Avalon Master Builder CEO Ryan Scott is SAIT’s 2018 Distinguished Alumnus

2018 Fall / Profiles / October 1, 2018
Story by Jennifer Allford | Photo by Jager & Kokemor | Video by Grant Nolin
Each year, SAIT celebrates incredible achievements, dedication and hard work of its graduates with the SAIT Alumni Awards.

Ryan Scott’s entrepreneurial spirit is helping Avalon Master Builder meet growing consumer demand for sustainable homes. As his mid-size company thrives in a competitive industry dominated by larger players, LINK talks with Scott about hard lessons, entrepreneurship and the value of keeping it simple.

How did Avalon Master Builder become a leader in sustainable building?

When my sister Christine and I took over the business from our dad in 2004, we brought together all our staff from both the Red Deer and Calgary offices for a two-day session to determine the guiding forces for our business.

Together we reframed our focus from customer service to “taking the stress out of buying a home.” Our staff told us they were really interested in green building — something that wasn’t much on people’s minds at the time. Our thoughts around sustainability and “something to do with green” have morphed into “net zero at no extra cost for our customers.” We’ve done a lot of work to set ourselves up as a leader in this space. And we’ve done a lot of work to find the right way to get to net zero — building homes that produce as much energy as they consume.

You’ve received numerous awards for your leadership in sustainable development. Have you had some hard lessons along the way?

We have! When you’ve been in business this long, you’ve definitely faced some challenges. We’ve learned a lot through an ongoing research and development partnership with SAIT called Discovery Homes, where students undertake projects exploring green building practices. One of the guiding principles we follow now is just to keep it simple. There are lots of great ideas for making homes more sustainable but if those ideas start getting too complex, they will likely also be too expensive to be viable in every home we build. The more bare bones the idea, the easier it is to describe to homebuyers and the more likely it is to succeed.

We’ve had some great learning experiences. The more you learn from your mistakes, the better you get. We are living in very fast-changing times and people who aren’t willing to try new things and experiment are getting left behind. The people who are figuring out new things are going to be the leaders in the future.

What makes a good entrepreneur?

Having a strong vision and having the right people with you to make it happen. It takes a team to make any business successful and I work with a fantastic group of people.

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