Marid Industries Limited

A Strong Foundation for the Future

Marid Industries, based out of Windsor Junction, Nova Scotia, is one of Atlantic Canada’s leading structural steel and miscellaneous metals fabricators and erectors. The company is a contractor specializing in the fabrication and erection of structural steel and miscellaneous metals. Marid engages in the rehabilitation and reinforcement of steel structures, which includes high-rises, railroad and highway bridges. They also perform mechanical equipment installations and heavy engineered lifts.

Starting from scratch

Marid Industries commenced business in 1983 and is locally owned. General Manager David Oulton explains how the business started, and how he grew a business with only $3,700 in his pocket:

“There were many businesses in our industry that didn’t survive the recession in the early 80s. When the original company I was with failed, my options were to go to P.E.I. and fish lobsters or try to start a business in the industry I had worked in before the recession. Needless to say, I didn’t choose lobster fishing, and my wife and I started the company people know today. It took a lot of hard work, and hard working people, but I’m glad I made the decision. Originally, I had planned that we would never have more than 17 or 18 employees, because one of the reasons that the other businesses failed in the recession was because companies employed more people that their market could support.”

However, although they did not plan it, the work created by one customer in Marid’s early days eventually led them to need more than just a dozen people. By the time the company was two years old, Marid had 27 employees. They responded to another economic downturn in 1992 by strategically cutting back business to about 40% of its regular activity. But as the marketplace is apt to do, the downturn righted itself. Now the company employs about 125 people, and this year has revenues of over $30 million.

Is Oulton worried about the rumoured impending recession? After so much history, and surviving two recessions already, he is quite optimistic about the future.

“We have several larger contracts that will keep us going through the winter, and help us weather the storm of a possible recession. However, everyone is wondering what’s going to happen with major industrial proposals, those projects that are in the works but have not been contracted out yet. My main concern is 14-16 months down the road, when larger entities, like the provincial governments, are slow to start projects. Up until then, business will continue on the momentum that’s been created the last few years in a relatively prosperous economy. But a year and a half down the road – that’s when our business might be affected. Yes, we’ll have to look over our shoulder, but for now, we’ve planned for a possible downturn. Even if the construction industry collapses entirely, we have the stamina to outlast an unstable economy.”

Keeping the right people

Oulton knows, from his long history in the business, that keeping a tight rein on expenditures and being able to keep the right people with the company will make Marid a good place to be for years to come. Competition for staff is fierce with Western Canada, where many in the construction trade are going to work on larger projects in Fort McMurray and the like. However, Oulton has done his best to ensure that employees want to stay with Marid, and he says that “as long as we make it a good place to work, we will have good employee retention.”

Marid services the Atlantic Provinces and specific customers in the United States. The majority of their projects are design build contracts. Professional engineers and technicians work directly with owners or prime contractors’ engineers to standardize and expedite designs, providing the customer with faster turnovers and possible cost savings.

Marid is currently working on projects with regional hospitals, the port of Halifax, and repeat customers in the U.S. They are an environmentally friendly enterprise: “We’re very careful about where we buy, the waste we produce, and the environmental impact we have.”

Marid is CISC certified. Oulton chose CISC certification over ISO certification because “the CISC is very concerned with the quality of our products themselves and the documentation and processes we use to make sure things are done properly. It simply makes more sense for what we do.”Overall, Oulton has a very simple philosophy when it comes to the family business. “We try to be responsible citizens in the community. We do our part, and we’re involved in many organizations in Nova Scotia – raising money for scholarships and endowments, and helping get students into the construction industry.”

As Oulton heads toward a well-deserved retirement, the company is embarking on a succession plan. But Oulton promises “I’ll be keeping an office when I’m done”.

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