2020 SAM Awards: eQ and Richcraft are the big winners

From model homes to marketing campaigns and sales staff, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on how the housing industry markets and sells itself, and that was clearly seen in the entries for the 2020 SAM (sales and marketing) Awards.

“The world had changed and dealing with COVID was the big (theme),” says judge Brian Jeffrey of All Things Home.

Even the awards event itself was affected. Normally announced by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association at a luncheon in November, the 2020 awards were delayed four months and presented instead at a video event March 10.


“With many of our members constantly adapting to changes created by COVID-19, we wanted to ensure they had the time they needed and deserved to complete the entry process,” says GOHBA membership co-ordinator Beth McClelland.

Surprisingly, given the upheaval the pandemic has caused the industry, entries were as high as they were the previous year, with 105 submissions vying for trophies in 37 categories.

“It’s great to see that despite COVID, our members are just as excited to showcase their marketing achievements and to recognize the accomplishments of sales employees who have gone above and beyond,” says McClelland.


The awards recognize sales and marketing excellence among Ottawa builders, renovators and related businesses. Entries were critiqued by a panel of 10 judges from among industry experts across the country.

Promoting Canadian

Winners were announced in a video presentation emceed by comedian James Cunningham of Eat St. that featured a theme of Travel across Canada. “Our members can’t go very far these days due to COVID-19, so why not have the event reflect the amazing country we live in?” says McClelland.

For the third year in a row, builder eQ Homes came out on top, claiming the Grand SAM award, which is given to the builder with the most wins across the various categories.

Ottawa new homes renovations SAM Awards sales and marketing
eQ won five of the model home categories, including best condo mid-high-rise with Hobin Architecture for Model 1 at Greystone Village.

eQ has made a point of entering the awards because the builder feels it’s important to applaud the efforts of its team.

“We’re honoured,” says eQ’s marketing and product manager, Tobin Kardish. “We truly believe we have the best team in the business and feel it’s important to recognize everyone’s contributions whenever possible. That includes our partners Ryan Design, West of Main, Hobin Architecture, Rosaline J. Hill Architecture and Norma King Design for their exceptional work on our winning projects. It’s truly a team effort, and we’re so thankful for this recognition.”

Richcraft Homes also dominated this year, winning nine trophies for its marketing of The Charlotte, a condo project in Sandy Hill.


The Charlotte, and how Richcraft presents the project, clearly caught the attention of judges.

Both Algonquin College marketing professor Karen Kavanagh and Karen Major, owner of the marketing firm All The Right Tools Inc., loved Richcraft’s use of watercolour imagery.

Ottawa new homes renovations SAM Awards sales and marketing
Judges were impressed with Richcraft’s unusual use of watercolour images in marketing The Charlotte condo.

“They used muted tones, a watercolour feel and a simple logo that reminded me of iron work,” says Kavanagh. “Very interesting how they approached their brand look and feel.”


Adds Major: “It’s just not typical of that industry.”

Richcraft’s marketing manager, Shawn Bellman, says the company wanted to tell a story in an unusual way. “It had to have a certain sophistication to it” to take buyers on a “whimsical journey” of discovery about the project and the area. Pairing watercolours to the illustration technique was a natural fit, he says.

But it’s the model homes that attract the most public interest.


Wins went to a mix of builders with eQ Homes capturing the majority (five of nine categories), often in conjunction with design partners.

Ottawa new homes renovations SAM Awards sales and marketing
Neutrals continue to dominate in builder model homes, like the Bassett by Valecraft Homes, which was named best town home, over 1,800 sq. ft.

Overall, the homes were tailored, clean-lined and sophisticated. Typically, they were done in neutral tones to appeal to the widest possible buyer demographic. Builders are “keeping those big-ticket items neutral so that people could imagine themselves in there,” says returning judge and designer Jen Robinson.

But she also noticed bold light fixtures and a continued use of wallpaper, which we’ve been seeing for the past few years. “They’re using (it) as an accent to make the spaces more personalized.”


She was particularly impressed with the Oliver, designed by architect Rosaline J. Hill, built by eQ Homes, and with interiors by West of Main. It “showed more layers and accentuated the architecture so you really could get a feel of the space better.”

