ConCreate USL Ltd.

After growing from a small concrete repair contractor into a heavy civil concrete company over the course of 30 years, there isn’t much ConCreate USL Ltd. hasn’t been hired to do. So when an owner needs a unique solution to a project problem that isn’t encountered every day, the company  doesn’t back down from the challenge.

“We do bring an out-of-the-box thinking to the table.,” Senior Project Manager Marlen Dinovitzer says. “We bring an openness to it. Let’s think about it and talk about it for an hour or two, and quite often it does the trick.”

ConCreate USL was originally founded as Underground Services Ltd., a tunneling contractor in Moncton, New Brunswick, that focused on repairing railway tunnels. After experimenting with shotcrete to strengthen and repair concrete structures, Gordon Tozer bought the company in 1983 and renamed it Underground Services (1983) Ltd. The company became a full general contractor in 1986, and began expanding throughout Canada. 

“We took the step from middle-sized rehabs to larger new rehabs,” Dinovitzer says. “Once you’re into larger rehabs, building new structures was a natural progression. The only difference is the skill set of the crew.”

In 2007, the USL Group of Companies became ConCreate USL Ltd. after opening a new warehouse and office facility in Calgary to better serve the western half of Canada. Dinovitzer credits a booming construction market in this region for helping grow ConCreate USL into a 700-employee heavy civil contractor after its humble start as a small repair operation. Currently, offices and shop facilities are being established in Truro, Nova Scotia, to better serve the Atlantic provinces.

“We had a big helping hand from a lot of work out west in Alberta and British Columbia,” he says. “ConCreate is the one to fill that void.

“Once we got the right size and scale, we can now build any project wherever we need to with a work force that is willing and capable to do what it takes for the company.” 

ConCreate takes pride in the reputation it has created for taking on the most complex projects available.

“While the projects we carry out are rarely straightforward, the philosophy at ConCreate USL Ltd. most certainly is,” President Gordon Tozer said in a statement.

Slide Piece

Building a bridge in a sensitive wetland area is a project with enough red flags to make most contractors think twice before bidding. However, ConCreate USL boasts a bevy of experience building in numerous types of terrain that helps it work through such situations posed by the Strandherd-Armstrong bridge for the city of Ottawa, the project’s owner. 

The $48 million bridge will span 143 meters across the Rideau River and feature 10 lanes – four for traffic, two each for buses, bikes and turning. The project broke ground in June 2010 and will be completed at the end of 2011, opening for traffic in early 2012.

Environment in Mind

The structure requires 7,400 meters of concrete, about 1,000 tons of rebar and 2,100 tons of structural steel. As if ConCreate USL didn’t have its hands full with something of this magnitude, it also had to be constructed off Rideau Canal and slid into place – a process ConCreate USL was forced to learn on the fly.

“Since the Rideau Canal is one of the World Heritage Sites, as a result, they are fairly protective of it,” Dinovitzer says. “So, we had to work around an awful lot of rules.”

Instead of building in the river, ConCreate USL and the construction team constructed the entire structure on the river’s east bank and pushed it to its final destination on a set of carriers. The steel fabricator on the project – Cherubini Metal Works of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia – is working with Con­Create to create a launching and erection system.

“The owner and the designer of record had to make small concessions to make this method work, like temporary supports in the water to carry launching truss,” Dinovitzer says. “That approach had been taken to other projects, so there was a willingness to try something new.”

ConCreate USL has a solid plan in place but is still in the midst of construction. Bringing a project like this into reality requires a group of subcontractors that are ready to make it work.

“We had to find the right set of subcontractors that were willing to buy into the scheme,” he says. “We had to find the right consulting firm that would work with us to … make all the details come to fruition. Doing all the concrete work, it was up to us to find the right subs willing to buy in and put in the same make-it-happen attitude.”

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