One component of the Behrends Group team that might not seem readily obvious but is monumentally important is the position of the lead estimator. An estimator is responsible for gathering proposals and designs, specifications and all other related documents in order to compute a cost for clients based on labor, material and time requirements to fabricate a project. They pre-emptively resolve cost discrepancies by being meticulous about collecting and analyzing information about any given project and prepare special reports for clients to assess when Behrends is bidding on a project, or we are approached for one. There is nothing worse than clients going to the competition and being told one price, only to be charged an inflated price instead. We strive to offer accurate estimates based on our quality materials and exceptional craftsmanship – and our clients are always satisfied.
Few people know the importance of their position better than Chris Marshall, lead estimator and plant manager with Behrends Group. Chris has been in the industry for many years and has overseen the production of most of Behrends’ highest profile projects. As an indispensable part of the Behrends team, we are happy to have Chris in charge of this important task, as a liaison between clients and our team.
Tell me a little bit about your personal history and what brought you to Behrends.
I was really sick of working at my previous job and had been applying for work with various companies. The father of a friend of mine was teaching quality control at Behrends at the time and put my name forward (he was already my reference) when he found out they were looking for someone. I’ve been here ever since.
Can you tell me about some of your favourite moments while working for the company?
I have tons of them. I really love the larger project installs we have done – our monumental pieces always stand out. There are always multiple people on site to ensure that the final product is executed properly and from a project management standpoint, it is really satisfying to see everything come together.
As the lead estimator, you are primarily responsible for estimating the cost of projects. What can you tell me about this particular aspect of your work?
I am responsible for making sure that the materials, labour and time it takes to design, fabricate and install pieces is accurate from the get-go to ensure that the client understands what they are getting into and to make sure that a project is realistic for what a client wants. I also do project management which involves coordination between people, dealing with clients regarding scheduling and time-lining the project and discussing any safety concerns that may arise.
Which kinds of products are responsible for doing the estimations on?
All of them. It doesn’t matter if the project is a simple plaque or a large entrance piece or large architectural features – all projects pass through my process of estimation before they go on to fabrication.
What sets this company apart from others? What, in your opinion, has made the company successful?
It is the quality of the work we produce, as well as the type of work we are capable of producing. There are really not many foundries, if any, in Canada that do what we do, nor are they capable of it. We are constantly evolving and changing, constantly venturing to do bigger and more exciting projects. We always seem to have the right people on our staff at the right time, given the broad range of projects that we have. We have consistently built partnerships and working relationships with the right kind of talent to suit the scope of our work.
What are some of the most memorable projects you have worked on so far? Do you have a favourite?
I love the brass doors we did for the St. Joseph’s seminary, and more recently, the Citadel Theatre work we did was excellent. We ended up doing their interior architectural work, as well as the exterior marquee sign.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love building things so you will usually find me helping a friend renovate or building a deck. If I’m not doing that, I’ll be drinking a beer!