2023 SAM Awards see a refresh and rebranding

Today’s homes may be rooted in smart design and quality construction, but it takes passionate sales and marketing teams to get the message out to buyers, especially in a slow housing market.

The 2023 SAM Awards, organized by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA) and rebranded as The Grand SAMS, celebrated the sales and marketing practices, campaigns and individuals who most impacted the local housing industry by awarding trophies in 18 categories during a luncheon April 11 at the Infinity Centre.

Like so much else in the local industry and the broader community, the SAMs have faced considerable challenges during and following the pandemic. The 2022 awards, which saw a larger-than-usual crowd, were the first held live since 2019. Despite a refresh though (hence the rebranding), this year’s 62 submissions were down by half from 2022’s 130 entries.


“I think this year could be attributed to various factors such as the economic downturn, shifts in priorities or even logistical challenges faced by companies during country-wide issues in the residential home building industry,” says GOHBA executive director Jason Burggraaf.

Regardless of fewer entries and attendance of 145 compared to 180 last time, the 39th SAMs were a lively event — sales and marketing people aren’t known as an introverted bunch — emceed by radio personality Sandra Plagakis from Kiss 105.3.

A refreshed SAMs

This SAMs featured some retooling, including the rebranding of the long-running model home categories as “project launches” with a focus on overall launches rather than just the details of model homes.


Other changes included the folding of the best print award into other categories (unsurprising, given the overall decline in print advertising during the past couple of decades) and the disappearance of The Grand SAM, traditionally presented to the builder with the highest number of trophies.

Also gone this year and missed by few: awards for best builder and best industry partner COVID-19 marketing initiatives.

As in the past, this year’s submissions were critiqued in blind judging by a panel of industry experts.


Sales achievement awards

Glenview Homes, which won The Grand Sam in 2022, walked off with seven awards, the most of any builder or renovator. They included trophies for best builder sales representative and best builder sales team.

“It’s humbling to be recognized this way by our peers and trade partners,” says Glenview’s managing director, Jake Shabinsky.

“We don’t rest on our laurels. We try to reinvent ourselves and present the best possible experience to our customers. Our success is thanks to our sales team, and big kudos to TRUEdotDesign. We couldn’t be where we are without our team and our partners.”


Returning judge Brian Jeffrey of All Things Home and a veteran sales trainer and manager evaluated most of the sales achievement awards categories.

He noted an evolution among sales representatives from a strictly “classic” selling strategy (bring in as much new business as possible) to a focus on “relationship selling” during a period of slower sales and intense competition for the housing industry generally.

“There was more of a hunkering down and spending time with clients and making sure they were happy,” Jeffrey says. “They were with their customers for a long time and were very caring. Building rapport is critical when there are a lot of (options) in the market.”


Marketing awards

Home as a relaxing escape from a busy life was part of the marketing strategy of Amsted Design-Build, which won the best renovator brand award.

Marketing awards, with the highest number of categories, went to several companies in the industry, but were dominated by industry partner TRUEdotDESIGN, which won the most awards of the event: 11, either on their own or in conjunction with builders.

“It’s fantastic,” says owner Shelley True, who regularly takes home an armload of SAM honours. “It just goes to show we’re working really hard and trying to think outside the box.

“I love design in all forms, the fact that we care about the end user… We’re working hard to push the limits, so the user gets to enjoy all those subtle moments when you’re entering into a community or development.”


Also sharing awards with TRUEdotDESIGN in the marketing awards group were Glenview, Campanale Homes and Canada Lands Company. Other winners included Richcraft Homes, All Things Home and Amsted Design-Build.

Winners took home trophies for everything from best builder and renovator brand to best builder sales centre and best marketing innovation.

First-time judge Liz Babiak, a professor and co-ordinator in Algonquin College’s School of Media and Design, was struck by the prevalence of “a calming esthetic vibe” among the marketing campaigns, especially when targeting buyers in their 40s and older.


“The visuals were almost spa-like or the best version of home. I think that’s fantastic because it’s reinforcing that home should be a relaxing place, a break from our increasingly busy lives.”

She says her favourite entries — based on the emphasis she puts when teaching marketing strategies on achieving measurable results — were those that clearly showed what the campaigns were shooting for (increased leads, actual sales) and then executing that in their campaigns.

Project launch awards

There were just two winners in this group despite there being five categories to enter.


Richcraft captured the best condo award for The Charlotte in Sandy Hill, showcasing a two-bedroom suite in its submission. Richcraft’s entry emphasized the unit’s overall “moody” esthetic, large windows and European-style kitchen as well as its suitability for everyone from young professionals and students with a roommate to downsizing empty nesters.

