A history of excellence
Hogg Ready Mix has been producing quality ready mixed concrete since 1954, and the company itself has been around almost a hundred years longer than even that. “We’ve always been leaders in the marketplace,” says Pat Solomon, Operations Manager. “We’ve got a solid name, a solid reputation for quality products and quality people, and we are leaders in the industry – and we wouldn’t have been around this long if that wasn’t true.”
The company has been around over 135 years, but have not always been involved with the concrete industry. When they started in 1876, they supplied firewood and coal for household heating purposes. Eventually they shifted away from firewood, becoming only a coal supplier. Later, when oil became the main product for household heating they moved into the fuel oil business, as well as the building supplies business at the same time. In 1954, almost 80 years into the life of the company, Hogg decided to try their hand at ready mixed concrete. Shortly after that they built a plant, which they used to produce both ready mix concrete and quality concrete blocks.
More time passed as the company’s fuel oil business grew and their coal business fizzled, with concrete proving to be a reliable addition. “The guys were delivering coal and oil in the winter, and concrete gave them something to do in the summer,” Solomon recounts. “It was a good mix, it kept them going.” From that point on, Hogg Ready Mix continued to refine and evolve, dropping the block business and building supplies business to concentrate on ready mix concrete and fuel, which they grew to include commercial fuel sites and customers – they now distribute lubricants, oil and grease to clients all overOntario.
Fuel is still the company’s largest business unit, as both the quantity and dollar value is bigger. However, concrete is still an increasingly prominent part of their portfolio as time goes on, especially due to the waning demand for oil as a home heating fuel. “You’re handling a lot bigger volumes of fuel than you are ready mix concrete,” Solomon explains. “We’re still very visible in the ready mix business, though. We’ve got a fleet of about 25 trucks, as well as two plants covering theWaterlooregion and the surrounding townships.” They also have a substantial foothold in the decorative concrete supply business, which is a market they have built up over time and developed a solid customer base for.
Solomon has personally been at the company for almost 24 years. He started off in 1988 as the Quality Manager of the ready mix division, where his extensive job responsibilities included “developing mix designs, field testing, troubleshooting, dealing with engineers and contractors and handling their questions and queries,” he explains. For the past six years, Solomon’s role has been Operations Manager, where he oversees the company’s plants, as well as their drivers and dispatch staff. “We’re a small mom and pop shop so you tend to do a little bit of everything,” he says. “We help out the other departments as well where we can.”
The history of Hogg Ready Mix is important because their extensive experience is a large part of what sets them apart in the marketplace. “We’ve been in the business a long time, we’ve got a good name,” Solomon reiterates. “We’ve been very visible and very successful. We’ve handled a multitude of projects – everything from the small backyard do-it-yourself project to major infrastructure work such as bridges, waste water plants, roads and many industrial, commercial and institutional buildings. We are eager to take on any type of project. We’ve got a good team here that can handle pretty much everything out there.”
That team is another important part of what sets Hogg Ready Mix apart from the competition. They employ roughly 35 people in the ready mix division of the business, including drivers, shop staff, dispatchers, and sales people. They are a family-owned business, and many employees have been with the company for a long time, including both management and staff. Those facts result in a family atmosphere and positive employee-company relationship. “Everybody knows everybody,” Solomon says. “We’re hands-on and there’s a good relationship with everybody here.”
The company’s relationship with their customers is just as solid. “Our approach is to offer a good quality product and be able to answer their questions when they arise,” Solomon says. “When it comes down to it, it is our responsibility to ensure that our customers are kept up to date on newest products and technologies in the industry. This helps our customers to remain competitive in their industry as well.” Many of Hogg Ready Mix’s customers have been dealing with the company for quite a long time, a fact that Solomon says reflects extremely positively on the company and the people working there. “We’ve built solid relationships with our customers with the entire ready mix team,” he explains. “A lot of people will deal with us because of that. It’s not just anyone in particular – it’s the whole team.”
Eco certified and staying that way
Hogg Ready Mix’s plant inKitcheneris one of only a few plants inOntariocurrently eco certified by the Ready Mixed Concrete Association of Ontario (RMCAO). Hogg Ready Mix is a long standing member (since its inception in 1959) of the RMCAO, and Solomon says they take great pride in remaining at the forefront of their industry, and recognize the pressing need to address the issues of sustainable development in construction. Since they operate in non-remote areas, a particular element of environmental focus for Hogg Ready Mix would be keeping the fallout from their jobs contained. “We’re set up in a residential area, so we have to be cognizant of our neighbours,” Solomon explains. To this end, Hogg Ready Mix have set up measures for dealing with fugitive dust, have noise barrier walls, and have a runoff retention pond. “We really try to work with our neighbours and care for the environment as well.”
Staying ahead of the game like that can be challenge, not just when it comes to the environment, but health and safety as well. “People are expecting more for less,” Solomon says. “Health, safety, and the environment have become very important for us and for the industry as well.” Hogg Ready Mix is committed to building programs that address those challenges, as well as continuously improving in general. Technology, for example, is always evolving, and Hogg Ready Mix seeks to evolve along with it. “We’re right on top of those changes,” says Solomon. “We’ve had some great successes, and we’re not afraid to take on any type of challenge.”
Moving forward, Solomon says the company’s history of continuous improvement will persist. “I see us as a long term player in a stable marketplace,” he says. “We’re not going anywhere.” As far as growth is concerned, Solomon says that will depend on the state of the economy. There have been some challenges the last few years in terms of volume of work, but Hogg Ready Mix has been relatively fortunate due to being located in an area that attracts a lot of industry and various types of business, including the high tech sector. It also helps that they are near a number of universities, who have been spending a considerable amount of money on infrastructure as well. By staying at the top of their game, Solomon says the company will remain at the head of the industry. “We’re keeping up with the technology and moving forward,” he says. “We all want to see growth and we all look forward to taking on the next challenge.”