Hanson Building Products

North America's leader in building product supply

Hanson Building Products North America is one of the world’s largest suppliers of building products for the construction industry. The company boasts 150 facilities and approximately 4,500 employees in North America, servicing builders, architects, contractors, engineers, cities and public authorities for commercial, residential and industrial applications.

The cornerstone of Hanson Building Products North America and its six divisions, Hanson Brick, Hanson Hardscapes, Hanson Roof Tile, Hanson Pipe & Precast, Hanson Pressure Pipe and Hanson Structural Precast, is sustainable development, hence the company’s sustainability vision: “Building on the past. Restoring the balance. Creating the future.” This sustainability vision has been crafted by Hanson Building Products employees and carried through the company. It incorporates as a mandate the responsibility to operate in a sustainable way, using traditional, reliable building materials that offer longevity and security, and manufacture products to be recycled and repurposed for infinite use.

Hanson Building Products President and CEO Richard Manning says the company “offers an expansive range of concrete and clay building products ranging from pipe, to brick, to roof tiles and pavers, along with the engineering insight and quality service needed to support our infrastructure and growing population.” Manning is a proponent of sustainable products: “Our products feature concrete and clay, which is inherently sustainable, and possesses the strength and durability to last a lifetime and beyond. We are part of an industry that carries a number of responsibilities — to the environment, to the communities in which we operate and to the safety of our workforce.  We are continuing to develop solutions that promote a more sustainable world in the future.”

With the help of Manning and Sue Tanenbaum, Vice President and General Manager, Hanson Pipe & Precast, Canada, CBJ gets the scoop on Hanson Building Products’ development and continued success.

“Everyone helps out and we are regionally-focused but also, as a group and different divisions, we always try to work together,” she says of Hanson Pipe & Precast in Canada, alluding to the expanding Hanson Building Products and its divisions: a group of thriving sections of the company committed to delivering sustainable, economical and reliable solutions to its customers throughout the concrete industry. Here is how the company that never says ‘no’ plans to charge ahead with expert employees and an unfaltering vision for further future collaboration with its customers.

Hanson Pipe & Precast enters Canada

Tanenbaum has been in the concrete business since 1990 and Hanson Pipe & Precast’s part, sparked by spotting a great opportunity ripe for building on in Canada, dates back to its first Southern Ontario market acquisition in 1999. During this time Tanenbaum’s family company, Loc Pipe, Inc., observed what Hanson Pipe & Precast had done and made contact, inviting Hanson Pipe & Precast to take a look at the facilities in place. Just four months later, Hanson Pipe & Precast acquired that family-owned company, bringing with it a brand new era of growth.

“I stayed on to oversee the company. Then in 2001 we acquired the largest competitor in the Southern Ontario market. That was Centennial Concrete Pipe,” Tanenbaum explains.

“They had three major operations throughout Southern Ontario, and then in 2007 we further acquired facilities in Quebec and we purchased two precast companies there, and also a pressure pipe company.”

The new era of growth had gotten off to a swift and promising start, but it wasn’t merely a series of acquisitions that earmarked Hanson Pipe & Precast as a strong contender for topping the market, it was its product focus. An excellent example of this is Hanson Pipe & Precast and Hanson Hardscapes’ storm water management offerings which, while Tanenbaum says has long-been something the company can deliver, has been relatively under-marketed until now.

Hanson Hardscapes and Hanson Pipe & Precast product excellence

Hanson Hardscapes was established in Canada after the 2007 acquisitions of Perma Paving Stone Co. and Navastone Inc., leading suppliers of concrete pavers and retaining wall products in Mississauga, Cambridge, and Woodstock, Ontario. Hanson Hardscapes is headquartered in Cambridge, Ontario and has five manufacturing/distribution facilities located in Mississauga, Markham, Cambridge and Woodstock, Ontario. According to Manning, “the division offers the most comprehensive selection of environmentally-friendly, intelligent and durable segmental concrete paving systems, retaining walls and specialty products for commercial and residential applications.” In addition, Hanson Hardscapes products fit multiple applications, from driveways and patios to poolsides, streetscapes and rooftops, with hundreds of styles and colours in which to choose.  

