A major hailstorm brought an Edmonton window capping company to Calgary, kickstarting one of the city’s most successful and award-winning renovations company.
In 1979, Danny Ritchie and his accountant brother Terry, launched Ultimate Window Capping in Edmonton, quickly developing a reputation for quality work. By the late 1980s, they’d grown the business into a larger enterprise, Ultimate Exterior Renovators.
Their world changed on Sept. 7, 1991, when a record-breaking hailstorm hit Calgary, causing $237 million worth of damage. A plea went out to Ultimate Exterior Renovators to help with the massive amount of restorative work.
“There was so much work that they moved here permanently and opened up shop,” says Raelynn Deschner, marketing coordinator for Ultimate.
From replacing siding, they began building additions and moved into complete interior renovations. Ultimate has kept pace with the evolution of the home renovation business over its 40-year history, adding new builds to its roster two years ago.
Deschner says they have about 50 projects going at any one time.
“On the low end, our projects might start at about $10,000,” she says. “But most of our projects are between $100,000 and $200,000 on the renovation side and $800,000 to $2.5 million on the new build side.”
Showcasing their work in a model home is one of the smartest things Ultimate has ever done, says Deschner.
“We’ve had homes in Lake Bonavista, Edgemont and there’s one now in Douglasdale,” she says. “It’s much easier to show someone that you do good work than tell them.
“Our showhome in Kelvin Grove by the Rockyview Hospital should be ready in September.”
Danny Ritchie, who believes so strongly in customer service he personally answers the phone, says the appetite for change increases once people see the possibilities.
“Early on when our focus was exterior renovations, we would place a job sign on the lawn and we would get enquiries from neighbours. The same wasn’t so for our interior work as neighbours couldn’t see the transformation,” he says. “Now, we can post pictures online and get others interested once they can see what possibilities are available for an older home.”
He says new ideas presented to customers via social media and television programs also contribute to the appetite for home improvement, which keeps pushing Ultimate forward.
“We’re also part of (BILD-Calgary Region) and RenoMark, which holds us to higher standards. We have to continuously prove our work,” says Deschner, adding Ultimate has won more than 40 BILD Awards and had three BILD Calgary nominations in 2018.
Many of the staff members and site workers have been with Ultimate for more than 25 years.
“Danny and Terry have done a great job of building a team,” says Deschner. “With a good team, you’re going to get good work, which means you get good customers and good reviews, which leads to more work.”
As the Ritchie brothers look beyond this 40th anniversary year, a succession plan is in place, says Deschner.
“Danny’s son Paul studied engineering at the University of Alberta and has been honing his craft at Brookfield Residential and his daughter, Amanda, is a very successful realtor,” she says. “Both are working within the industry and are looking forward to joining the company in the future.”