Canadian Contractor

John Bleasby   

Canadian Contractor mentoring series: What Steve Said! Part 1

Canadian Contractor

"When I started out, a mentor would have been ideal — someone I could count on to give me really good advice."

Steve Barkhouse is the third generation of his family to make a living in the construction business. Today, Steve’s Ottawa-based company, Amsted Design-Build, is a multiple award winner that completes up to 30 projects each year.

Many contractors set out to be as successful as Steve Barkhouse, yet fall by the wayside. Canadian Contractor asked Steve to tell us why he thinks he has succeeded. This interview was first published in Canadian Contractor’s print edition, May/June 2019. To subscribe to Canadian Contractor magazine, go to

Looking back, do you imagine your success could have happened any other way than it did?


The simple answer is “no” because if I changed anything, would I be where I am today? I graduated from university during the recession of the early 1990s and I couldn’t find a job. So I started up on my own. I love where I am today. However, I truly believe than that had I worked for someone else first, I would have been a great employee. I probably would have become very comfortable working for somebody else, and if they were fair to me I probably would have just stayed with them. On the other hand, it might have made my journey easier and quicker to have learned from someone before going on my own. When I think of my team now and how many hurdles, holes or ditches that I am able to help them avoid, it’s because I’ve already done that and I have already made that particular mistake.

This is an issue of mentorship?

That’s right. When I started out, a mentor would have been ideal — someone I could count on to give me really good advice.  And that would be my advice for anyone starting out today, for sure, whether it’s a mentor or a peer group. The mentoring I’ve received over the years through the peer groups Remodelers Advantage and, more recently, Next Level has transformed my company. You get to see how other companies are struggling with the exact same issues, trying to reinvent the wheel. There’s just no need for that.


NEXT: Part 2: What a true entrepreneur looks like



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