Hanson Pipe & Precast offers the most complete line of concrete pipe and precast products in North America for industrial applications such as highway and bridge systems, storm water retention, utilities tunnels and various undergound applications.  Concrete precast structures include reinforced elliptical pipe, manholes, bridge components and arch systems, box culverts, fittings and highway barriers, drainage structures, vaults, modular railroad crossings and various structural precast building components and utility structures.  These structures, says Manning, truly, “build the virtual backbone of society and allow us to function in a modern era.” Stormwater management is a critical part of this equation.

In the storm water management category, according to Tanenbaum, the current attention turning to Hanson’s storm water management products is more or less about, “putting a name to them,” now that the timing in line with market demand continues to press.

“We are always looking at new products and opportunities and I think the storm water management area has— over the last 10 years especially, with the increased focus on environmental solutions in Ontario and Quebec —always been a critical component and, in fact, the storm water product line [is something] we’ve been offering for the past 15 years,” she says.

“We’ve always been progressive, and we’re focusing on communicating that to the industry and our customers, because solutions like this are critical to our infrastructure and environment.”

Hanson Pipe & Precast’s most recent examples of innovative stormwater management products include the introduction of Stormceptor® OSR and StormTrap®.
“We are currently in the process of introducing the new precast concrete chambers for the Jellyfish™ filtration system and have developed a core stormwater management team to offer expert service and innovation for customers seeking storm water solutions,” added Tanenbaum.

For example, Hanson Pipe & Precast’s use of StormTrap®, a precast modular system with maximum water storage within an area and the minimal footprint and overall cost, demonstrates the kind of dedication to quality solutions and innovation that Hanson Pipe & Precast is renowned for—it targets every commercial, environmental and operation angle.  Hanson Hardscapes offers the AquaPave® system, which saves customers from building an entire pond or storm water system from scratch, minimizing cost, and can be laid under your average car park.

 “It’s intended to minimize the development footprint and leave things functioning as close as possible to how nature intended,” Tanenbaum says.
 “Hanson Pipe & Precast is the largest pipe and precast producer in Canada and we have a tremendous team. The success of our company is because of our employees,” Tanenbaum says.

Focused on sustainable products and company culture

Whilst Hanson’s product range is broad and by all accounts impressive, Tanenbaum says that the company is always looking at smaller innovations, extra details and mindful of the less obvious developments taking place in the industry.

 “Nine times out of 10 we can say we offer a complete solution to the contractor that is ready to install.”

Both internally and in its client base, the word ‘relationship’ holds a lot of weight with Hanson Building Products, as Manning says that while the company is always searching for sustainable and environmentally responsible product options, it is developing close working relationships with the building community as well. This is aimed at understanding what their needs and challenges are and, as a company, trying to work with them to develop solutions before anyone else. The company’s focus on sustainability includes many goals for next year, including various sustainability programs, and hiring staff whose focus is sustainability. Hanson is aiming to increase participation through product usage on LEED projects by 10 percent, grow the current employee base of LEED Green Associate or Accredited Professional credentials by a minimum of two team members in each additional division within company, and educate employees and increase awareness about sustainability over 2009 levels. In addition, Manning intends to develop a 2010 sustainability report for measuring standards and benchmarks—overall committing to a focus on continued management of sustainability initiatives.  

“We think that there’s going to be more collaboration with us as a manufacturer and the users, and the owners and the designers out there so that we can develop comprehensive solutions to meet modern or future business needs,” which include, of course, more sustainable products, says Manning.

Of course, building such productive relationships begins at home within the company and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Hanson Building Products has crafted great bonds with a top workforce to ensure it always delivers the very best whatever a customer might require.

“We are a large company but our business units are still fairly small in the sense that everybody works together. When we develop new products or face challenges on projects, we work in very close interaction with each other as a team,” Tanenbaum adds.

“I think that the ability to contribute and feel like you are contributing to the outcome is part of the appeal of working for the company.”

These firmly forged and successful working relationships are part of fostering a cross-division culture that will grow as time goes on. Tanenbaum says that developing cross-divisionally is true for the storm water products, which can, “span across different divisions within Hanson Building Products and we want to develop that flexibility in our company internally.”

Amongst a vast and unrivalled product offering, Hanson Building Products has a very clear direction on its growth, supported by its people, allowing it to move forward and continue to develop its market edge.  Starting with a strong vision, Hanson looks set to win across divisions, across the country. As Manning so aptly puts: “Hanson Building Products has a history of inherent sustainability, and will continue to focus on our advocacy of and our business practices to build a sustainable infrastructure for generations to come.”