Retail Project

Case Study
Rocky Mountain Soap Co.

Retail Project

Case Study
Rocky Mountain Soap Co.

How Rocky Mountain Soap Co Completes 100% of Construction Projects on Time and on Budget with ACS

Rocky Mountain Soap Company Logo
Rocky Mountain Soap Co - Retail Store 2 - Banff, Alberta

Photo: Lua Williams Photography

A national brand

Rocky Mountain Soap Co has grown from having one staff member and a 450-square foot space to a team of 200 employees and retail locations across Canada. When the company needed a new workshop to produce its products, Rocky Mountain Soap teamed up with Ashton Construction Services (ACS). They’ve been partners ever since.

A trusting relationship

Rocky Mountain Soap Co trusts ACS to consistently build construction programs to the budgets allocated, and align the designs with the functionality of the spaces. The company has worked with ACS’ skilled team on numerous projects from retail offices to manufacturing facilities over the past decade.

A customer-service driven approach

Every project ACS has completed for Rocky Mountain Soap has been finished on time and on budget. The two companies have also recently started work on two new projects together, in the shared spirit of their passion for customer service and providing high-quality products.

AT A GLANCE

  • 7 completed turnkey projects and 2 underway
  • 9-day turnaround for downtown Banff Avenue store renovation
  • 100% of projects completed on time and on budget
  • 9-year partnership and counting

ACS is honest and they meet timelines and budgets. They consistently meet our expectations, and that’s rare in this industry. They’re very customer service-driven.”

Cam Baty, Rocky Mountain Soap Co

Rocky Mountain Soap Co - Retail Store 3 - Banff, Alberta

Photo: Lua Williams Photography

Naturally driven

Rocky Mountain Soap Co is a Canmore, Alberta-based manufacturer and retailer of natural personal care products. Partners in business (and in marriage) Karina Birch and Cam Baty bought the business in 2000. At the time, the duo was in their early twenties. The company had only one employee, $86,000 in annual sales, and 450 square feet of space to produce its products.

Today, Rocky Mountain Soap has 200 staff and retail locations across Canada. The company has won more than a dozen awards; and continues to craft products made from only high-quality natural ingredients that are safe for its customers and for the planet. Choosing natural ingredients isn’t a trend for Rocky Mountain Soap—it’s a way of life.

Rocky Mountain Soap Co - Retail Store - Banff, Alberta 5

Photo: Lua Williams Photography

Bringing an ambitious vision to life

In 2014, as Rocky Mountain Soap was growing rapidly, Karina and Cam decided the company needed a new workshop to produce its products. They purchased a building and began seeking a construction company to handle a $1.5 to $2 million renovation of the space. The building had three levels, including a parkade in the basement and a dozen individual bays on the two floors above.

“We wanted to gut the interior and create a main level and a second level manufacturing space with offices. We also needed to reinforce the floors to handle the load and put in an elevator,” says Cam Baty, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Owner of Rocky Mountain Soap. “We were looking for someone to handle the project from start to finish.”

At the time, this was the biggest project Rocky Mountain Soap had ever undertaken, and it carried a lot of risk. Karina and Cam wanted to find an experienced construction company that they could trust to deliver on their big vision.

Finding the right level of experience and cultural fit

When Cam first encountered Ashton Construction Services nearly a decade ago, he was impressed by the team’s enthusiasm and professionalism. “I had the perception that ACS’ skill level was high based on Steve—the owner’s—background working for other large contracting companies before he started the firm,” Cam says. “The team had the chops, they were keen and energetic, and had great personalities.” So, while Rocky Mountain Soap was initially considering other firms for its workshop project, the company ultimately chose ACS. The two businesses have been working together ever since, and Rocky Mountain Soap is ACS’ longest-term client.
Rocky Mountain Soap Co - Retail Store - Banff, Alberta 4

Photo: Lua Williams Photography

Nearly a decade-long partnership

ACS made a lasting impression on Karina and Cam after the Canmore workshop project. As a result, over the better part of a decade, Rocky Mountain Soap has trusted ACS for numerous construction projects:

