Navigating the Financials and Risk Management in Selecting Drywall Contractors for Large Commercial Projects

By Lisa Lehwald, CFO of RWC Systems

When embarking on a large commercial construction project, selecting subcontractors, particularly drywall contractors, requires more than just evaluating their technical capabilities. As someone who has navigated the complexities of risk management and finance in the construction industry, I’ve seen firsthand the critical importance of financial diligence and risk assessment. Drawing from my experiences as a CFO of RWC Systems and a former Risk Insurance Analyst for PCL Construction, I’m here to share some invaluable advice on mitigating financial risks when choosing a drywall subcontractor.

Understanding the Financial Health of Your Subcontractor

One of the primary concerns for general contractors (GCs) is the financial stability of subcontractors. The fear of a subcontractor running out of funds mid-project is not unfounded. Such scenarios can lead to unfinished work, delayed projects, and a scramble to find replacement contractors at a higher cost. To avoid these pitfalls, it’s essential to thoroughly assess your subcontractors’ financial health.

The Importance of Bonding and Insurance

When subcontractors cannot provide a GC with a bond option, this presents a red flag/significant risk. For larger, more complex projects, it’s advisable to ensure that subcontractors have their bonds available, if requested. At RWC Systems, we maintain a high bonding capacity for our industry, which is particularly beneficial for large bids such as stadiums and hospitals. This safeguards the project and relieves the GC’s internal insurance from additional risk.

Assessing Working Capital and Financial Resilience

A subcontractor’s ability to manage their finances, especially working capital, is paramount. This liquidity is crucial for sustaining projects, especially when GCs typically retain the holdback until the completion of their work.

The subcontractor’s financial resilience is particularly important especially if they are juggling multiple projects. If a subcontractor cannot provide financial statements or there are signs of delayed payments to their employees, consider it a red flag.

Evaluating Project Backlog and Client Satisfaction

A substantial backlog might seem like a sign of a successful subcontractor, but it can also indicate overextension. Assess how the subcontractor plans to manage this workload without compromising quality or timelines. 

Furthermore, go beyond reference projects presented on a website or presentation and seek out direct feedback from past clients. Happy clients willing to discuss their experiences, along with written testimonials, provide a more accurate picture of the subcontractor’s reliability and quality of work.

Selecting a drywall subcontractor for a large commercial project involves a nuanced evaluation of their financial stability, risk management practices, and client satisfaction record. By requiring bonding or SDI, assessing financial health, and scrutinizing client feedback, GCs can significantly reduce the risks associated with subcontractor default. Remember, the goal is not just to complete the project but to do so on time, within budget, and to the highest quality standards. By prioritizing financial diligence and risk management, we can ensure the successful execution of complex construction projects.

Completion of Burnaby’s New Fire Station #4

We’re pleased to share news of the completion RWC’s portion of the new Fire Station #4 in Burnaby, a project RWC Systems had the privilege to contribute to. 

Project Background

Located on Greystone Drive, the newly built Fire Station #4 replaces the 66-year-old facility previously on Duthie Avenue. This move not only addresses the needs of Burnaby’s growing population but also enhances the city’s emergency response capabilities. The project, which began in late 2022, incorporates important features such as drive-through vehicle bays, decontamination spaces for crews, and a design that meets seismic post-disaster standards, along with low-carbon heating solutions.

Our Involvement

RWC Systems was tasked with the drywall, steel studs, and ceilings of the fire/police facility, a role we approached with dedication and a commitment to quality. Our work spanned from July 2023 to January 2024, aligning with the project’s goal to create a resilient and sustainable building. 

Completing Fire Station #4 is significant for us, not just as a demonstration of our capabilities but as part of a larger effort to contribute to the community’s safety and environmental sustainability. While we’re proud of our contribution, we recognize this project as a collective achievement that will serve Burnaby for years to come.

This project aligns with our commitment to not only meet but exceed the standards required for modern public facilities.

Burnaby Firehall #4 joins our portfolio of public institutions including:

A Look Ahead: RWC Systems’ Exciting Journey into 2024

As we step into 2024, I am thrilled to share with you the strides RWC Systems has made and our vibrant vision for the future. The past year, 2023, was a remarkable period of growth for us, marking not only a series of successful projects but also a significant expansion of our horizons.

Building Milestones: Completing and Starting Major Projects

Before we delve into our exciting expansion plans, I want to highlight some significant projects that we aim to complete and begin in 2024.

Ongoing major projects

The Royal Columbian Hospital
This landmark project is a shining example of our capability in healthcare infrastructure, where precision and quality are paramount. We are on track to complete our work, contributing to a facility that will serve the community for generations.

The Mills Memorial Hospital
Another cornerstone in healthcare construction, this project showcases our expertise in creating state-of-the-art medical facilities, especially one that is outside of the Lower Mainland.

Capstan Way Skytrain Station
This project adds to our portfolio of existing Skytrain stations and further underlines our capability to contribute to public infrastructure. Our work here emphasizes not just construction excellence but also our part in enhancing urban mobility and connectivity.

Exciting New Projects for 2024

New St Paul’s Hospital East Tower
This new addition to the Jim Pattison Medical Campus in Vancouver is a significant project for us in 2024. RWC Systems will be responsible for 2.2 million square feet of drywall installation in the East Tower, marking our fourth collaboration at this landmark healthcare facility​.

Cariboo Hospital Redevelopment
A transformative project set to revolutionize healthcare services in the Williams Lake and Cariboo-Chilcotin region. Our role includes the installation of steel stud framing, drywall, acoustic ceilings, and specialty ceilings, which are crucial for the hospital’s functionality and aesthetics.

