Forming a Legacy

RES Group of Companies

For 65 years, the RES Group of Companies has been involved in the concrete forming, masonry, and architectural precast concrete trades, in both the residential and ICI (industrial, commercial, and institutional) sectors, and is continuously active in dozens of projects.

Among the company’s successfully completed projects are some mammoth developments, including the head office towers of some of Canada’s largest banks including RBC and the Toronto-Dominion Centre, and many of Toronto’s finest hotels and suburban malls. There are also the internationally acclaimed McMaster University in Hamilton, the Federal Building in Hamilton, many high-rise condo towers up to 60 floors, the Toronto Reference Library, and a breadth of educational buildings.

Outside of the urban context, the RES Group has completed light industrial projects such as hydro substations, water treatment plants, TTC stations, tunnels, and bridges.

While most of the RES Group’s work has been in southern Ontario, the team has completed projects elsewhere in Canada, including Alberta, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland; and internationally in the U.S., Jamaica, and Qatar.

The RES Group comprises three divisions with over 600 employees: Resform Construction, the high-rise construction component of the business headquartered in Cookstown, Ontario; RES Precast, which, as the name suggests produces architectural pre-cast concrete at its plant in Innisfil, Ontario; and RES Masonry, also based in Cookstown, which performs masonry work and is how the company began its origins.

In the beginning
The roots of the RES Group, which has made such a dramatic impact on the skyline of the Greater Toronto Area, go back to the early 1950s when Amadio Scodeller, a young bricklayer from a village in the Friuli region of northern Italy, immigrated to Canada, bringing his understanding of a long tradition of finely crafted masonry work.

“He faced a lot of challenges in the beginning,” says Joe Di Leo, CEO and President of RES Pre-Cast, who is Scodeller’s son-in-law. “He didn’t know anyone in Toronto, there were language barriers since he didn’t speak English, and he was working 24/7 to try to make his business succeed. It was lots of hard work and long days.”

Eventually, Scodeller brought in others from his hometown in Italy, opened his own masonry company, and remained active until he passed at age 88 in 2019, according to his grandson Matthew Di Leo, who is now part of the management team at Resform Construction. “He was excited when I showed interest in the business.”

Sandro Brocca, who leads Resform Construction and was working with Amadio for 35 years, pays tribute to him. “We have people who’ve been here for most of their working lives, and it’s the people he attracted and the expertise they developed over the years that made us successful when we took on projects that others wouldn’t look at. We’re where we are today because of him,” he says.

“We like to say we are not in the concrete forming business, but instead we are in the people business,” he continues. “We’re able to procure the jobs we’ve done because of our people and our reputation, which began with Amadio.”

Building a company
Indeed, relationships are a key component in successfully building a company. “I’ve been in business for 35 years,” said Joe Di Leo, “and most of my work has been relationship-based. We perform work for a group of developers and construction managers, and those jobs are all related to jobs we’ve done in the past,” he says.

“Relationships are huge and one of our biggest assets. We have been around so long, gone through tough jobs and tough times and we made it through. There’s a reliability that we established with our brand. The developers we work with know we can do large-scale projects and make it to the end.”

The way the RES Group is structured has also given it a huge advantage because it can provide a combined solution by marrying its manufacturing and installation skills, allowing it to deliver true value. Each group can—and in some cases does—work independently, but when the services are packaged together as one and all the coordination happens internally within the RES Group, it makes things so much easier for the developer and the construction manager.

Taking separate sub-contractors out of the equation means that managers don’t have to coordinate between RES Precast and Resform Construction. The two companies work together to close the building envelope without all the extra details a construction manager would have to go through. If masonry work is required, then RES Masonry, led by Mark Russell, is standing by, ready to work.

Complex and comprehensive
For the last 65 years, RES Group has played an enormous role in providing structures for every aspect of urban living, from educational institutions such as the Humanities Building on the York University Campus, York Annex, Brampton Performing Arts Centre, and the Stephen Leacock Collegiate Institution to a number of P3 (private-public partnership) projects such as Oakville General Hospital, Joseph Brandt, and the Waterloo Courthouse.

There are many other key projects too, ranging from hotels—including the Toronto Hyatt Regency Hotel, The Hilton in Niagara, and the Inn on the Park—to less glamorous but necessary infrastructure such as underground tunnels. And let us not forget the current project of stunning cantilevered condominium towers. Although this publication tends not to go into intense technical detail, we couldn’t stop ourselves asking, “How did you do that?” when we saw the futuristic 61-story towers forming Phases One and Two of M City, a master-planned community in the centre of Mississauga, that is being developed by Rogers Real Estate and Urban Capital.

“They’re very tricky buildings,” Matthew Di Leo shares, explaining that I-beams are bolted into the floors, which is how the floors can be extended beyond the floor below them.

“A lot of engineering comes into play with the falsework that we use, so in this case we use large-scale I-beams and land our fly forms on top of them to extend the slab edges. To do that we had to use a substantial amount of heavy gauge steel equipment before we could cast in place with a stationary pump feeding concrete up the line into the slab.”

Adds Joe Di Leo, “A lot of companies can build straight point towers; for us that’s easy, but when the design calls for floors to be walked in and out, the field is narrow as to what kind of contractor can do that. Only a select few can.”

Coming full circle
In the 1960s, Scodeller received a contract to perform masonry work for the IBM Canada building, a sprawling complex that housed the head office, manufacturing plant, and software research lab, located at Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue East in Toronto.

This contract proved to be tremendously significant in more ways than one. “The IBM project was huge at the time,” Brocca says. “It’s how Amadio got the references to really move forward and is the reason we’re all here today.”

But there’s another reason why that original building is significant for the RES group. In recent years, IBM Canada vacated the site and relocated to Markham, Ontario, and Scodeller’s company is once again working on the 60-acre site, now being developed as a master-planned community by Aspen Ridge in what will be a milestone project known as Crosstown Condos.

Known as Crosstown Condos, the complex will consist of four buildings, including The Crest, a curving, eight-floor townhouse building. Another building on the site was removed to make space for three towers of 34, 39, and 45 floors which retain the historical façade of one of the IBM buildings with some of Scodeller’s original masonry work preserved. The master-planned community will contain condos, commercial office and retail space, and a community centre, surrounded by five acres of green space and walking trails. One tower is now almost complete, while the other two are awaiting sales.

“This is a major success for us,” says Brocca, who, according to Joe Di Leo, was instrumental in securing the Crosstown deal. “It shows our longevity and how we evolved from the company that did the original masonry for IBM to now redoing the landmark building and creating a huge residential complex.”

Amadio Scodeller would be proud.

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