Lancor Concrete Contractors Ltd.

When Lancor Concrete Contractors Ltd. founders and co-owners, General Manager Louis Landry and Super­intendent Gerald Cormier started the Dieppe, New Brunswick-based company in 1987 with two pick-up trucks and five employees, their mission was to deliver quality concrete formwork services to clients in the maritime provinces of Canada – particularly in New Brunswick – while maintaining competitive wages and a safe working environment for its union field crew.

As a result, it has grown to become one of the top two con­crete formwork contractors in the province. Lancor’s core values have been instilled in its staff since day one and have recently begun to be presented to newcomers in the company’s employee handbook. According to George Cormier, manager of finance and operations – who bears no relation to Gerald Cormier – these values were established informally since Lancor’s inception. Putting them down on paper in a formal sense later on was a bit challenging, but also beneficial, especially when it comes to selecting new team members, he explains. 

“When new employees come in and look at the core values of the company, they’ll know right away if they’re going to be compatible or not,” Cormier says. “It explains what is expected of the staff. Everyone contributes to our core values, so if you don’t blend in, you probably won’t stay very long.” 

But most of Lancor’s employees do stay for a long time. Some of them have worked for the contractor since it started and are nearing retirement. Many of the remaining employees have been with Lancor for at least 10 years, and the up-and-comers are rising through the ranks with no indication of taking their careers elsewhere. 

“The knowledge of our work force is a key ingredient to our success,” Landry asserts. “Our employees have been in this industry for a long time, so they have great expertise. The knowledge of our management team also is a big strength for us.  Terry Milton quarterbacks our project manager group and now also has the additional challenge of mentoring two new recruits. Our site supervisor group includes a number of 30-year industry veterans who will soon be retiring. Recent additions to the supervisor core are gaining invaluable experience and will ultimately be the successors to our veteran nucleus.”   

The key to the company’s low turnover, according to Landry, is paying well and remaining flexible. He and Gerald Cormier worked as field hands for another concrete contractor in the region before starting Lancor, and therefore had a keen understanding of what employees expect. “We let people do their work,” Landry says. “We expect quality and hard work, but we let them do their work. We try to keep them busy and make sure there is always work available for them.”

Repeat Work

In May, Lancor Concrete Contractors completed work on the 130,000-square-foot Stade Moncton 2010 Stadium at the University of Moncton in Moncton, New Brunswick. The 10,000-seat stadium can be expanded to accommodate 20,000 seats and is the largest of its kind in Atlantic Canada. 

Lancor began the project in fall 2009. It worked with 3,000 cubic yards of concrete and installed cast-in-place bleachers, which was unique as most stadiums in this area are precast. Lancor withstood harsh weather conditions and worked under a strict timeline, but was able to complete the project in time for the July 2010 International Association of Athletics Federation World Junior Cham­pionships in Athletics track and field event.

According to Landry, Lancor prides itself on its ability to complete large, complex projects. “This company has an ability to thrive on challenging work, which makes us very competitive and gives us an advantage in the marketplace,” he says. “We have a reputation of being able to handle any job, and that is really due to the expertise of our construction crews. Without them, we couldn’t have built our company to its current level. 

In December, the contractor will complete the Eastern Wastewater Facility in Saint John, New Brunswick. Its work includes providing the concrete formwork for the 350,000-square-foot facility’s primary clarifier tanks, circular secondary clarifier tanks, aeration tanks and main process building with complex headwork. Although the project began in August 2009 and is slated for completion in December, Landry says Lancor should complete its work at least two months early. 

In July, the contractor began work on the eight-story, 175,000-square-foot Victoria Street Apartments in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and will complete the project in November. Lancor is working directly for the owner, who wanted to work with the company again after it successfully completed an underground park­ing garage at another apartment complex a few years ago. Landry says the majority of the company’s work comes from repeat clients and referrals. “We pride ourselves on giving good service to our clients, and that gets around,” he says.

Bridging the Gap

Lancor stands out in the province because it completes projects in all construction sectors ranging from civil and industrial to commercial, institutional and residential. This diversity enables the company to succeed throughout market fluctuations, and as a result, its workload and revenues have increased substantially in the past two years. 

“Our growth was very good for the last couple of years, but the market seems to be tapering off,” Landry notes. “The market is still out there – we just have to be more aggressive. Although we are fairly aggressive, we’ve been conscious about growing too quickly. We’re looking for stability, and our challenge is always finding qualified manpower and technical support.” 

He says the company often finds itself providing on-the-job training, such as safety, to field hands. “Safety is a major consideration of everyone now,” Landry notes. “It’s always been a concern, but it seems to be even more important now. We are ahead of the curve on that because we’ve had our own safety program for a long time. Our safety program – headed up by Lou Gulka – is strong and has been recognized by the New Brunswick Construction Safety Association. 

“We’ve also noticed our work is becoming more technical,” Landry adds. “In response, we’ve increased our technical and engineering staff who can handle that type of work and increase our capabilities.”

In the immediate future, Landry sees Lancor picking up more bridge building work such as the One Mile House Interchange bridge substructure. The 100,000-square-foot project began in November 2009 and will be completed by March 2011. Landry says the company expects to pour up to 22,000 cubic yards of concrete on the project.  

Further on into the future, Landry sees Lancor evolving into a partially employee-owned company with he and Cormier “taking a back seat” while the new management continues to carry on the values they so carefully instilled.

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