Fabricators of First—and Lasting—Impressions

Ell-Rod Holdings Inc.
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Ell-Rod Holdings Inc. is a fabricator that specializes in custom architectural millwork for corporate and retail clients. For thirty years, under the leadership of co-owners Rod Finney and Sandy Smith, the company has developed the talent and the relationships that enable it to bring spaces to life.

With a team of 125 talented individuals who bring skill and dedication to the ranks at Ell-Rod, clients receive architectural woodwork and custom millwork of the highest quality, as well as commercial-grade cabinets, countertops, wood doors and frames, and other casework for projects.

Further to quality output and competitive pricing, what sets Ell-Rod apart is the support and service that its clients receive throughout the design, installation, and service process.

As Partner and President Rod Finney points out, other fabricators emphasize quality, and Ell-Rod is “no different in that way… but I think the biggest difference is our customer service and our expertise.”

At Ell-Rod Holdings Inc., service is fundamental and while meeting expectations is the standard, the team strives to provide project quality and service that’s unique in the market and keeps loyal clients returning time and again. From providing a seamless experience for its clients—be they architects, designers, general contractors, construction and property managers, or end users—to delivering projects of the highest quality, Ell-Rod continuously showcases its deeply-rooted knowledge and expertise through its work.

The team at Ell-Rod are “fabricators of first impressions,” creating transformative spaces that meet client needs. The dedicated service, attention to detail, and responsiveness of its team of professionals is second to none and through its talent development activities, Ell-Rod Holdings Inc. is sure to uphold its legacy of quality for generations to come.

A little-known fact about Ell-Rod Holdings Inc. is that it’s very much a family affair. With several long-tenured employees, many of whom are related, the team is a big family. “A lot of family members work here: fathers, sons, brothers, cousins, in-laws,” says Project Manager Sarah Mason.

She mentions the eight staff members who have been with Ell-Rod for the thirty years it’s been in operation: “Most of our employees [have been here for a long time.] Even our shorter-term employees average eight to ten years with us. When people come here, they don’t generally leave.”

Finney’s positive attitude with the team no doubt encourages this stability. “You’ve got to give kids a chance,” he says. “We try to hire young people; in fact, we could use about five to six more people in the shop, quality people or young people we can train.”

Experience is part of the special sauce at Ell-Rod, with a system in place to ensure that the knowledge and expertise of its tenured staff are shared with the next generation and not lost with attrition. Finney provides an example of an employee who is training his grandson, who at present is completing high school, to follow in his footsteps. “There’s no age limit at Ell-Rod; just because you are over sixty-five, we don’t say you have to retire. We have someone of seventy, of seventy-two, even of eighty-three. No one is forced to leave: stay as long as you are productive. It’s experience that the younger people can learn from.”

This goes both ways at Ell-Rod. Just as wisdom is passed down to the younger generation, advancements in technology are inspiring change within the operation that is leading to innovations that will support the company long into the future.

“We’re hiring younger people who are bringing in new ideas,” says Finney, “and using cloud-based technology to coordinate with site personnel.” This is the attitude that’s helping Ell-Rod compete at the front of the field from an operational and employee attraction and retention standpoint.

Located in the small town of Orono, just outside the Greater Toronto Area, Ell-Rod serves customers in Ontario, across Canada, and in the Caribbean. Despite this widespread presence in markets spanning Canada and beyond, the local impact of Ell-Rod Holdings cannot be understated.

Finney notes that Ell-Rod is one of the largest employers in the area, with a strong presence in the community and local economy—a real source of pride. Hiring local and supporting local businesses means that as the company grows, so too does its impact, and currently, Ell-Rod is in growth mode.

“We’re never more than four to six months ahead; that’s the type of business we’re in. It’s hard to believe, with 125 employees, but that’s a fact,” he shares. “Every day we generate sales. The economy is good in our business, but I think part of it is we’re one of the better players so we’re getting our fair share.”

Having been in the business since 1981, Finney and Smith’s passions still burn bright. As heads of the company, they still are two of the first people in the building each day, with Finney overseeing the daily operations and staff, while Smith, who serves as Partner and Secretary/Treasurer, keeps his eye on all the financial aspects of the operation as well as the end-to-end project progress.

“My partner and I are very hands-on,” says Finney. “We’re here all day, every day. We’re here at 4:45 a.m. and there are a couple of other guys here at 4:15 a.m. every day. Our employees all know that they can call us at 5 a.m. and our customers know that they’re going to get one of us. I think that’s a big part of that service that makes us different and better. There are a lot of great cabinet shops out there but I just don’t think they do it like we do,” says Finney. “If someone calls here, we return their call promptly … We’ll have someone out that day to service them if we can.”

Whether it’s a $500 or $5 million project, Ell-Rod Holdings Inc. still takes immense pride in answering the phone and servicing its clients—a good reason why its reputation continues to grow with each project.

Of course, however dedicated Finney and Smith are, nothing—even the exceptional projects Ell-Rod contributes to—lasts forever, and to ensure that there’s not a tremor in the company’s smooth progress when the hand on the helm changes, a succession plan is in place.

The plan, Mason notes, is “to put people in place who can help run it as successfully as Rod and Sandy have done these last thirty years—teaching people what they know.”

One thing is certain, however: the hard work and dedication is worth it. Celebrating thirty years in any business is quite an achievement and while the team at Ell-Rod will take a heartfelt moment to celebrate this milestone, business continues to be… well, business as usual.

The goal is to “keep doing what we’re doing,” says Finney. That means delivering service and projects of a quality that will continue to enhance its name in the community and the market, locally and nationally, for generations to come.



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