues, “is cyclical. Problems are inherent in construction even when the project is running smoothly. Problems are not a bad thing, just a challenge. Brenex solves problems and knows that, at the end of the day, we will be proud to stand by the finished product.”
One such challenge was when a client needed a 30,000 square foot warehouse on an oddly shaped piece of land. The client chose Brenex because they knew the company would not say no and would figure out the logistics.
“We went to our engineers,” says Kim. “It took three or four attempts and us needing to build a 400 x 16 foot retaining wall, but we did it!”
Kim and Jorden are quick to point out that the company’s success is a team effort.
“We don’t do this by ourselves. If we are a cog in the wheel, there are other cogs as well. We surround ourselves with likeminded professionals, such as subcontractors, architects, engineers, etc. Together, as a team, we approach our clients and build outstanding projects. We may be the quarterbacks, but we can’t do this without the proper team.”
“Being able to work under someone that has such an experience and knowledge is very inspiring,” says Jorden. “Yeah, he’s my father, but I don’t think many people at my age have the opportunity to work so closely with a mentor this way.”
“I love building buildings. I love that,” smiles Kim. “Walking a project through conception to permitting, design to completion, makes me very happy. When it is turned over on time and under budget and the client is thrilled, I know we have done a great job.
“There are no secrets in building. Big or small, buildings get built from the ground up the same way they have forever. Products and materials change, but it’s not like a larger company has a trade secret or a special way of building. The difference is in the people and the processes of the people involved. Brenex pays attention and applies a high level of integrity, honesty, and care in everything we do. We build buildings and we build relationships.”
“We are happy to continue to provide construction services,” concludes Jorden. “We appreciate the fact that our clients look to us to fill a role. Brenex fills that piece of your puzzle.”
Brenex wishes to thank its employees, trade partners, clients, and all those that have been instrumental in the company’s 35-year history.