 

  • Summer 2015: Canmore factory and office
  • Winter 2015: Bar soap factory improvements
  • Winter 2017: Liquid soap factory improvements
  • Summer 2019: Rooftop patio at Canmore office
  • Winter 2019: Banff Avenue store renovations
  • Winter 2020-2021: Downtown Canmore store improvements
  • Spring-Summer 2021: Hand sanitizer facility
Rocky Mountain Soap Co - Board Meeting Room - Canmore, Alberta

The Banff Avenue store renovation was a particularly unique project as ACS completed it in nine straight days. This fast turnaround enabled Rocky Mountain Soap to align the renovation with its rebrand that the company was rolling out at that time. The end result was a huge transformation, including a custom demonstration sink, which is the store’s main feature for customers to try out products in.

“I didn’t have to step foot in the store once during the Banff renovation,” Cam says. “ACS was super quick, they had crews going at night, and I could be completely out of it and trust that they’d handle it from start to finish.”

The hand sanitizer facility design build project (an innovative approach that saves time and money) was also unique because it involved working with ethanol. This required an HVAC engineer to design life safety systems accordingly. All owner-supplied equipment was ordered from China and required Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certification for safety purposes. Completing the certification process is complex and time intensive, but ACS’ dedicated team was happy to handle every step.

Rocky Mountain Soap Co - HQ Rooftop Patio - Canmore, Alberta

In 2023, Rocky Mountain Soap is partnering with ACS on two more projects: a new flagship store in downtown Canmore, and a new project in Canmore’s Bow Meadows industrial district that involves building both residential and commercial spaces.

“I’m one of several investors in the Bow Meadows project, and I advocated hard to get ACS involved because I knew they could take care of everything from getting the permits, to coordinating with the engineers, to creating the budgets, to completing the build,” Cam says. “They’ll just hand over the keys at the end. Not many companies in the Bow Valley can take it from start to finish, and that takes a load off when you don’t have a lot of internal resources for those things.”

“ACS can take care of every aspect of construction from start to finish. Not many companies in the Bow Valley can do that, and it takes a load off when your company doesn’t have a lot of internal resources for those things.”

Cam Baty, Rocky Mountain Soap Co

Rocky Mountain Soap Co - Manufacturing Warehouse - Canmore, Alberta 2

Every project completed on time and on budget

Rocky Mountain Soap highly values the trustworthy nature of how ACS does business. “ACS is honest and they meet timelines and budgets,” Cam says. “They consistently meet our expectations, and that’s rare in this industry. They’re very customer service-driven and they understand that word of mouth and customer retention is key.” The company also appreciates ACS’ professionalism. “You get budgets in detail—it’s not back-of-a-napkin small town contractor stuff,” Cam says. “ACS has the software, experience, processes, and a good team.” For Cam, the biggest benefit of working with ACS is that it frees up his time to get out of the day-to-day work associated with construction projects. However, the partnership has further-reaching effects on Rocky Mountain Soap’s business as a whole. “We hope the new flagship store will have a great effect on our customers and brand,” Cam says. “And with the workshop and offices, we try to create a great environment for our team to be in. The quality of our offices has set us apart locally.”
Rocky Mountain Soap Co - Manufacturing Warehouse - Canmore, Alberta

Plans for future growth

Rocky Mountain Soap plans to continue to grow, and to keep its manufacturing facility in Canmore. The company hopes to double in size in the next five years, and having solid partnerships will be critical. “As long as everything continues to go the way it always has, I don’t shop competitively,” Cam says. “Steve’s our guy, and that’s it. ACS is fair and they’ll get the job done. It won’t be a hassle and they’ll be collaborative.” Cam adds that while working on a cost-plus basis comes with a bit of risk, it’s a great move for companies if they’re in a position where they can trust their construction firm. “Overall, cost-plus gets you a better project price rather than a fixed price where a contractor would have to build in risk factors. But that’s only possible for us because I trust ACS’ budgets.”

Case study by Scribe National

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