Even during the most tumultuous economy the world has seen in a decade, Saskatchewan has experienced atypical growth in the past four to five years in great part due to a construction-driven economic boom. Construction in the province actually set an all-time record of over $2 billion in 2008, up 30 per cent from the previous year. While the national percentage of construction building permit dropped 5.3 per cent in 2008, Saskatchewan had the greatest percentage increase in Canada.
With over 78,000 employees in 78 different countries Lafarge has grown into a world leader in building materials by investing in local communities and developing local people. Lafarge Canada Inc. continues this course of action today in Saskatchewan, employing over 200 people across the province with locations in Saskatoon and Regina.
Lafarge has maintained a strong presence in Western Canada since 1956, when the first cement plant was built in Richmond, British Columbia. Lafarge is one of the most recognized names in construction today. Green and white mixer trucks have been a staple on roads in Saskatoon, Regina and all across the four western provinces for over 50 years.
But there is much more to Lafarge in Saskatchewan than just concrete trucks. “Focusing on construction materials, Lafarge are vertically integrated in cement, ready-mix concrete, aggregates, as well as asphalt and paving,” says Doug Pankiw, General Manager, Saskatoon. “These products make up the backbone of our cities, from bridges and roadways to schools and housing.”
The customer base for Lafarge is diverse, with the residential, commercial and industrial sectors all requiring the company’s materials for the foundation of their building needs. Lafarge works on the most high-profile projects in the province, including projects for PLC, Dominion, Quorex, Graham Construction and other commercial and industrial giants. “One of the company’s largest and most consistent clients for paving and aggregate work is the City of Saskatoon,” added Pankiw. “Lafarge offers its clients an intimate knowledge of the region, which includes special requirements imperative to the regions unique climate, on time delivery, technical expertise and customer service. This adds up to a positive impact on all projects.”
Developing and supporting local people—A key initiative
Lafarge takes pride in providing a positive work environment and challenging all employees to high levels of excellence. One of Lafarge’s strengths and keys to its continued success have been hiring and developing local individuals. The expertise and knowledge within the community is an irreplaceable trait. Lafarge is committed to hiring interns from the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Regina as well as SIAST (Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology). Providing these students with exposure to the business and learning opportunities will contribute to developing our leaders for tomorrow.
In 2007, Lafarge, in partnership with SIAST, created Saskatchewan’s first concrete finishing school. The school provided hands on experience and classroom instruction that has previously not been offered in this province. A key member in its startup, Wayne Heaslip, Paving Operations Manager, stated, “With a shortage of experienced skilled labour the program filled a need within the community and concrete industry,”
Lafarge believes in investing and supporting the communities they operate in. This can be directly seen through its capital investments, support of local charities, community sports teams and events such as the Huskies “Off the Leash” luncheon or Choc La Cure cancer fundraiser.
It also believes in supporting local education. In 2009, Lafarge committed to donate $25,000 to the University of Saskatchewan Engineering Department for new testing equipment. In addition, Norm Wood, Director of Quality Assurance and Quality Control, Western Canada provides a guest lecture twice yearly to the engineering students.
Sustainable and safe construction—Today’s necessity
Lafarge understands that sustainable construction practices are a necessity for the future. That means conducting business in a way that has minimal impact on the environment and providing products that meet today’s sustainable building design and community development. “This is evident in our investment in new equipment and technologies to reduce our carbon footprint, ensuring we protect the biodiversity of the land we mine and recycling construction materials,” says Pankiw. Today Lafarge Saskatchewan recycles over 60,000 tonnes of concrete and asphalt and has begun to recycle tear-off roof shingles, reducing the demand of landfills.
The most outstanding facet of this forward thinking company is its priority on safety. “Safety is our number one priority, so our goal of zero incidents is something we strive to achieve through our strong safety culture,” says Pankiw. According to Safety & Environment Coordinator Mark Corney, “Conducting day-to-day tasks safely and in such a manner that our fellow workers return home at night is simply how we do business.” All employees, from drivers to accountants, are exposed to rigorous safety training from on-site orientations to “tail-gate” safety meetings. These activities ensure that everyone is aware of the challenges that exist in an environment ripe with the risks that come with the industry and are supported by the company in their effort to work safe.
