“The memberships will sell out quickly.” Standing with Chris Erb at SupErb Construction’s mobile office at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Resort (VIMOR), there’s little reason to disagree. The scale of the project is surprising on first viewing. The VIMOR is the latest in a series of successful projects undertaken by Erb’s company for the GAIN Dealer Group. When completed VIMOR will become one of North America’s premier club driving circuits.
Erb presents a quiet confidence, a man entirely comfortable with himself and the demands of his profession. Asked how the relationship between the two company’s works, Erb proudly replied, “There is a huge amount of trust between the two parties.”
While SupErb Construction is a mid-sized company, Erb believes this presents an inherent advantage. “I think it’s an asset there are more hands on the job site.” He continued, “When decisions need to be made ̶ and difficult decisions are made on a daily basis ̶ they can be made quickly, which means we can carry on with the project.”
In Nanaimo, Erb and his team have completed impressive new dealerships for BMW/MINI, Mercedes-Benz and smart, and Subaru. Projects in Victoria include the stunning new Porsche Centre and showrooms for Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz/smart, and Sprinter. Projects of this scale and importance reflect Erb’s years of education and commitment.
“As a young adult, I apprenticed to become a journeyman carpenter and eventually started my own company – SupErb Construction vs working for other people.” Asked about the most important aspect of his training, Erb immediately stressed the legal side. “Over the years I have taken many courses in Project Management and Construction Contracts & Law.” Emphasizing the importance of remaining current in all aspects of the industry, he continued, “My staff also take ongoing educational courses.”
Erb was a leader in recognizing the importance of adopting environmentally sound construction techniques, and is an EnviroHome Canada Builder, R-2000 Builder, and a BuiltGreen BC Builder. SupErb Construction became an early advocate of the use of environmentally friendly concrete forms.
Recognized within the industry, Erb has served as Provincial President of the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA-BC), and as President of the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA). Reflecting his belief in the importance of continuing education, Erb has also served on the Apprenticeship Advisory Committee for the Vancouver Island University.
Given his commitment to education and professionalism, the question was posed as to his thoughts on the depiction of “cowboy construction” portrayed on television reality shows. Starting to laugh, he replied, “It always amazes me. If you get two estimates to renovate your bathroom, and one is $15,000, and the next is $5,000, what do you really think will happen if you accept the lowest bid? You always get what you pay for!”
Erb credits his wife Marianne with encouraging his success. “Marianne was very successful on her own before I married her. She marketed the Cameron Island condo project in Nanaimo from 1991 – 1998, selling 265 condos in the 3-phased project.” They met when “I was hired to be the Site Project Manager of Cameron Island’s ‘Beacon,’ Vancouver Island’s tallest building.”
At the time, Erb was building homes and small commercial projects in the Central Vancouver Island area. The focus changed when “Six years ago, I stopped building custom homes and now focus on Commercial and Industrial construction.”
The GAIN Relationship
Erb’s relationship with GAIN began with the initial projects in Nanaimo. Based on the trust built over the course of construction, Erb was approached in the early stages of development. “I was engaged to organize the logging and surveying of the site at a very early stage. Along the way I have continued to work with GAIN during the design process with Tilke (GMBH & Co) and other consultants. Now, I have been contracted to work as the General Contractor, building the VIMOR Track and Clubhouse.”
Designed to allow enthusiasts to enjoy their cars to the fullest, the track at VIMOR presents some interesting construction challenges. The first phase of development will comprise 19 corners, 5 different configurations, elevation changes of over 26 metres, with inclines of up to 12%.
The 15,000 sq. ft. Clubhouse will be built over two levels. The lower level will feature four garage bays to service and prepare members’ cars prior to taking to the track. A range of displays anticipated to appeal to members will be featured in the large presentation room. The upper level will offer a track-side observation deck, a Club Room, and 5-star kitchen and bar service.
The scale of the project raises the question as to the challenges presented in the construction of the VIMOR. “There is an incredible amount of work to be done in a very short period of time.” Describing the work currently being undertaken, Erb continued, “We are planning to place the first of three layers of asphalt on the track mid to late October this year.
“We’ve already poured the concrete foundations (for the Clubhouse), and have just started the masonry walls. We’re also planning to have the roofing done and be watertight on the Clubhouse by mid-November.”
The conversation turned to future GAIN projects, and what it means for SupErb Construction. “It’s been an incredible three years, and the next two to three look to be every bit as exciting for GAIN, and by extension for SupErb.” Speaking to projects being started simultaneously to VIMOR, two are set to start almost immediately. “We’re just about to begin a renovation to house Alfa Romeo on Victoria’s Roderick Street, and we’re starting a service point for Audi in Nanaimo.
“I have built so many interesting and challenging projects and look forward to what each new day brings.”
While spare time may not be a term that is often used in the Erb household, when the opportunity arises there are number of activities that hold his attention. Genealogy is of particular interest, “I’ve spent the past few years researching the Erb’s ancestral history, and have visited villages and cemeteries in New Brunswick, and also in Switzerland and Germany, going back to the 1600s. We’ve also recently visited the western Ukraine and southeastern Poland where Marianne’s parents emigrated from.”
Living on the West Coast provides the opportunity to enjoy kayaking in “the endless waters of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.” When off the water, hiking and cycling are also enjoyed.
Perhaps the best compliment with regard to Erb’s professional skill is that provided by Peter Trzewik of the GAIN Dealer Group. “SupErb Construction is undoubtedly the best automotive dealership contractor on Vancouver Island. SupErb Construction Ltd. has been recognized by our dealer groups as the best general contractor that we have worked with in Canada.”
The GAIN Dealer Group has set the standard for customer service on Vancouver Island. As they move forward to develop new and exciting projects within the automotive sector, Chris Erb will continue to provide the GAIN Dealer Group with innovative, stylish, and comfortable buildings in which to welcome their clients.