DUNCAN - Nicon Developments Ltd. is a true Vancouver Island success story. Nicon Developments with more than a dozen Gold and Silver CARE Awards under its belt from the Canadian Home Builders Association is a leading developer and builder of quality residences.
The driving force behind Nicon Developments is Nick Woywitka. Woywitka literally grew up in the industry. His parents owned a lumber yard in Alberta and lived on site. By age 10 Woywitka was driving the forklift and serving customers in the yard. His father sold the business in 1967 and moved the family to Duncan. Woywitka moved back to Alberta in the spring of 1972. Needing a job, he wrote his real estate exam and qualified the same day. But real estate wasn’t the career for him. Three months later he took a job as a clean-up contractor for a residential facility, repairing deficiencies after construction. Three weeks after being on the job, he was promoted to the position of superintendent. “I didn’t even know how to spell it at the time,” Woywitka says. “So I was handed the keys to the van and a couple of boxes of files.” The company he worked for was building about 400 houses a year under the supervision of four project managers. Each manager, Woywitka included, was responsible for 25 homes each quarter.
If each home came in on time and on budget, the project manager received a bonus. Woywitka recalls that he spent his first quarter learning the ropes and his next three quarters collecting the maximum bonus. At age 23 he was outperforming everyone else. “I was really good at scheduling and delegating,” he says, recalling that he spent every Saturday inspecting every house under construction that he was responsible for and drawing up the next week’s schedule for each.
One of the secrets to his “on-time and on-budget” success was his relationship with the sub-trades that he had to share with the other project managers. He offered them a share of his bonuses – the enticement worked like a dream. “I wasn’t in it for the money,” he says. “I was out to prove something to myself.” In September 1974, with another cold Alberta winter setting in, Woywitka moved back to Duncan. Looking around for something to do, he noticed a new subdivision starting on Sherman Road. Unfortunately all he had was a 1972 Chevy Monte Carlo, a trunk full of tools and $1,700. He suggested to the realtor on the subdivision that he sell him a lot for $1 with the guarantee that once he built and sold the house, he would pay the full price of the lot and give the real estate company the listing. The company agreed. He offered the same deal to the lumber yards and other suppliers – they’d get paid when the house was finished and sold. “And that’s how I built my first spec home,” Woywitka recalls.
With that house under his belt, Woywitka took on a wide variety of odd construction jobs. He did dry-walling, cabinetry, painting, concrete work – everything except electrical. He learned to build fireplaces by paying a bricklayer to sit in a lawn chair and drink beer while he instructed him and told him what to do. Two projects later, and Woywitka was an accomplished bricklayer. In 1976, Woywitka founded Nicon Developments Ltd. Within a year he was hiring staff and beginning to delegate while he managed his projects. A couple of years later he got into the insurance restoration business – literally by accident when the ceiling in his home fell down due to frozen pipes. The insurance adjuster who came to look after the claim said he couldn’t get hold of a restoration company immediately and suggested Woywitka take on the restoration work himself. In very short order, the insurance company was sending him more restoration work. Woywitka hired a project manager for the new division of his company and very quickly, he was handling about 350 files a year until he closed that division in 2002. In the early 1980s, Woywitka brought an expert commercial project manager to Duncan from Alberta and Nicon Developments became known for a wide variety of commercial projects including:
• Fuller Lake Arena
• International Plastics, Duncan
• Fulford Harbour School, Saltspring
• United Buy & Sell, Duncan
• Public Works Canada, Calgary
• Drillwell Enterprises, Duncan
• Chemainus Safety Building
• Ministry of Forests, Chetwynd
• Cowichan Community Centre
• Chemainus Dinner Theatre
• Cowichan Hatchery, Duncan
• Lighthouse Pub & Bistro, Port Renfrew
Woywitka says, “We’ve built everything from a Theatre and community centers to hockey arenas and even a dam. We’ve built schools, we did a fish hatchery for the federal government on Boys Road and we’ve done lots of multi-family projects on the island and in Alberta.” In 1997 Woywitka opened a second office in Airdrie Alberta just north of Calgary to build single family and multifamily homes. For the next seven years he commuted back and forth, building 160 units with a sales manager on site at the development. In 2004, after closing the office in Airdrie, he began to focus strongly on residential development in the mid-Vancouver Island area, first with the Heritage Park Development in Ladysmith and then with Pondside in Duncan. The company’s multi-family new home projects include:
• Heatherton, Duncan
• M’Akola Housing, Duncan
• Nanaimo Lions Housing
• CMHC affordable housing, Duncan
• Rockwood Terrace, Duncan
• Oakgrove, Duncan
• Waterton Place, Nanaimo
• Silver Springs Terrace, Airdrie
He notes that Trumpeter Pointe sets a new standard for development on Vancouver Island lakes. The greatest of care and attention went into planning and designing every detail of Trumpeter Pointe to preserve and protect the habitat and ecosystem, as well as to minimize the impact of storm water runoff and riparian zone disturbance. Extensive consultation with the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Provincial Ministry of Environment, freshwater specialists and a professional arborist focused on the singular goal of protecting the lake. “After all, Quamichan Lake is the focal point of Trumpeter Pointe,” Woywitka says. “And this local treasure needs to be kept safe so it can be enjoyed by generations to come.”
In addition to creating bio swales for storm water management, Nicon also built a sewer system that not only handles all the waste water for the subdivision but dozens of neighbouring homes as well, taking them off old and problematic septic systems. Not only has Nicon Developments won a host of CARE awards, it also received the prestigious Master Builder Award from the New Home Warranty Program in 1993 and Woywitka received the Job-Site Innovator Award in 1990 from CMHC in a Canada wide competition. He was recognized for his time and money saving innovation for accurate placement of foundations.
Woywitka says his future ambitions include building more residential communities like Trumpeter Pointe. “My preference now is to develop environmentally friendly communities,” he says. “We’re looking up and down the island right now for a new project. I don’t know where it’s going to be yet – but I can’t stop. We’ve got really good staff. I try to put the vision and the projects together and they do a great job.” He says he loves the challenge of the work and never grows tired of it. “You’re dealing with so many different aspects of a development, right from the politics to the concrete. But the most enjoyment I get from a project is when it’s done and I stand back and know – that’s what I did.” Nicon Developments Ltd. is at
2922 Allenby Road in Duncan.