CamCon Precast, based in Atlantic Canada, is a company built on a foundation of accountability, responsibility, experience and performance. They are a family run business whose mission it is to provide a comprehensive range of precast concrete solutions to clients. They take small to large orders, offer customization for any project, and get the job done with fast turnaround times – all while employing maximum flexibility and integrity.
The name CamCon is derived from Cameron Contracting, a business that operated in 1960s Nova Scotia, and which was founded by CamCon Director Robert Cameron’s grandfather. “We resurrected that name and started a new business,” says General Manager Blank. Blank had worked with the Cameron family on a few other businesses in the past, and wanted to start a concrete company where he could put his years of precast experience to use.
Robert Cameron himself worked in Montreal for several years, but always wanted to return to the East Coast and work with his family. “I find people tend to leave Nova Scotia and either they stay away forever or they want to come back eventually, and I was one of those people who wanted to come back,” he explains.
CamCon Precast began in 2009. In the years since, the company has experienced rapid growth, and completed a number of successful projects within the Maritime Provinces. Though the business itself is new, their team has over 50 years of combined experience in the industry.
“We give good value for our product,” says Blank, explaining what sets CamCon apart in the marketplace. “And we’re open-minded.”
“What makes us different in personality is we’re smaller than our chief competitors,” adds Cameron. “That makes us more flexible. We’re able to work with our customers, and try new and different things. The bigger the company, the more bureaucracy, and the more fixed ways there are of doing things. We’re new, we’re a young company, we’re small compared to our major competitors – and we’re able to be more creative.”
As a precast concrete company, CamCon has three different types of customers. They service general contractors, private developers, and government clients. “What we try to do with anybody we quote with is become a business partner with them, and work through the projects together,” Blank says. For all their clients, they always try to think about how they can do a job differently, and more economically.
“We offer them solutions they never knew existed,” Cameron explains.
Today, CamCon has 21 employees – quite a jump from the three they had when they first started. Like a lot of family businesses, the atmosphere among that staff is very positive. “We’re a small business and we interact with our employees every day,” Blank says. “We also have a flat structure, and everyone is empowered to help make the decisions on the floor.” Additionally, he says they always keep people abreast of what’s going on with the business – good or bad – via weekly meetings. “Everybody feels involved.”
Having such a positive corporate culture is important, Blank explains, because the main challenge in their industry is acquiring and holding on to manpower, especially given the aging workforce in Atlantic Canada. CamCon is able to keep the employees they have by paying them a competitive wage, offering benefits, and – most importantly – keeping them consistently employed. “We haven’t had a layoff due to shortage of work in over two years,” Blank says.
Another common challenge in the construction industry is dealing with rising sustainability standards, but CamCon thrives in that arena. Concrete, after all, is a local material because the weight makes it cost prohibitive to ship. “Concrete is always a big factor in any LEED points a company is trying to get with a project,” Cameron explains. “It’s just an inherently sustainable material.”
Concrete also lasts a long time. Other construction materials need to be replaced and maintained – with concrete there is no maintenance. “If you put it in right, a concrete product will last you over 100 years,” Blank adds.
Blank says CamCon has grown remarkably fast over the past two years – even faster than they envisioned. The goal now is to consolidate, and in the coming years diversify and expand. “We’re going to try and stay where we’re at for the next year, and then in probably two to three years we’ll be looking at architectural concrete,” he explains.
Since establishing themselves in 2009, CamCon has become CSA certified, CPCI certified, and they have added more expertise to their staff. “We’re growing in revenue and size, just as we’re growing in knowledge,” Blank says. “We’re investing internally in our people and in our operations.”
One example of this internal investment is their testing department. In the past, they used to subcontract all their testing, but they recently purchased most of the required equipment and built an in-house lab. Additionally, Blank says they are in the process of hiring a full time professional engineer. It is these types of measures that will facilitate their growth in the future – a future that looks remarkably bright.