After a year that shuttered small startups and brought the construction industry to a standstill, one young company – Summit Access Solutions of Caledon, Ontario – is thriving. Now in its third year, the construction access company started by industry veterans Kris Rodobolski and Dave Darling began operating in April of 2019 with a focus on complex scaffolding jobs and has expanded to include a number of offerings including swing stages, mast climbers, and shoring. The key to their success: ingenuity, expertise, and smart partnerships with key players like scaffolding supplier Layher.
In any business venture, startup capital is a priority – in construction, it’s especially critical for the purchase of materials. On-hand material makes work possible, begetting success. Plentiful material affords access to more, larger jobs and the ability to meet tighter turnarounds – both opportunities for increased profits. In contrast, a dearth of material results in missed opportunities and revenue. A new company with limited resources faces a paradox: you need materials to work, but you need to work to buy materials. In short, you need money. Or do you?
Financial institutions can be hesitant to lend to new companies, and rates are often less than favorable. Instead of the bank, founders Rodobolski and Darling strategized about a potential partnership with the very supplier that would be essential to his work – Layher scaffolding of Ontario. In late 2018, they contacted Layher sales rep, Ryan Freedman, and he pitched a financing option that would grant him immediate access to materials with the ability to pay back as the company grew. They were confident the deal would prove mutually beneficial when the company was successful.
But would Layher take a chance on a new company?
Freedman was initially taken aback – any such venture poses potential risk. Weighing strongly in Summit’s favor was the partnership between founders Rodobolski and Darling. Both came into the business with plentiful experience, trusted industry contacts, and a proven record of producing positive work. Further, both were committed to running a tight operation. In fact, the business involved just three full time workers – Darling to engineer and estimate, Rodobolski to execute, and an office manager for the day to day – with builders and additional workers contracted as needed.
In the end, Layher hedged and countered. Freedman agreed to conditional financing after the purchase of an initial lot. Rodobolski went for it, purchasing the first lot for just under 18,000 CAD. For the first few months, he delivered the materials himself while performing small jobs in tandem with Darling. Before long, Govan Brown awarded Summit a mixed use building in the Yorkville neighbourhood in Ontario. Soon, Summit was signing for an additional million dollars’ worth of materials.
Their First Big Break.
Summit’s first big break came in the form of a 260 ft mixed commercial space on 8 King Street for contractor Roof Tile Management. The project presented a year and a half of restoration work on a beautiful stone facade. “This was our largest project to date and the most demanding,” said Darling. The job included logistical challenges like heavy duty shoring necessary to sustain work over a subway shelter. “It was the first real chance to show what we could do,” said Rodobolski.
To meet the additional materials demand, Summit bought or rented from Layher. “As they built their cash flow, we allotted them credit to finance the product,” said Freedman. Among the materials required were heavy duty towers, steel beams, and the standard Layher Allround. Rodobolski credits Roof Tile Management for taking a chance on a new construction company. “They’ve been a great client.” said Rodobolski.
Since the job on King Street, Summit has grown dramatically. Now in its third year, Summit is on track to triple their revenue from the previous year, says Rodobolski, a feat they also accomplished in year two. They’ve added swing stages, mast climbers, and heavy duty shoring to their services, and their expanding list of clientele includes big names like EllisDon, PCL, GFL Environmental, Govan Brown, and more. We’re a package company, whether it’s a stair tower, mast climbing, [or] swing stages, we focus on the big complex job,” says Darling.
To accommodate demand, they’ve expanded operations to 16 office employees, with an additional 30 to 60 in the field, depending on need. Similarly, what started as a single truck driving operation, now includes a fleet of 15. The company also recently extended their materials yard.
Summit credits their growth and success in large part to their relationships with Layher scaffolding, client partnerships, and the Local 27 Carpenters Union. “Working together with Layher support and financing allowed us to grow,” said Rodobolski. Since that fateful first signature, Summit has financed numerous jobs, renting or buying from Layher as necessary to meet client needs. The payment plans also made it possible to hire additional employees and purchase additional trucks and gear.
Layher Allround gear, aluminum truss frames, and public access stairs are among their most requested products. “Guys in the field […] always choose Layher,” said Darling, “They absolutely love it; it’s lighter.” “Whether Layher is shipping to a jobsite or Summit is ordering for stock, they make it easy,” says Rodobolski, “For a long time Layher was our satellite yard.” Freedman reflected, “It’s also the culture you keep – everyone feels like it’s a home.”
Rodobolski and Darling recently opened a branch in Ottawa and are confident in their ability to expand upon their success. “We got the best guys, the best gear, and we design it the best,” said Rodobolski. “We choose Layher,” said Darling.