Richcraft opened the models last fall and “people could finally see the product; it was more than just a brochure,” says marketing manager Shawn Bellman. “We’ve had a lot of great compliments from the area — (The Charlotte is) the revitalization of Rideau Street, so it’s got really great presence; it shows really well.”

The Piper I at east-end Provence by eQ Homes with design by West of Main, captured the single-family award. It is also a finalist in the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s annual awards and recently captured honours in the U.S. as well as at last fall’s Housing Design Awards in Ottawa.


The mid-century-inspired model home with a modern twist, along with the Quentin model, was spotlighted at a model home launch last March. Foot traffic at Provence jumped almost 14 per cent following the launch, eQ noted in its SAMs submission.

“The Piper truly encompasses everything today’s sophisticated buyers desire in a home. It strikes a perfect balance — not excessively large, yet wonderfully spacious,” says Tobin Kardish, eQ’s director of marketing and product development. “When you add in the award-winning design from West of Main, you can tell why this model continues to win awards.”

Judge Martin Slofstra from Postmedia was impressed with how the project launch entries showed builders are responding well to “lifestyle needs.” As an example, “modern, bright, open living spaces seem to cater to what a lot of people want — places where people can gather and have fun together.”

Marketing of Wateridge Village, which captured best new community trophies for Canada Lands Company & TRUEdotDESIGN, included striking colours and a sense of fun and inclusion.

The Ultimate SAMs

Canada Lands Company & TRUEdotDESIGN won in the best new community category for Wateridge Village, a multi-builder planned community of 310 acres on the site of the former CFB Rockcliffe.

The submission included an explanation that a “vibrant, rich colour palette, clean typography, and playful, modern design convey the brand’s spirit, complemented by captivating visuals and patterns.”

Toronto-based urban developer main + main won best condo with TRUEdotDESIGN for its Relevé project at Albert and Lyon streets. The sculpted double towers are scheduled to open next year.


RND Construction won the GOHBA green award. A multi-award winner at the local, provincial and national levels, RND has been building and renovating energy-efficient and environmentally friendly homes since 1990, including 20 net zero homes. The company is a leader in explaining and promoting sustainable homebuilding.

Like Babiak, Ultimate SAMs judge Jen Robinson notes the emphasis on a lived-in, “homier” feel in this year’s contenders. She feels builders have invested more in style and design to create this sense of character.

Owner and principal designer of JRD, Robinson says the community award entries also showed a special interest in close-to-home features, including parks dotted around the developments, accessibility and nearby amenities like community centres, groceries and transit.


When it comes to sustainable homes, Robinson says, “the amount of time some entries have dedicated to green building is great. This is something everyone should be concerned about.” She adds that while it’s disappointing to see not everyone is stepping up to the plate when it comes to sustainability, and thereby yielding more entries in this category, it’s possible some companies are still trying to get back on their feet after the pandemic.

As a final note, Robinson says “it’s possible to build these beautiful homes with the environment as an important factor in the design and the build process.”

Here are all the 2023 Grand SAMs winners

Sales achievement awards

Best builder sales representative
Glenview Homes, Jamie Langdon


Best builder sales team
Glenview Homes: Kristy Brayton, Jamie Langdon, Cristina Crothers, Raymond Caldareri, Ellen Chaput

Best renovator sales representative
Amsted Design-Build, Amy Derbyshire

Marketing awards

Best builder brand
Glenview Homes & TRUEdotDESIGN


Best builder design centre
Glenview Homes & TRUEdotDESIGN

Best builder digital campaign
Campanale Homes & TRUEdotDESIGN, Callahan Estates

Best builder internal brand campaign
Richcraft Homes 40th anniversary campaign


Best builder sales centre
Glenview Homes & TRUEdotDESIGN, Succession Court

Best community marketing impact
Canada Lands Company & TRUEdotDESIGN, Wateridge Village

Best marketing activation campaign
Glenview Homes & TRUEdotDESIGN, Succession Court


Best industry partner brand

Best industry partner internal brand campaign

Best industry partner digital campaign
All Things Home


Best industry marketing innovation
Glenview Home & TRUEdotDESIGN, G-Rewards Realtor Incentive Program

Best renovator brand
Amsted Design-Build

Project launch awards

Best condo project
Richcraft Homes, The Charlotte


Best single-family home
eQ Homes & West of Main, Piper I at Provence

The Ultimate SAMs

Best new community
Canada Lands Company & TRUEdotDESIGN, Wateridge Village

Best new condo project
main + main & TRUEdotDESIGN, Relevé


GOHBA green award
RND Construction

About the Author

Patrick Langston All Things Home Ottawa homes

Patrick Langston

Patrick Langston is the co-founder of All Things Home Inc. and a veteran journalist. He has written widely about the Ottawa housing industry since 2008. He was a finalist for two national awards for his extensive look at your home and climate change.



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