A house is often made into a home by the loving bonds of a family that lives in it. But even the barebones construction of a house requires a whole lot of time, dedication, attention to detail, and love for the job because only then a quality house can be built, one that lasts a family for generations to come.
This cohesion of construction and family that makes a home is exemplified by Crystal Consulting Inc – a construction business that is being functioned by the Sangha family and operates on family values. Garry Sangha is the CEO of the company, and his brother-in-law Kuldeep Singh Chohan is the COO. Both of them followed their father’s legacy, Ajit Sangha, in the construction business. After moving to Canada from a small farming village in Punjab, Ajit worked as a laborer in a drywall company in 1997. Eventually, drywall would come to describe the family legacy.
When Garry and Kuldeep approached Ajit to form CCI, they didn’t have a substantial background in the BC Construction industry, and their assets were minimal to back the start-up. What the family had was the belief that much more could be done in the space of this industry and was waiting for someone innovative to occupy it.
Crystal Consulting (Drywall) Inc. was then founded in 2005. As a drywall company, it would initially work in multi-family concrete residential projects. Today the family has progressed to being a major presence across the BC construction space. Since then, Crystal Consulting has grown immensely and has introduced CCI Waterproofing, Crystal Consulting Group of Companies, CCI Alberta, Kanin Construction Management, CCI Masonry, and the CCI Group Mental Health Society.
Gary says, “What we build must have value. I grew up playing sports, and similarly, in business, it takes time, dedication, and practice to be good. The thing about family, sport, and business is that everyone must share a vision/belief system and work to common objectives to achieve real success.”
Kuldeep adds, “It is a blessing what we have done as a family. While we all work hard to achieve success, we are not so vain to think we did it on our own. Everybody who has, does, or will work with us makes a real contribution to how we move forward. Moreover, as a business, we are grateful for the trust our clients give when awarding us work and thankful to all the trades and suppliers that work with us to realize our construction objectives.”
In an exclusive interview with Insights Success, Gary and Kuldeep share an immigrant family’s dream of building a legacy that lasts.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Briefly describe your professional journey up until now.
Garry Sangha: I grew up in a loving and supportive family that emphasized family values, a high degree of community involvement, and an honest work effort. Alongside my brother-in-law Kuldeep Singh Chohan, we joined my father, Ajit Sangha, in starting Crystal Consulting Inc.
We were already working together on construction projects, and it was time to branch out on our own to build a family legacy in Canada, much as my father had in India. We sacrificed and made every necessary effort to grow our business. We had a real desire to distinguish ourselves in the scale of the project we could take on and to honor our commitments to our clients.
This clear differentiation is what allowed us to be partners with the largest developers in Canada and to expand our business scope to the extent that today we too are becoming a major developer with the intention to quickly approach in scale that of our peers who we have served for the last two decades and with every intention to continue serving. We intend to be one of BC’s anchor companies, one that has an obvious impact on the skylines in the major cities in the province.
Kuldeep Singh Chohan: Like many new immigrants to Canada, I found my start in my adopted country in construction. Early on, I found that I had a passion for the trade and quickly became a master in framing, drywalling, and finishing. I also had a keen eye for investing and built a portfolio of properties locally and in the US.
I married Sandeep Sangha and, as such, became a son to Ajit Sangha, the Patriarch of the family, and Brother to Garry Sangha. We were a powerful team and together formed Crystal Consulting Inc. I took the operational lead from the start building up the company’s field capabilities at impressive speed. Today, I am highly respected in the construction community as an inspiring leader who is as fair in dealing as strong technically in his construction knowledge.
What challenges did you face along the way?
Garry Sangha: I could say that we faced the challenges that any other immigrant did, but really, I view my heritage as a strength and my upbringing as something to be leveraged. The real challenge is the speed of growth and backfilling policy in structure to ensure that we never make the same mistake twice.
Growing a business means always being outside your comfort zone and willing to take on substantive personal risk every day. A leader needs to have a thick skin and the confidence to move forward even when others place doubt in your mind. Truly, you also have to work on yourself to overcome doubt and ride on optimism. You can make mistakes in business, but only if you are always in an adaptive and dynamic operating mode.
Kuldeep Singh Chohan: I broke into the industry despite a language barrier. The wonderful thing about construction is that your hands do the talking. My superior building capability allowed me to shine. Moreover, a strong sense of community and spiritualism tied me closely to those that I worked for and those that worked for me. I am very giving of my time, contributing to community projects and causes. I live by the example of the adage, ‘what you give is what you get.’
What significant impact have you brought to the Construction industry?
Kuldeep Singh Chohan: We built one of the largest construction forces in BC. I am known across the province for my work, and I attract, mentor, and guide new recruits into the family business at a rapid pace. I try to embody inclusiveness, and while I am quiet, I speak with my actions, moving the workforce to achieve an amazing amount of new building construction at a quality that is difficult to match.
