Developing a passion for the building industry at an early age, Nick Ainis remembers setting up a make-believe office in the family garage with his cousin and future partner Jim Ainis. “We were pretending to sell real estate,” says Nick.
That fascination with real estate seems to be a trait that came down through the family.
Nick’s entrepreneurial great-grandfather came to Canada from Macedonia in the early 1900s and became involved in the restaurant and banquet hall business, along with the building sector. Nick and Jim were also inspired by their fathers, who were involved in insurance and real estate brokerage after emigrating from Greece.
“I guess the real estate and construction industry is in my blood,” says Nick. The co-founder and CEO of Fusioncorp Developments, self-made Ainis earned a Bachelor of Technology degree in Architectural Science and Project Management from Ryerson University before immersing himself in the construction industry.
One of his first jobs was a $5,000 bathroom renovation. Soon, he began working for developers, steadily gaining experience on large projects including a 12-storey/five-level-underground building in Toronto’s Yorkville area at Bay and Cumberland, and later the Pantages Towers on Victoria Street.
Near the heart of the city’s downtown at Yonge and Dundas, the sleek 44-storey structure was one of the tallest at the time in all of Canada.
Growing by knowing
Growing his knowledge and fuelled by his passion for construction, Nick incorporated Fusioncorp Developments in 2005. Starting off as a part-time operation, Fusioncorp became a full-time endeavour in 2007. Joined by his cousin Jim, who today serves as principal and vice-president, Fusioncorp steadily grew its client base, and became registered with Tarion – a not-for-profit consumer protection organization founded by the Ontario Government to oversee the new home warranty program – in 2010.
“At the beginning it was just the two of us,” says Nick. “Today, we have close to 30 employees, and have grown and learned a lot.”
Part of the learning experience for Fusioncorp is getting to know its markets inside and out.
The construction company behind many successful small to large-scale, multi-unit residential and commercial developments, Fusioncorp has forged a reputation for expertise in medium-density projects. From project management services to new constructions, refurbishment, renovation, custom homes and commercial construction, Fusioncorp’s projects encompass low-rise and mid-rise, condos, and conversions.
Wide experience, wide expertise
Taking on projects ranging from about $20 million to $60 million, the company also has a general contracting division responsible for smaller, mainly fixed-price works up to $5 million.
“We cover a wide range of mid-rise types of projects,” says Ainis of Fusioncorp, which operates within a two-hour radius of Toronto, going as far east to the Niagara region as Belleville, and as far north as Georgian Bay and Collingwood.
Taking on different constructions, including low- and mid-rise wood frame, pre-cast, cast-in-place condominiums, conversions of historic buildings, commercial buildings, office buildings and others, the company also covers many mid-rise type projects and conversions.
“We are always interested in doing amazing modern homes, and design/build,” says Ainis. The company also has a design/build partnership in general contracting with a well-known Toronto firm.
At present, Fusioncorp is handling preliminary work on a super home project in the Georgian Bay area, which, when complete, will measure between 9,000 and 10,000 square feet.
Many of the company’s baseline projects are in the mid-rise, 150-unit range of about 150,000 square feet. For Ainis and his team, smaller condos present more of a financial challenge. “We see a lot of stacked townhouse projects,” he says, “and we cater a lot to new-development companies as well.”
From wood panelization to cast-in-place concrete systems, Fusioncorp’s expertise encompasses a wide range of building types and sizes. These include low-rise condos such as the Roncesvalles Lofts, mid-rise works like Amik II and Amik III, the Garment Factory Lofts conversion, commercial works (College Office Building, Firkin on the Danforth), and general contracting projects Gatehouse, Markham Road and The Palisades.
Values and vision
Founded on construction knowledge and guided by the values of integrity, safety, longevity, sustainability and transparency, Fusioncorp Developments is proud of its track record as one of the most accountable and open boutique construction / project management and general contracting companies in Canada.
As a key point of difference from some other construction organizations, Fusioncorp is less about one-off projects than about forging lasting relationships and moving forward with clients into the future.
Along with delivering works professionally – on-time and on-budget – Fusioncorp’s customer commitment includes meticulous planning, problem-solving, transparency, safety, sustainability, and always working in the best interest of the client by keeping them informed from project inception to completion.
To ensure the company maintains its dedication to all clients, Fusioncorp has built a team of dedicated staff who are not only professionals in the field but uphold its values.
“We want people who have experience in the construction industry, primarily multi-unit residential construction, as project managers and site supervisors,” says Ainis of the family-oriented business. “And we are also interested in making sure we have people who have the right attitude and are the best fit for our company. Our culture is hard work and fun, but we also want people who are honest and loyal.”
On Fusioncorp’s website, Nick Ainis points out that the company is building a green future and scrutinizes every project through this lens.
“We strive to achieve that goal by assessing your project from an environmentally responsible perspective. While our obligation and responsibility to the planet is incorporated into our daily practices, as builders and project leaders we are committed to developing a sustainability plan that is within your means and budget to help ‘build a green future’ for our planet.”
Responsible for a number of LEED-certified projects over the years, Ainis acknowledges that although sustainability is a company-wide touchstone, there are plenty of trends in the construction sector that need to be considered.
“It’s an old-school industry, and change does not happen quickly,” he says. Although many municipalities have adopted sustainable buildings and more green standards than a few years ago, Canada could be further ahead with green building.
“We have a passion for innovation, and we have a passion for technology, so as a company we’re looking to see where the trends are and aiming to be at the forefront of those trends.”
As a veteran of the construction industry, Nick Ainis follows Canada’s housing shortage very closely. For things to improve, however, he believes the government must change how it handles the issue. Ainis doesn’t mince words: “We need the government out of that. We need them not to create policies: they need to be a partner in this.”
Canada’s construction sector is already facing many challenges, from a shortage of skilled tradespeople to rising material costs. Wanting to build affordable housing is one thing – having the resources and funds to do it is something else.
“We need tradespeople and labour to build it,” he says. “So when situations arise like this, we need to think outside the box and create new solutions. Maybe those solutions just don’t exist right now. And as an industry, it’s a challenge how to make housing more affordable, and how to create more housing for the larger population. We need innovative solutions, and those don’t come from the government, they come from private companies, and innovation comes from the marketplace.”
From concept development, budgeting, and scheduling to estimating and tenders, contractor and project management, cost control and quality control, risk analysis and more, Fusioncorp works with clients to create strategic, custom-tailored services to fit their exacts project needs.
“We consider ourselves very creative, adaptable and innovative,” he says. “We are a company of integrity, and we want to maintain that. There are a lot of good companies out there, and we are one of them.”