The Work Speaks For Itself
In 1989, Morgan Simms accepted an invitation from his brother to travel out west from Newfoundland and try his hand in the construction industry, working with vinyl siding and shingles, picking up garbage and cleaning up sites. After a few months in Fort McMurray, he returned to school to study carpentry, continuing in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, and quickly gained the knowledge and experience he needed to bring a valuable service back with him to Fort McMurray.
IN 1996, SIMMS BROS. CONTRACTING WAS BORN, celebrating the three generations of the Simms family being in the industry. With their knowledge of construction and finishing, they have built a solid reputation in Fort McMurray as a company that does unparalleled work. But this solid reputation came from humble beginnings.
“When Simms Bros. started, I had a Chevy S-10 truck and $4 thousand,” shares Morgan. And buying tools was a gradual process; as each job was completed, the money earned was put towards adding on to the tool crib. It wasn’t long, however, before Simms Bros. really took off.
“We’ve worked on hundreds of homes in Fort McMurray through Simms Bros.,” explains Morgan. “From small projects such as garages, all the way up to five-story buildings…we’ve done it all.”
But Simms Bros. Contracting wasn’t the only thing starting up in 1996. It was then that he met his future wife, Gladys. After marrying in 2000, and adding two sons and a daughter to the mix, Morgan and Gladys started up Rochelle Homes, named after their only daughter, and are home builders committed to building dreams and a community.
“After so many years in the housing industry, I knew I had the building experience required for that next step,” explains Morgan. “The logical thing was to move forward with a full home-building company.”
For Morgan and Gladys, there are some basic principles that dictate the kind of work they do: Build it like it’s your own; always work with the best of everything: tools, supplies and people…especially people; and when the building is done, be proud to put your name on it.
So for Morgan, the names Simms Bros. Contracting and Rochelle Homes emphasize his family’s dedication to a solid reputation and a job well done. “We won’t build a home that isn’t up to our own family’s standards,” says Morgan. “Your home is a place that will create and hold memories and keep your loved ones safe.” And that’s very important to this family-based company.
That value placed on family has spilled over into Morgan’s dedication to the community. With years spent managing his oldest son’s hockey teams, Morgan discovered that running the hockey team like he ran a business yielded the same results.
“Respect comes out of what you put in,” explains Morgan. “I managed the hockey team much like I manage a business. You’ve got expenses. You need to build a budget, find a way to get that money to cover those expenses; you need people in the right places…players plus parents. Everyone’s got to be kept in the loop so they know what’s going on.”
Because of these experiences with minor hockey, and because his son came through the system, growing to be a solid young man, Morgan and Gladys gladly throw their support behind young athletes in Fort McMurray.
“Fort McMurray has been good to me,” Morgan says. “I’ve been successful here; I got married here, raised a family, have a grandchild. Fort McMurray is where our family is. We’ll always be tied to this community.”
Like all boom towns, however, our town might be going through some growing pains right now, but according to Morgan, they’ll straighten themselves out. And it’s that optimism and his love of the work that keeps the businesses rooted here.
“I just enjoy it. I can’t really explain why,” reflects Morgan. “I enjoy building a home or doing a renovation and pleasing a customer. You become well-respected and well-known for what you do. To pull that up and move away…you’d have to start all over again.” And that’s not something that appeals to Morgan.
For today’s homeowners, this is good news.
“Homeowners are educated now, and rightly so,” says Morgan. “They’ve done their homework and they want to hire the right people.”
This is something that Morgan is glad to see. When the customer wants the job done right, they typically come to him, and with good reason. “I came from a family who was very particular about their work,” says Morgan. “My grandfather and my dad would say, ‘If you don’t do it right, it’s not worth doing’. And that’s why we always strive for excellence. We believe that the work speaks for itself.”
For these family-focused businesses, that tradition of excellence is being honoured with each nail being driven, and the vision is still the same for Morgan: doing the job right each and every time.
What does the future hold for these two companies? “We’ll keep building homes with Rochelle Homes and doing exterior work with Simms Bros. Contracting,” says Morgan. “Until I retire or the businesses continue on with the family…we’re not going anywhere!”