27 Jul Midwest History
1 – the beginning
Ron Barnes, the CEO of Midwest Group, grew up in a 950sqft bungalow, in northwest Calgary, Alberta. When he was fourteen his father built a double garage at the back of their house, and soon after, Ron filled it with cars, Mustangs and Camaros, as well as car parts and tools for toying and repairing them.
High school was enjoyable for Ron, he enrolled in multiple courses ranging from a machine shop program, an engineering program and an auto shop program. Ron worked for his father during the summer while in high school. Mr. Ray Barnes ran the Calgary office for Partition Systems Ltd., a wall and ceiling supplier in Calgary, and Ron gained valuable work experience from his father and the Company President. He was taught many things that increased his knowledge in the industry.
After graduation, with the knowledge and skills from the programs he took in high school, he accepted his first job in the construction industry. He worked as a carpenter for an interior contractor. He realized quickly that this was not his passion but decided to stay for six months, understanding that the experience gained outweighed his feelings towards the role. Working multiple construction jobs from 1982-1986, and getting married in 1986, Ron continued to grow his knowledge and experience in the construction industry.
2 – the creation of Midwest Contracting
In 1988, with the vision of creating a quality service company, Ron created Midwest Contracting Ltd. Ron was inspired by the idea of providing for the community and his vision was led by the idea of having satisfied clients. Although the culture has developed, the foundation of Midwest is the same as it was in 1988. Midwest’s foundation is built on the commitment to providing quality, completion and service. Ron has assisted all staff in upholding this commitment by his openness to change. Ron consistently adapts to changes in the economy, market and technology; understanding positive growth requires change.
Midwest made its home base in a nine hundred square foot office with a few tables and three office staff. Ron ran operations with an estimator and had one individual doing finance, five talented foremen, and sixteen tradesmen. From 1988 to 1992, this team of highly capable individuals built what is now Midwest Group. During this time, Ron’s major role was to connect with all the project managers and although he enjoyed this role, he realized that the business was growing and therefore, took a general manager role and hired an operations manager, to take over the role of running the day-to-day operations. From this point onward, Midwest continued to grow.
The company was growing quickly and in 1991-1992, it undertook a considerable expansion, a new building, nearly tripling the size of their current premise. Soon after they settled into their offices, they hired more staff and the firm grew at a significant rate. With a management staff of 10, Midwest began to adopt more modern age technologies and began to focus on the ever-growing demand for office renovation and construction in downtown Calgary.
Midwest embarked on another expansion in 2001, when it outgrew the previous building it had been in for nine years, moving to a new 16,500 square foot office in Harvest Hills area, in northwest Calgary. Another ten office staff joined Midwest from 2001 – 2010, doubling Midwest capacity to provide for the growing market.
3 – the creation of Fastwalls
In 2010, Ron had the vision to create a company that provided prefabricated steel stud systems to the western Canadian market, which became Fastwalls. This company focuses on providing efficiency to the construction market, by making it possible for developers, owners, and general contractors to enclose a building quicker. Fastwalls’ focus on efficiency allowed it to provide cost and time savings to the construction industry.
As Fastwalls continued to grow, it became apparent that it needed to have a larger factory to facilitate the demand for the prefabricated steel stud panels. Therefore, in 2013, again Midwest and Fastwalls staff moved to a new location on the edge of the City of Calgary. The new building with 38,000 square feet provided more factory space to increase the production of panels and larger office space for additional staff, increasing the office staff to 36. The building allowed. Fastwalls provides prefabricated steel stud panels all across western North America serving the healthcare, hospitality, senior care and commercial industries.
4 – continuing to provide for the construction industry
To this day, Midwest Group continues to be a market leader, through innovation and our commitment to quality and service. Ron is still a leader and mentor to his employees, making them feel wanted and part of the Midwest team. Ron’s journey from 1988-2016 has been a progressive path and he has not looked at the past in a negative way, but rather for learning and education. Under Ron’s direction, Midwest has progressed and continued to adapt to modern technologies, and never looked back on changes it made.
Ron recently said, “Faced with this current economic disaster, without the team, I would not be able to stay in business.” The team we have built enables us to continue to diversify and grow. Ron noted, “If you had asked me in 1988, if we would be an industry leader in office interiors and grow to the size we are, I would have said no.” The original vision of Midwest has developed and grown through time, yet here we are today still loyal to the commitments Ron made in 1988. The team continues to innovate, currently working on a non-combustible modular building system, for the assisted living and hospitality industries.