By Jim Barber
BOQ: How did your family get started in the homebuilding business, and why?
AG: My father, Marten Geertsma, owned a masonry contracting business and also built a few homes. So I basically grew up in the building business. After working for my father for a few years after high school I attended Loyalist College and graduated with a diploma in Civil Engineering Technology. My wife and business partner, Christy, graduated from Ontario Business College. We moved to B.C., where I began working as a field engineer for Northern Construction. We returned to Belleville to work with my father in masonry contracting and our masonry business branched into commercial construction and then homebuilding. Homebuilding is one of the largest components of our business today.
BOQ: What are your specialties – things that make you unique as a homebuilder?
AG: I think that our DNA is mostly about providing value to our clients. We try to turn that into reality with a focus on design distinction, attention to detail, service excellence, and incorporating innovations including energy efficiency into our homes. As a result, we have been regularly recognized by our peers and by our community with numerous awards in the categories of design and service excellence. Our newest Belleville community, Heritage Park, features a ‘High Performance’ model home designed and built to exceed Energy Star standards. All of our homes in Heritage Park will be built to Energy Star standards which include third-party testing and certification. Our standard new home specifications include many value-added features and innovations that are not available on existing homes or many other new homes.
BOQ: About how many homes have you built over the years and where have you built them?
AG: Over the years we have built more than 1,000 homes, ranging from small starter homes to estate homes and from multi-storey apartments to adult lifestyle townhome communities. We are just wrapping up Westview Village, a 137-unit bungalow townhome condominium community in Peterborough. We entered the Kingston market in 2004 and have recently been honoured by the City of Kingston for our new urbanism designs on Augusta Drive and Crossfield Avenue with a Liveable City Design Award of Excellence. Locally we have built homes throughout the Quinte region in numerous developments including Jackson Woods, Sarah Court, Deerfield Park, Roslin Meadows, Settlers Ridge, Eastgate Condominiums, Grandview Estates, and currently as builder/developers in Valleyview Court, Hanover Place, Academy Place, Heritage Park and coming soon – Stonecrest in Bayside.
AG: The challenges of operating a homebuilding business or any business come in many forms. Part of persevering is seeing whatever challenges that may come as opportunities to learn and grow and to focus on continuous improvement.
BOQ: What makes the Bay of Quinte Region a good place to be in business in general, and a homebuilder in particular?
AG: Belleville and the Quinte area is our home base, even though we work in other communities. Building homes is a lot about building relationships. One of the things we enjoy the most about living in a small community is the connections and relationships we have built over the years with our clients, sub-trades, suppliers and city staff. When called upon to support needs within our community we work together to pitch in.
BOQ: One thing the other builders we have talked to have mentioned is that even though you are in competition with one another, it’s still a pretty friendly and co-operative atmosphere amongst you all – it’s not as cutthroat as the GTA for example. Why do you think there is such a collegial spirit in the Bay of Quinte Region?
BOQ: What do you like about living in the Bay of Quinte Region? What parts of the community, the pace of life, amenities, cost of living, and overall feeling make this a place that people would want to live, work, raise a family and play?
AG: It’s hard to compare since we have lived here for most of our lives. For the brief period that I worked in Vancouver the big plus is realizing that the longest drive to almost any amenity in our community is not likely going to be much more than 15 minutes. As a homebuilder in the Quinte region we offer indisputably the best value along the lakeshore. As an example we offer single detached homes on serviced lots starting in the low $200,000s. The Quinte area has much to offer in the way of local amenities and for those inclined to check out bigger events only available in larger centers we are near enough to everywhere else.
For more information on Geertsma Homes Ltd., visit their website at http://geertsma.com.
– Jim Barber is a veteran, award-winning journalist and author based out of Napanee. Contact him at [email protected].