Ottawa new homes renovations SAM Awards sales and marketing
Judge Jen Robinson was particularly impressed by The Oliver, by eQ Homes, Rosaline J. Hill Architect and West of Main Design. The home was named best single-family home, 2,001-3,000 sq. ft. Photo: West of Main

Model homes aside, the sales and marketing awards are more than just the industry patting itself on the back.

“It’s a science, it’s a strategy, but it’s also creativity,” says Kavanagh. “It’s very important for the public when they see marketing and communications in action. They have to quickly think, ‘Does this appeal to me?’ and then if it does, ‘What’s my action?’ The marketing communications professionals really have to develop the integrated marketing communications plan to get that end action.”


And the recognition of their peers is a signal to the public of a company’s credibility, adds Major.

For judge Shauna Roe, a marketing professional at advertising agency Leo Burnett who’s also looking to buy her first home, the impact of builder marketing really hits home.

“It’s a huge decision, it’s one of the biggest decisions people make and I think there’s a lot of trust required for people looking to buy a home,” she says. “So, the more you can get across that you understand people and that you resonate with what they’re looking for and what their lifestyle is, that’s when people start to trust you a bit more.”


Winning models

Here are all the 2020 SAM Awards winners:

Best builder sales assistant
Lucie Zeng, eQ Homes

Best builder sales representative
Jennifer Dean, eQ Homes

Best builder sales team
Jamie Langdon and Mina Arbuckle, Glenview Homes


Best design centre consultant
Caitlyn Blaney, RND Construction Ltd.

Best industry partner sales representative
Jeff Ricci, Tomlinson Environmental Services

Best industry partner sales team


Best builder print ad
The Charlotte, Richcraft Homes

Best builder radio ad
The Charlotte, Richcraft Homes

Best builder digital display ad
The Charlotte, Richcraft Homes


Best builder social media ad campaign
The Commons, Glenview Homes with TRUEdotDESIGN

Best builder video
The Charlotte, Richcraft Homes

Best builder logo
The Charlotte, Richcraft Homes


Best builder signage
The Charlotte, Richcraft Homes

Best builder brochure
The Charlotte, Richcraft Homes

Best builder website
Cardel Homes


Best builder marketing campaign
The Charlotte, Richcraft Homes

Best builder Covid-19 marketing initiative
eQ Homes with Ryan Design International

Best builder sales centre
The Charlotte, Richcraft Homes


Best renovator Covid-19 marketing initiative
Amsted Design-Build

Best renovator showroom
RND Construction Ltd.

Best marketing innovation


Best industry partner print ad

Best industry partner video
All Things Home

Best industry partner marketing campaign
All Things Home


Best industry partner website
Deslaurier Custom Cabinets

Best townhome, under 1,800 sq. ft.
The Juniper at Pathways, eQ Homes with Norma King Design

Best townhome, over 1,800 sq. ft.
The Bassett, Valecraft Homes


Best single-family home, under 2,000 sq. ft.
The Springfield, Phoenix Homes

Best single-family home, 2,001-3,000 sq. ft.
The Oliver at Provence, eQ Homes with Rosaline J. Hill Architect Inc. and West of Main Design

Best single-family home, 3,001 sq. ft. and over
The Klondike, Phoenix Homes


Best bungalow, attached
The Union at Callahan Estates, Campanale Group

Best bungalow, single
The Sawgrass at eQuinelle, eQ Homes

Best condo, low-rise
The Alder at Clarence Crossing, eQ Homes with Hobin Architecture and West of Main Design


Best condo, mid-high-rise
Model 1 at Greystone Village, eQ Homes with Hobin Architecture

Most environmentally friendly builder
RND Construction Ltd.

Best community
Diamondview Estates, Phoenix Homes


Grand SAM
eQ Homes

About the Author

Anita Murray All Things Home Ottawa homes

Anita Murray

Anita Murray is the co-founder of All Things Home Inc. and owner of Three C Communications. The veteran journalist has covered the Ottawa housing industry since 2011.



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