Western Living Homes is a family owned and operated business that has been building in greater Edmonton since 1982. A community and custom builder, Western Living builds 60 homes a year, all with stunning designs, unique features and quality that stand the test of time.
Nicholas DeRose, General Manger, discusses the company’s 40 year evolution.
“The earliest iteration of the company was started by my parents, Nick and Carmela,” says DeRose. “They started building houses around 1978 under the name DeRose Developments. They incorporated Western Living Homes in 1982.”
DeRose smiles as he reminisces. “My parents have always been true entrepreneurs at heart. My dad started in the meat industry while selling real estate in the evenings and on weekends. When he began new home construction projects, my mom decided to join him in that venture. They had a real passion for home building and worked side by side until retirement in the early 2000s.”
He continues, “I have been involved in the business my whole life. As a kid I was very interested in following my parents’ footsteps. As a result, my summer jobs were in the construction industry. I worked for All Weather Windows, a stucco company, on a cribbing crew – and I cleaned on Western Living Home’s job sites. My dad thought it was important to work in our showhomes selling real estate amongst other positions that I held within the company. I continued working in construction during my training at NAIT’s Construction Engineering Technology program and later graduated with a (CET) designation.”
Working alongside his parents was a highlight for DeRose and stepping into the General Manager role was an easy transition. He feels truly blessed to be able to carry on the family business by working alongside his sister and brother. Christine obtained her BSc from the University of Alberta and worked in the pharmaceutical industry before joining the company. She now manages the financial side of the business. After Robert graduated from post secondary, he joined Western Living as a superintendent. He works in the office as the Construction Manager.
Developing industry partnerships is integral to the success of the business. “Healthy partnerships are important to us,” says DeRose. “We have longstanding relationships with a number of industry partners such as Melcor, Cantiro and Tag Developments. An early and very important partnership for our company was when my parents were invited to join the Nottingham Subdivision project in Sherwood Park. We enjoyed a 15+ year position and have built a number of memorable houses in that location.”
“We reinvest in our communities,” says DeRose firmly. “When we can, we support locally, then provincially and federally. We source from and support Edmonton companies that also focus on reinvesting in our city, province and country. We support other family and small volume businesses.”
This support is just as evident in the brand’s customer service.
“As a family business, even with our high volume turnout, we are agile and in an enviable position for clients to deal directly with me or another manager on the team. Our clients do not have to call a general line and be subjected to being passed off to manager after manager to get an answer. We deal directly with issues right away. I would not expect our clients to accept something that I would not accept in my own home.”
Western Living Home’s trade partnerships play a significant role in customer service too, as DeRose is happy to explain.
“We are blessed to have longstanding trade partnerships. The benefit is that we are not changing our trades job after job or going with the lowest bid. We maintain our trade partnerships year after year so if there is an issue down the road, sometimes even years later, we have the ability to go in and research to find out what happened. For example, if a product fails post warranty, we can go back and see why it failed and talk to the trades on the install. They may say it should not have failed and will replace it, or if it is not under warranty they may replace it at a reduced cost. We can do this because we have those longstanding relationships with trades. Working with good people that are willing to stand behind their work is important to us.”
Western Living Homes assures quality and customer service through third party inspections, blower door tests and ensuring every house is EnerGuide rated.
“We were not reluctant to bring in a third party inspector,” says DeRose. “We enjoy working closely with Holmes Approved Homes.”
The Mike Holmes brand approached Western Living Homes a number of years ago and DeRose was intrigued by the opportunity. “Having Holmes Approved Homes performing our third party inspections brings another set of eyes to the project and helps keep us accountable to produce the best product possible.”
The inspections are a unique advantage for clients of Western Living Homes, but home buyers also have the opportunity to customize their build.
DeRose explains, “Some home builders only have one brand for their clients to choose from, but we don’t sign exclusive agreements with brand manufacturers. Our clients can upgrade or change products as they wish within their budget. In any product that we build, we offer the service of making modifications: moving walls, changing window places, etc. We have an inside draft team that will create the plans and make adjustments to our stock models. It’s all about giving the clients the most flexibility and choice as part of our brand promise and customer service.”
“I want our customers to know how much we appreciate them and how honoured we are to be a part of their journey and their lives. We have a small window to establish a relationship and build trust in an authentic way when they are in our showhome; we appreciate their time – every moment. I want them to know they are making a good decision because we stand behind our product. We strive to ensure they have a good experience and they are happy with the product and home we have built. Our hope is that they and their family create lasting memories in their new home.”
Western Living Homes has grown consistently over the past 40 years and that growth has come with some challenges – especially in today’s climate.
“We are facing the same battles as every other business owner in Alberta right now,” says DeRose, “inflation, shipping, supply chain, economic ups and downs and the fallout from COVID. However, thanks to our longstanding relationships, business practices and family values, we are able to operate efficiently despite the roadblocks. We are pleased to maintain our volumes consistently over the turbulent past years.”
The challenges are more than offset by the many things DeRose loves about his career.
“There is nothing greater, for me, than being able to work with my family,” he says with a smile. “I started off working with my parents, and now I work alongside my siblings and my wife. I get to have lunch with them daily. I consider the team our extended family. Many have been with us for at least 10 years. We are proud of our low turnover in both the team and among our trade partners. To see others that want to work with us and be a part of our story is something that keeps us all moving forward. My father always stressed to me the importance of healthy relationships. I see that play out in every corner of our company. Being here… I couldn’t be prouder to help continue the legacy.”
The DeRose family and the Western Living Homes team is passionate about giving back to the community.
“Edmonton is a tight knit city and a very generous city,” says DeRose. “There are a lot of great people, business owners and entrepreneurs. We like to centre ourselves around good people that enjoy giving back. It’s great to be a part of the charitable culture of giving in Edmonton.”
For more than 20 years Western Living Homes has supported the Make-A-Wish® Foundation. Nick Sr. and some of his close friends started a golf classic for the Foundation, and Western Living Homes is pleased to carry on the tradition. The golf classic is among the biggest fundraisers for the organization. Western Living Homes is also pleased to support the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, minor hockey, mental health research, the Ukraine crisis and many more charities in and around the city.
DeRose concludes by thanking the company founders, the team, suppliers, vendors and clients before talking about the future.
“We are thrilled to celebrate our 40th anniversary this year! This milestone is a culmination of everyone that came before us, worked with us, and supported us to make this company happen. What comes next is another 40 years – and more – of business. We will continue to retain our conservative approach as this is what helps us remain efficient and maintain our volume. We will continue to build relationships with our developer partners, clients and trades. We will move in the same direction while evolving and innovating as the industry changes.”
Learn more about Western Living Homes at
www.westernlivinghomes.com and follow their exciting news and community developments on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.