This focus has paid dividends for Lafarge. Its focus on safety has resulted in the company showing one of the lowest incident rates in the province and in 2009 and 2010 Lafarge Saskatoon and Regina had zero lost-time incidents.
Aggregates—Building the foundation
Aggregates are one of the most used construction materials in the world. It is in our roads, sidewalks, bridges, homes, schools and shopping malls. “As a result, aggregates are a resource that has to be effectively managed,” says Dayn Nilsen, Aggregate Operations Manager in Saskatoon. Lafarge works closely with local governments to comply with mining and environmental restrictions as well as road haul agreements. In addition, working with and respecting near-by residents in regards to noise, dust control and maintenance of their roads is very important.
“Lafarge can produce an array of products from road base to concrete and asphalt material “says Nilsen. “We have an extensive fleet of contract trucks that enable us to meet the demands of any job,”
Concrete—Offering innovation, quality & expertise
The most highly visible part of Lafarge’s business is ready mix concrete. Regina’s General Manager, Bill Genert proudly recalls, “The Lafarge green and white mixer trucks have been delivering high quality concrete in both Regina and Saskatoon to customers for over 50 years.”
Lafarge strategic growth towards innovation is evident in its specialty concretes. AGILIA™ is a revolutionary concrete mix that sets a new standard for cast-in-place concrete. It is a self-consolidating concrete that requires no vibration to provide a beautiful surface finish. AGILIA™ has gained prominence due to its reduction in placing requirements, which can result in reduced construction time and costs.
Specialty concrete can be more than just grey,” says Genert. Lafarge’s ARTEVIA™ provides high performance concrete that offers texture options as well as a vast selection of colors.
“Lafarge maintains a company-wide dedication towards quality through in-house quality assurance control labs,” says Brent Halbach, Concrete Operations Manager in Saskatoon. Local quality assurance technicians continually monitor and test the aggregates and concrete mixes to ensure that each product is up to Lafarge’s high standards. We are able to draw upon our global network of experts to ensure any question a customer has is answered in the best possible way.
Asphalt and Paving – for today’s communities
Lafarge’s asphalt and paving division in Saskatoon—Central Asphalt and Paving Ltd—takes pride in their commitment to sustainable construction through its products and several key advancements in recent years. Lafarge reinvested in a multi-million dollar upgrade to the existing asphalt plant in 2009 and 2010 to replace an older well-used, but out of date, plant. The new plant is an excellent example of current state of the art asphalt production technology; it is more fuel efficient with lowered emissions and produces less waste material. The new plant employs Double Barrel Green technology developed by Astec Industries Inc., North America’s leading manufacturer of asphalt production equipment.
This new plant produces DURACYCLE™, an environmentally friendly asphalt that incorporates high levels of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) in conjunction with recycled asphalt roofing shingles. DURACYCLE™ brings new service life to materials that would otherwise end up in community landfills, plus it reduces the consumption of virgin sand and gravel.
DURACLIME™ is warm-mix asphalt that is produced and placed at lower temperatures than conventional hot-mix asphalts. By lowering the temperature of the mix, fuel consumption at the asphalt plant is reduced, thereby minimizing the overall CO2 footprint of manufacturing. “This is the product of choice for environmentally conscious communities”, says Duane Anderson, Asphalt Operations Manager.
The lower temperatures result in less smoke and fumes during placing which improve working conditions for crews and can minimize the disturbance to residents and businesses in the local community. It provides better compaction and a more uniform mix than conventional hot-mix during rolling, which leads to improved material durability and performance over its total life span on roadways. A typical 1 km overlay section of DURACLIME™ will offset the annual carbon emissions of two passenger vehicles.
In 2010, Lafarge became the first Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories (CCIL)-certified asphalt lab in the province of Saskatchewan.
A world leader in building materials
Lafarge’s profile is exemplary in its well-roundedness, enveloping sustainability, community involvement and customer services into its product and corporate portfolio. Lafarge has expanded to encompass more than just cement production from its early beginnings.
Today it is vertically integrated in aggregates, concrete as well as asphalt and paving and is dedicated to improving the communities in which it operates. In 2010 and for the sixth year in a row, the Lafarge Group was listed in the “Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World”.
Lafarge recognizes its position as promoters in the Province of Saskatchewan’s future growth. With our multiple product lines, dedicated people, attention to service and quality as well as commitment to building relationships, Lafarge continues to be the supplier of choice to its customers.