Garry Sangha: Kuldeep and I are totally focused on schedule and quality. I truly believe that we are unique in the province in how we approach construction and our ability to deliver the highest quality work on schedule. Our systemized approach is a massive CCI strength.
Tell us about Crystal Consulting Inc and its foundation pillar.
Garry Sangha: Crystal Consulting Inc comes out of the broad construction experience we derived in CCI, and it extends much beyond drywall. Our clients recognized the scope of deliverables that we had become proficient in and the fact that our problem-solving capability went well beyond the services we were delivering. The next logical step was to take on the full scope of construction management and include the full scope of trades management formally as opposed to just using technical influence.
Kuldeep Singh Chohan: Family is what makes us strong. We respect each other; we respect those that honor us with their work and those that work for us. Family is a spiral that continuously grows outward. With each new home we build, we add to our family. There can be hundreds of people in a new building and thousands in a new development. We must be fair to those that will invest in what we have built and ensure that their homes are of the highest quality. We build for them that which we would expect for ourselves.
How does Crystal Consulting Inc promote workforce flexibility, and what is your role in it?
Kuldeep Singh Chohan: We have hired and worked alongside thousands of people while we have been in business. We allow people to grow and show them a way to succeed. Many of the people that have worked for us have left to start their own businesses. We support this entrepreneurship and celebrate their initiative.
While those that work for us must adhere to our construction practices, we support them in many ways and see their family as our family. We do our best to provide a path for people to get to where they want to in life. As part of the community, we must have empathy and flexibility.
Garry Sangha: Construction is a highly structured business. Process, systems, and safety are paramount. The schedule is not subject to negotiation. That said, the business is keen on professional advancement and inclusion. We are an open workplace that welcomes all qualified and keen individuals into the fold.
Training, mentorship, and promotion based on contribution are integral parts of our culture. We expect loyalty and are extremely loyal to our employees. We understand that daily life does impact the ability to work, and we are compassionate and flexible in accommodating the vagaries that impact all of us. As a leader, I communicate my expectations clearly and also lay out what is required for each individual to achieve personal success.
What is your take on technology’s importance, and how are you leveraging it?
Kuldeep Singh Chohan: We are always happy to try new tools and methods. Given the scale of our activities, there is always an opportunity to give a new technology or approach a chance. If it works, we adopt it quickly and roll it out across the organization. We are agile in this regard.
Industry standards and community expectations also drive our technology adoption. These days we are paying a lot of attention to sustainability and our impact on the environment. We are always trying to green our building practices.
Garry Sangha: Construction is a traditional field and one of the oldest industries in existence. We all still marvel at the monuments built by ancient cultures that still stand today thousands of years after they were built. We do not expect our structures to still stand a thousand years from now, but we do build to last.
We take the basic foundations of construction and apply modern methods and materials. Automation and connectivity are key features of today’s homes, and we embrace those technologies as well as standards and methods to achieve sustainability and greener buildings. From a work management perspective, we employ software that improves construction management and communication between all stakeholders.
What will be the next significant change in the construction industry, and how are you preparing for it?
Kuldeep Singh Chohan: Green is the new gold standard. People will measure your quality and value not only on what you deliver but on your ability to show your reduction of GHG consumption or minimal environmental impact.
Garry Sangha: I think more than in the recent path, developments have a focus on community and lifestyle. Buyers have an expectation of superior design and livability as well as unique amenities that enhance daily life. We take great care in the design phase to architect a building that embodies lifestyle choices for a diverse buying public. Global warming is also a paramount issue, and the building industry has a responsibility to include green technologies and choose less impactful materials and building methods.
What are your goals for the upcoming future?
Garry Sangha: I want us to be an anchor group of companies in BC. We should be recognized as an employer of choice and a substantive contributor to the economy. Our children should be proud of what we have accomplished as a family and behave in ways that are supportive of our community. Like the developers we serve, we will be a company that leaves a lasting mark on the skylines of our cities.
Kuldeep Singh Chohan: I want to see our children benefit from our hard work and continue in our community contributions. They do not have to do what we have done, they can make their own way, but I’d want to see them be generous in spirit.
We developed the CCI Group Mental Health Society to address a common issue in our society. This cause and the support of others is important to us. Being successful in business means that we can have a big impact, not only directionally but financially, in bettering our communities. I want our family to be seen as humble contributors.
What advice would you like to give the next generation of aspiring business leaders?
Garry Sangha: There is no hiding in business. Life is transparent, and what you do as a business leader will affect the longevity of your business and how you are perceived in the community. More importantly, your actions will shape the behavior of your children and those close to you. At all times, you should work to inspire others to be like you.
Kuldeep Singh Chohan: You must always try to be your best and share your knowledge freely. Personal power does not come from hoarding knowledge or keeping secrets. It comes from allowing others to join you in your path and shining the light in the darkness. We have been able to build such a wonderful workforce because we communicate directly and are not afraid to share what we know. It is then up to that person to do what they can with what they learn from you.