Copperblock Capital Corporation is an example of how a business can evolve and be profitable while also taking to heart the true meaning of building a sustainable future.
“Copperblock was founded two years ago, but the origins of the corporation go back much further,” explains CEO Adam Morris. “My parents launched the first iteration of the company. Mom was an interior designer. Dad was a dentist. They were looking for ways to put their money to work and develop investment projects across Alberta. I took over in 2014 and at that time, we shifted the focus to real estate development in Edmonton. I founded Copperblock shortly thereafter as our rebranded development entity.”
Copperblock, who mostly builds multi-family apartment buildings, is at the forefront of a unique industry. As Morris explains, “We are an Edmonton-based real estate development firm focused on socially responsible and environmentally friendly multi-family and commercial development. We strive to be the industry leader in sustainable real estate projects, such as purpose-built apartment rentals, through the use of innovative materials and practices like building with shipping containers, sourcing our wood from sustainably grown forests, utilizing solar panels, providing car-share parking in all of our buildings, rainwater collection, and recycling and utility management.”
While he stresses that Copperblock focuses on providing high returns for investors, Morris is adamant that outstanding earnings can be achieved without sacrifice to the environment. He passionately cares about the planet and uses often-overlooked materials, like shipping containers, to build high-quality, lasting, beautiful homes.
He manages this while also managing Copperblock’s rapid growth. When Morris took over in 2014, the firm had a staff of two. In just a few short years that number jumped to 30. That growth was realized as the result of an aggressive strategic vision.
“The plan was to move beyond a mom-and-pop real estate development shop to an industry-leading real estate development firm, with millions of dollars under management and dozens of projects on the ground at any one time,” Morris explains.
While the rapid growth is impressive, it has not come without setbacks. Morris and his team come to work each day more than prepared to greet both the challenges and the successes along the way.
“We can attribute our success to being persistent, to being relentless,” he says. “For me, I bring resiliency to the table every day. These traits are what allow us to keep going and growing. We face setbacks all the time like cost overruns and zoning that doesn’t go our way. It’s being able to say ‘okay, that happened today but I will persevere through this and tomorrow things will be better.’ We have that kind of dedication.”
That tenacity was seen in a recent project that seemed to go sideways at an alarming rate – at first.
“We recently completed a single family infill in Bonnie Doon,” Morris says. “The project took longer than anticipated and we had a number of setbacks. As we neared completion, we turned the water on and had a 50 foot geyser in the yard! The line was ruptured. We had to excavate and replace the line from the city water to the property.”
But that was the least of the problems.
“The house had been broken into 20+ times!” Morris continues. “We had tools stolen. We had fixtures and furniture stolen. We put up a light stand with a camera and when the guy couldn’t get into the house, he stole the light and camera! We couldn’t wait for the project to end… and when the project ended the market had crashed.”
It seemed hopeless, but along came a plot twist.
“Within two days of hitting the market we had three offers, one below asking price, one at asking price, and one above.” He smiles, “Had we not persevered we would not have seen the upside at the end.” He points out that this project was not the norm and many others have gone quite smoothly, but projects like this show the corporation’s unshakeable spirit and unyielding determination.
With a focus on sustainable building, Copperblock is very excited to share good news: the recent completion of Edmonton’s first shipping container spec home.
Morris is elated. “We believe in shipping containers as a viable method for residential construction. We are so committed to this that we bought a facility with the intention of creating a mass production process for shipping container homes. There is a misconception that a shipping container home is small, narrow, and obvious; but, if you didn’t know we used shipping containers in the spec home, you would never realize it.”
For Copperblock, using materials like shipping containers is just the beginning.
“Sustainability includes building with shipping containers, with structurally insulated panels (SIPs), and lumber harvested from sustainably grown forests. It includes features like solar panels, living roofs, and rainwater collection. Our apartments have a utility monitoring app so tenants know how much energy they are using and how they can cut back. We are including charging stations for electric cars and car sharing spaces.”
Copperblock is helping to save the planet for future generations, all while creating profit and returns for investors – not bad for a man that had planned on being a banker, not a real estate developer. However, when he saw how he could combine his expertise in finance with the chance to build sustainable dwellings, Morris knew he found his calling.
“We can build sustainably while being profitable,” Morris smiles confidently.
Copperblock is pleased to not only be disrupting the real estate development process, but to be doing it from the home base of Edmonton.
“City council and the Mayor have done a fantastic job of building a progressive building community,” Morris praises. “I feel Edmonton is a beacon for Western Canada.”
He also praises his support system, notably, his wife Jammey.
“Growing a business is very difficult,” he reflects. “Even though my parents started it, it wasn’t like I was handed a cheque. We really had to scrape and claw our way to becoming an established firm. With growth from a staff of 2 to 30 in the short time it took, there had to be some sacrifices both emotionally and financially. My wife supported me through all of that. She stood beside me when I had to spend every penny of our savings to get the business going and when I remortgaged the house. She believed in me.”
That belief was not misplaced. Today Morris and his team are proud of the inroads they’ve made in sustainable real estate development, and the returns Copperblock has provided for investors. Morris has been recognized with a Leaders award, which further proves his business acumen.
“Being awarded by Leaders recognizes our efforts in growing the business. When I think of the fellow recipients, it’s a fantastic class of businesspeople. It’s the who’s who of leaders. Being mentioned in the same breath as them is humbling and important. What an honour.”
Morris is heavily invested in the community with both corporate and philanthropic causes. In 2015, he founded a charity called the Canadian Family Foundation (CanFam).
“CanFam was founded to help Syrian refugees with resettlement,” Morris explains. “As the need for that cause eased, we broadened the efforts of CanFam into geriatric care. One of the causes I am very passionate about is ensuring our senior population continues to have access to a community as their own natural community fades away. A large selection of the senior population is left to themselves. Nobody should be alone, especially at Christmas.”
One of CanFam’s initiatives is a Christmas supper that brings seniors from all walks of life together to celebrate and make new connections.
Going forward, Morris plans to continue Copperblock’s growth, continue providing exceptional returns for investors, and continue proving that sustainable construction can be very profitable.
“We plan to expand to other cities,” he concludes. I see a few regions, such as Waterloo and Kitimat, being primed for explosive growth.”
Learn more about Copperblock Capital Corporation by visiting copperblock.ca online,
@copperblockcapital on Facebook and Instagram, and @copperblock on Twitter.