By Ian Ross
He's candid, outspoken and sometimes controversial.
And at Mike Moore & Sons Construction Ltd., there is only one shareholder - Mike.
Despite operating as a private company, the 51-year-old general contractor feels compelled to publish an annual report. To Moore, it befits his policy of transparency and fairness to his bankers, bonding company and clients by putting his successes and failures, year-end reviews and blue-sky forecasts into print.
He also isn't averse to issuing a challenge to other Sault contractors to roll up their sleeves for a summer blood donor drive, with the winning company being treated to a barbecue lunch at his expense.
Or he might set the community's tongues wagging through his widely read monthly e-newsletter offering his insights on the state of the region's construction industry.
As many Northern Ontario entrepreneurs know, three-year business plans can be quickly dumped when a company is reliant on spin off projects from a resource- and government-dependent economy.
However, Mike Moore & Sons has learned to be flexible and mobile enough to be able to change gears when an opportunity opens up in the North's cyclical industrial-commercial-institutional markets.
The company has gained a stellar reputation across the North from its supporters, for going the extra mile and delivering quality work on time and within budget.
From sales of $1.5 million during their inaugural 1989 season, they posted a company record of almost $11.3 million in 2004.
While 2006 isn't shaping up for the banner year he had predicted - in building on last year's sales of $10.8 million - Moore continues to explore all opportunities to grow, including some promising ventures in the German wind energy market. The company is involved in a design-build project to build a wind turbine tower manufacturing facility at Algoma Steel. He's also in serious financial negotiations with another German firm, CANWIND, an assembler of wind generators.
Making smart choices has stood Mike Moore & Sons well.
Seventeen years ago, the company emerged from the ashes of the bankrupt J. P. Pierman Construction Ltd. where Mike was chief estimator. Many of his 35 to 45 employees today include senior management and superintendents drawn from that company's ranks.
Mike Moore & Sons have struck up an alliance to supply steel buildings to Michigan's Nomad Construction and have erected large design-build projects for mining service companies in Sudbury, where the company is considering a branch office.
This past summer, Moore purchased the assets and inherited the customer base of the now defunct Michigan Maple Ltd., a local millwork business specializing in manufacturing table tops for restaurants, cabinets, counter tops and cutting boards. Their first month of operation in July produced $80,000 in orders.
Information technology is one facet of business Moore and his firm has easily embraced.
"I totally breathe electronic," says Moore. "The computer world is where we want to be."
Each morning, Moore and his clients can receive a digital briefing on the progress of the given projects. Superintendents in Sudbury, North Bay, Parry Sound or the Muskokas can file their daily reports from their laptops and post digital pictures.
Mike Moore & Sons has been provincially recognized for its dedication to being the best in construction workplace safety with a remarkable record of only one lost-time injury since the company's inception.
And as a non-union shop, Moore is committed to keeping his employees satisfied by paying better than union wages with year-end bonuses if the company does well. As their project list has grown, they've moved from small jobs in the $2 million to $3 million range, to $6 million to $10 million to keep their workforce employed year-round.
"We've got much busier so many of my guys who were seasonal, are now full-time, and I can see they're happy to be working because they've bought a car or house whereas before they couldn't. And that's important to me to keep them in good shape financially."