About ACS


About ACS


Meet ACS: Our Commercial Construction Company’s Evolution

Today, Ashton Construction Services (ACS) is the Bow Valley’s largest commercial construction firm. But like many businesses, ACS started from humble beginnings. Founder Steve Ashton’s love for construction dates back to childhood, when he was first introduced to the industry.

“My father owned a structural engineering firm and he would teach me any time he got a chance,” Steve says. “We renovated our homes, built a cottage in Ontario, and worked in our woodshop every weekend. He took the time to explain why buildings are built the way they are so I would understand them, and instilled in me a love for construction.”

For Steve and the ACS team, construction has always been about relationships, community, and turning dreams into reality. In this article, we’ll explore the company’s story, its commitment to being an industry leader, and the partnerships it has forged along the way.

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From a one-man show to a team of 30

Days spent in his family’s woodshop eventually led Steve to launch his first construction company, a chair building business, at the age of 16. He later worked in the trades for several years, then went on to study civil engineering technology at SAIT in 2004.

Over the next seven years, Steve gained experience in roles from estimating to field engineering, working his way up to a project manager position with Graham Construction and Engineering, a large Calgary-based firm. But by 2011, the Bow Valley was calling Steve home. He took a job with a local firm, then in 2014, decided to strike out on his own and launched ACS.

“I wanted to work for myself after building my own home in Canmore,” Steve says. “I also saw the need for another commercial construction management firm in the Valley.”

ACS got started with project management and cost consulting work for Devonian Properties, then its first major project quickly followed. This was the main soap factory and corporate head office renovation for Rocky Mountain Soap Co. 

“We started as a one-man show with just me on the tools and in the office,” Steve says. “We have always grown to suit the projects we take on, and we keep taking on bigger and higher profile ones every day. We’re still working for Devonian Properties and Rocky Mountain Soap, but we’re now a team of 30.”

Steve is proud that ACS has established an excellent culture, a solid vision and strategy for the company, and good core values.

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Also key to the Canmore, Alberta construction firm’s success is the fact that it has the right team members in the right positions to keep things running smoothly. This includes the industry partnerships ACS has built with local architects, designers, and sub-trades. These relationships enable the firm to deliver on its mission to build great relationships, create happiness, and turn dreams into reality.

Commercial construction facilities and technology designed for success

As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work; and it’s no secret that people appreciate having an excellent space to come to work. This is why ACS bought a 6,000-square foot building in Canmore to run its operations from; with 4,000 square feet of the facility being office space (the rest being a storage and workshop area).

The recently renovated office provides modern, energy efficient, comfortable spaces for all team members with state of the art amenities. ACS is also in the process of installing solar panels, which will be operational in summer 2023 and should offset the majority of the company’s electricity usage.

“We also have a fleet of modern, fuel efficient vehicles that provide our people with safe and reliable transportation,” Steve says. “We even have an e-bike. We’re trying our best to help the planet while giving our team members the opportunity to get outside.”

Pride in its diverse team runs deep at ACS. The firm is on a mission to be the best employer in the Bow Valley. ACS is committed to being an equal opportunity employer and, unique to the construction industry, has a lot of female team members. But attracting and retaining top talent takes work, and having efficient systems and processes is a key part of the equation.

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“We use industry leading software, and we’ve developed systems to integrate our software so we can get our people the information they need to better run our projects,” Steve says. “We have committees to ensure this progression keeps happening and we never stop modernizing.”

ACS’ commitment to innovative technology doesn’t only benefit the team, it’s also a huge advantage for the commercial construction management firm’s clients.

For example, ACS’ accounting and project management software automatically share data between one another to analyze and update project budgets so the company can track project costs in real time. This sets ACS apart from other Alberta construction firms that struggle to understand how profitable (or not) a given project is while under construction.

“We pride ourselves on leading the industry with our level of organization and predictability,” Steve says.

In addition, as part of its project management program, ACS uses and updates schedules weekly, and holds weekly progress meetings with all relevant project stakeholders to review project safety, schedules, budgets, and any other issues that need discussion. The firm also keeps detailed logs of all questions, submittals, changes, and issues.

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An exemplary safety record

ACS’ industry-leading practices go beyond its approach to team building and technology, and extend into the field where the company maintains a stellar safety record.

“Safety is front and centre all the time,” Steve says. “Not only do we have an excellent record, we have a robust safety program with a Certificate of Recognition (COR).”

As part of its safety program, ACS uses an industry leading electronic safety system that provides site personnel and visitors with access to safety orientations and hazard assessment tools. A safety tracking dashboard allows the company to manage and monitor compliance with its safety program. In addition, ACS’ internal health and safety committee works to improve these systems and keep employees’ voices heard so they remain safe. As a result of this robust safety program, ACS has zero lost time accidents in the history of the company.

A focus on community

ACS is not only focused on building meaningful relationships with its team, clients, and partners. As a local business with deep roots in the community, the company is also dedicated to giving back.

“Our families live in the Bow Valley, and our business has grown and expanded here,” Steve says. “We have an annual Community Give Back day where our entire team donates our construction services for the day to do something for our community.”

In addition, ACS supports local non=profit organizations that hire the firm by lowering its fees and giving these organizations a break as they fight to carry out their own missions. A few clients ACS has partnered with in this way include Spirit North, Rocky Mountain Adaptive, Pine Tree Players, Canmore Community Housing Corporation, and local churches like Trinity Bible Church and the Ralph Connor Memorial United Church.

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What’s next for ACS

Collaboration and teamwork have been essential to ACS’ success and its ability to drive results for its clients. Strong relationships will continue to be top of mind as the commercial construction firm maps out its plans for the future.

“Our current strategic plan expires at the end of 2024,” Steve says. “We have a little more than a year and a half to get the company to a point where we hope to have a great pipeline of work ahead of us to sustain us, the right team members in the right positions, and our technology, data, and systems nailed.”

ACS will also be reaching a significant milestone in 2024: its 10th birthday.

“That will hopefully be the year we become employee-owned,” Steve says. “Our people are always a priority, and we’ll be keeping our core values top of mind: happiness, honesty, relationships, accountability, and passion.”

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A trusted construction management partner

Working with a firm you can trust is imperative when it comes to construction, especially in today’s economic climate.

“You can’t control every aspect of a job, but as soon as our clients put their trust in us, they don’t regret it. We save them money, get the project done, and always act with their best interests in mind,” Steve says. “The proof is there in our repeat clientele and positive referrals.”

If you’re looking for impeccably delivered construction services, contact the ACS team today to find out how we can help bring your project to life.

Photos: Eva Urbanska Photography

Case study by Scribe National

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