Canadian Contractor

John Bleasby   

Part 2 of What Steve Said! Steve Barkhouse on mistakes and the passion it takes to overcome them

"If you don’t think you’re going to get tested, don’t go into business."

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

What do you say to a young person trying to maintain their entrepreneurial spirit in the face of a major setback early on?

I don’t think I’d have to say anything. If they are a true entrepreneur, they will understand that mistakes are part of the game. They won’t fear them. They will have the passion, persistence, and ambition to overcome their mistakes and to learn from them. They will recognize that these are not character flaws or personal failures, just mistakes, and they will put them behind quickly and move on. If you don’t think you’re going to get tested, don’t go into business. I sit on the board of Algonquin College and I can tell you, Algonquin is trying to bring the spirit of entrepreneurship into all their courses. Businesses want to hire entrepreneurial people who have the ability to learn, to really understand the problem, to listen to the client, and find solutions creatively. Perseverance and courage are big, big things that every business needs.

NEXT: Part 3: Developing a business plan


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