Composing a Multi-Note Opus

The Star | Colin McConnell

on February 03, 2012

The more irons Andrea DeGasperis-Ronco has in the fire, the happier she is.

At the same time 29-year-old was launching her new home building company in 2011, Opus Homes, DeGasperis-Ronco decided to add to her family. Just days from her second child’s due date in early 2012, she was on hand as Opus held an open house at its new Vaughan offices and launched a site in Whitby the last weekend in January.

“I’m young, I have energy and I have never done well with just one task at hand,” she explains. “I welcome the challenge and have no qualms that I’ll be able to handle it (motherhood and running the company).”
She is quick to add that she has a trusted team of industry veterans backing her up, including her husband Michael Ronco (head of legal and development), sales and marketing director Domenic Bauco, construction head Mike Ferri and her dad Carlo, the company co-founder, “who supplies motivational support and pops in once or twice a week to advise me on how to run and manage various aspects of the company.”

DeGasperis-Ronco is a member of a well-known building clan (Arista Homes). Her grandfather, father and uncles founded TACC Construction, a leader in earthmoving, sewer, water main and road building.

“You know when kids are young and they play teacher? My brother and sister and I — I’m the oldest of three — used to play TACC Construction. We’d be on the walkie talkies, directing what sites to drive machines to because we’d heard my dad do that. It’s been in my blood. As soon as I started working in the industry, I loved everything about it and what I loved most is that I got to make people really happy because I was helping them create their dream home.”

DeGasperis-Ronco studied business and marketing at York University before starting her career at Arista Homes as decor centre manager.

“They didn’t have a full-fledged decor centre and were just starting to design one,” she says. Under her supervision, the decor centre became one of the premier centres in the GTA. That’s where she honed her customer relations skills, realizing that home buying is a heavily emotional experience for buyers, “so they are either completely upset with you or completely enamoured with you.”

In 2008, DeGasperis-Ronco was asked by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) to chair a new committee, the decor managers’ forum, comprised of about 30 people from around the GTA.

A few years ago her father asked her if she’d thought about starting her own company.

“Why would I want to do something like that?” was her initial response. “But he planted the seed and ultimately, I decided that was what I wanted.

“I’ve always been a hard worker as I always felt I had to prove myself because of my last name and my age. Those were the two factors that have pushed me harder to be better and to educate myself to know what I’m talking about.”

Still, she appreciates being part of a building legacy. “The fact that family built such a great and diverse group of companies has only come to benefit me and they helped propel me forward with their expertise on development.”

Opus Homes launched in 2011 and DeGasperis-Ronco has found herself in rare company as one of only a handful of women at the helm of home-building companies in Ontario.

She had a clear vision for how she wanted Opus to differentiate itself.

“The first priority is client relations and educating and informing buyers,” she says. “We don’t want them to feel blindsided by the home-buying process. We want to keep they very educated and involved in the entire process.”

Calling on her decor background, DeGasperis-Ronco wanted to create distinctive upscale features that buyers get as standard in every Opus home (which so far have been geared to second or third-time buyers). These include eight-foot solid panel front doors, limestone fireplaces and stand-alone tubs in master ensuites.

“I think people appreciate those features and it helps us stand out from the crowd,” she says.

The company started by looking for small sites in excellent locations. Opus Homes’ first site, River’s Edge in Brampton, offered detached homes on 40-, 50- and 65-foot lots and only two of 36 are still available. When Endeavour in Whitby launched in late January, 22 of 28 lots sold on opening weekend. Endeavour includes detached homes on 40- and 50-foot lots, in a double cul-de-sac surrounded by forest.

DeGasperis-Ronco says a sound marketing program has helped get Opus off to a successful start and the company has relied heavily on database and email marketing and giving a professional sales pitch. When people call or email Opus, they get a personal response from DeGasperis-Ronco or one of her team members.

Sustainability is another important part of the Opus philosophy. As well as energy-saving and eco-friendly features in its homes (heat recovery ventilators, dual-flush toilets, Energy Star appliances and lighting fixtures, products made from recycled or renewable materials), Opus has adopted a corporate green policy, using motion sensors to trigger lighting, using recycled paper, using natural light as much as possible and using filtered water served in glass or ceramic vessels with no plastic bottles allowed.

“You can’t just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk,” says DeGasperis-Ronco.


Instead of giving a traditional closing day gift to its buyers, Opus Homes has created the Families Helping Families program.

Buyers can choose from several charitable organizations that Opus supports and the company will make a donation in the buyers’ name. Those charities include the Ride to Conquer Cancer, Earth Rangers, the Salvation Army (Brampton) and the ETA Vaughan women’s shelter.

Carlo DeGasperis has participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer for the past five years and in 2010 was the top contributor to the cause. Opus also contributed to CTV’s Toy Mountain in 2011.

“I’ve been very privileged in my lifetime and been given a lot of opportunities and I need to pay it forward,” says Andrea DeGasperis-Ronco.

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