Kelowna Airport
This significant project at British Columbia’s second major gateway, Kelowna International Airport, involves optimizing both existing and new spaces with an emphasis on environmental sustainability. Our role encompasses the installation of steel studs, drywall, and acoustic ceilings, leveraging our expertise in transportation infrastructure projects.

Cloverdale Ice Rink
A state-of-the-art community hub in Surrey, this project is a symbol of community growth and engagement. Our contribution to this sports complex includes the construction of walls and ceilings, featuring steel stud framing and drywall construction. This project is a testament to our dedication to community development and our experience in public community center projects.

Expanding Beyond Borders

Our journey began in the heart of Vancouver and The Lower Mainland, a region that has been the bedrock of our success. British Columbia’s dynamic market has shaped our expertise in constructing complex, specialty, and large-scale drywall, acoustic ceilings, T-bar ceilings, steel studs, and exterior soffits. Our dedication to excellence here has set a strong foundation for what comes next.

Now, RWC Systems is setting its sights further afield. Our goal of growth will be taking us beyond the familiar landscapes of British Columbia and into Western Canada and beyond.

Delivering Excellence with Proven Expertise

The cornerstone of our Geo graphical expansion lies in our solid value propositions that have defined RWC Systems since 1978. Known for handling complex jobs with precision, we have a track record of completing projects on time and within budget. This reliability and efficiency have become our signature in the industry.

Our capability is underpinned by a robust team of over 300 skilled trades staff. This vast pool of expertise ensures we have the capacity to execute large-scale and intricate projects with the same finesse and attention to detail that we are known for. It’s these factors, coupled with our commitment to quality, that have earned us the trust and respect of our clients.

In fact, it’s our reputation for excellence and reliability that has led many of our customers to encourage us to seek opportunities outside our core market. They recognize the value we bring to the table – a blend of experience, skill, and commitment to delivering the best. As we step into these new markets, we aim to uphold these values in every project we undertake.

Bright Horizons Ahead

Looking ahead, the future is radiant with possibilities. Our journey into 2024 and beyond is not just about expanding our geographical footprint; it’s about strengthening relationships, building new partnerships, and continuing to deliver the exceptional service that RWC Systems is known for.

We are more than just a construction company. We are a team of dedicated professionals who believe in creating spaces that matter while embracing our core values. As we embark on this exciting phase of growth, we invite you to join us in this journey.

Together, let’s build a future that’s as solid as the walls we create.

Warm regards,
Larry Robertson
CEO, RWC Systems

RWC Systems Awarded Contract for North Shore Studios

RWC Systems is excited to announce its recent success in securing the bid for a significant project at the North Shore Studio, situated in the scenic locale of North Vancouver. This marks a notable achievement in RWC Systems’ growing portfolio of specialized projects in the film and acoustic sectors.

About North Shore Studios

North Shore Studios is a state-of-the-art film production facility, masterfully planned to cater to the highest standards in the film industry. Encompassing a vast area of 120,000 square feet, the facility boasts eight custom-designed sound stages. Complementing these stages are 80,000 square feet dedicated to production offices and an additional 35,000 square feet for support and mill space. Strategically located just over the Ironworker’s Memorial Bridge, the studio enjoys proximity to residential communities, city parks, and shopping centers, offering a unique blend of accessibility and inspiration.

Project Overview

RWC Systems will be spearheading the installation of Acoustic Board Insulation, a critical component in ensuring optimal sound quality and production efficiency for the studio. This project represents a collaborative effort with Mammoth Studios, a renowned full-service film production facility in Burnaby, famous for one of Canada’s largest sound stages.

Key Project Details:

Joining Our Portfolio of Acoustically Sensitive Projects

The North Shore Studio project adds to RWC Systems’ impressive track record of delivering high-quality solutions in the film and acoustic fields. Previous successful collaborations include:

And Many More

Celebrating a Year of Monumental Achievements at Our Year-End Lunch

As 2023 winds down, RWC Systems gathered at the picturesque Northview Golf Course to celebrate a year of remarkable achievements and milestones. The event, marked by camaraderie and reflection, was an opportunity for the team to look back at the significant projects we’ve accomplished, each symbolizing our commitment to innovation, community, and excellence.

As we step into the new year, we’re filled with gratitude and enthusiasm, ready to embark on new challenges and continue making a difference through our work. Here’s to another year of success, innovation, and community building!


Celebrating 19 Years of Excellence: Anna Simpson’s Journey with RWC Systems

Join us as we celebrate a remarkable milestone for one of our most cherished members, Anna Simpson. Anna marks her 19th anniversary with our company, and we couldn’t be more thrilled!

Back in the 1990’s, Anna began her journey with us, not as a direct hire but through the meticulous numbers and ledgers as a bookkeeper for a third-party accounting firm. Her skill, dedication, and keen eye for detail didn’t go unnoticed. As we grew, we knew we needed her expertise in-house. In 2004, Anna was officially welcomed into the Robertson Walls and Ceilings family.

RWC Systems, as many of you know, is at the forefront of constructing high-end and specialty drywall, walls, and ceilings for commercial projects. Behind every successful project is a team of dedicated individuals, and Anna has been a pivotal part of this success. Over the years, she’s donned various hats – receptionist, accountant, payroll, HR – you name it, Anna has probably been involved in it! Her versatility and willingness to step into diverse roles have been instrumental in our growth.

As our current Controller, Anna has brought invaluable insights and stability to our financial operations. Her journey from a bookkeeper to a controller is not just a testament to her professional growth but also mirrors the evolution of RWC Systems.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate and congratulate Anna Simpson on her 19 years of service. It’s people like Anna who make RWC Systems Inc. not just a workplace but a place where passion and dedication are nurtured and celebrated.

Thank you, Anna, for being an integral part of our story!