CH Concrete

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CH Concrete
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CH Concrete
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CH Concrete
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Community values

CH Concrete is an Ottawa Valley-based private concrete company with a strong family focus. It was started in 2009 by Dustin Hoffman and Kerry Clouthier, both of whom (with their families) owned previous businesses in the area that provided a range of construction services, including providing concrete. “It was a joint venture,” says Hoffman, the Operations Manager at CH. “We were both two of the biggest concrete buyers in our area, so we felt the need to join together and buy our own plant and produce our own concrete.”

The business gained a third partner in January of 2011, when the pair was approached by the Tomlinson Group, who was looking to purchase a portion of the company. Hoffman and Clouthier ended up selling a third of the business to them. Tomlinson is also family owned, as well as local to Eastern Ontario. This is important, because maintaining a community focus is essential to CH Concrete.  “We’re from the local community here and live in the local community,” Hoffman says. “We want CH to be part of the community.”

It is that locality that helps set CH Concrete apart from their various competitors. “A lot of people today don’t want to talk to someone in a head office somewhere else, they want to talk to someone who is a real person and who lives in the community and who gives back to the community,” Hoffman explains. “What’s happened in the concrete industry of late is the big are getting bigger and the small are going by the wayside. We live in a small community where our families have been in business for a long time and we have thrived. We carry that forward to CH Concrete.”

A lot of the competition CH Concrete faces is from international corporations, whose headquarters may be as far as Italy or France. What they have found, however, is that the local contractors and homebuilders would prefer to do work with people who actually live nearby, in their same community. “They like to do business the old way, where they can walk in and see the owner of the business when they have a problem,” Hoffman says. “They don’t want to deal with a manager who has to be in contact with someone at another head office in another town.”

By fostering that relationship with their community, CH is actually fostering their relationship with their customers. “Relationships are big with our company,” says Hoffman. “We get a lot of repeat business. We get a customer and we like to keep the customer. That’s where I see our company strong and gaining, in our loyal customer base.” Also, because CH Concrete has three partners contributing to the business, they are able to leverage each partner’s other relationships as well. “It’s kind of like a three-way matrix. It really helps when you’re drawing client bases from three different companies, and when those clients need concrete from this area they buy from us.”

Keeping their clients coming back means keeping them satisfied – to do that, CH Concrete has to have more to brag about than their location. “We make sure first and foremost we have a quality product,” says Clouthier, the second founding partner of CH. “That’s the most important thing with concrete, in my opinion. The quality has to be there. That’s why we bought a state-of-the-art concrete plant. Quality control is paramount in our company, and it’s very important we strive to deliver a good quality product to our customers.”

Honesty and forthrightness are also important qualities for CH Concrete, especially when it comes to communications with their customers. “When we say we’re going to do something, we do it,” Clouthier says. “If we can’t do it, we’re honest with people and tell them if we can’t do it today, we’ll do it tomorrow. That’s very important in our business, and that’s something that’s been passed on to us from our fathers and we hope to pass it along to our kids too.”

At the moment, CH Concrete has 20 employees. Like many family-owned businesses, the corporate atmosphere is friendly and inclusive. “You know, we have our disagreements like any family, but at the end of the day teamwork seems to prevail, and that’s why we’re successful,” Clouthier says. While CH has only been going for two years, both Hoffman and Clouthier have observed in their previous businesses that once they find the people that match the culture – that align with what they’re doing, and how they want it to be done – then they expect to maintain a real loyal pool of people. “That’s what I find in my business,” Clouthier says. “Dustin’s the same way, and it’s carrying on to our new business of CH Concrete.”

As far as the challenges posed to the company, the main one would be the competitive marketplace – that is why they have focused so heavily on customer service and relationships. The other challenge would be staying on the forefront of sustainability, a field that is evolving by the day. “We’re always moving in that direction,” says Clouthier. “Right from the get-go with our company, we’ve had a dust collector system that is above and beyond what other people are doing here. We’re very conscious of our impact on the community. We want to be an environmentally sound company.”

Moving forward, Clouthier and Hoffman see CH Concrete continuing down that sustainable path, as well as gaining in size and reputation. “Every year our company has grown since inception,” Hoffman says. “What’s upcoming for us is growth. We’re still in the growing stage and I imagine our business is going to expand over the next three to five years. The longer we’re in business, the more people come in and buy concrete from us.”

Specifically, the company is looking at plans to move their concrete plant to its own independent location. When they bought the plant, they placed it in a pit near the office of H&H Construction – one of their other businesses – for expediency purposes. In the next two years, however, they aim to purchase the plant its own land, and add a more permanent office. “Overall, we want to continue our growth down the road,” Clouthier says. “And we’re going to get there through hard work.”

“We would love nothing more than for CH to double and triple in size and the far future,” Hoffman adds. That kind of expansion is not without context, either. Both Hoffman and Clouthier’s family businesses have changed tremendously in the past 15 years – the same goes for Tomlinson Group. “They have multiplied in size, and that’s what you hope for your business whenever you start it,” Hoffman says. “That’s what our anticipation is for CH.”