The precast concrete market is one where competition is fierce. This is neither a ground-breaking or surprising statement. What may come as a surprise, however, is that there is still a company in the Ontario region that is offering genuine innovation, dedication and excellence over such a prolonged period of time that it is currently mid-way through its seventh decade. M CON Products was established in 1989 and has grown to be an industry leader in precast concrete products for the sewer and watermain industry. However, the story of this company goes substantially further than this. M CON is a subsidiary of Central Precast Inc. which started out working from an unheated garage on Preston Street in 1956. During these early years, the fledgling business was producing precast steps for two of the largest housing developers of the time. Things have grown considerably since these humble beginnings and now M CON, has developed to be regarded as one of the finest producers of precast products in Ontario.
For Central Precast, the decision to expand its company structure and launch M CON Products was one of necessity. The company had experienced huge levels of success. The growth in multiple areas being the stimulus for a subsidiary that had the skills and opportunity to focus on a section of the market. Marco Mion, General Manager at M CON, explains how the company has excelled from the already high standards it was beginning from. “M CON, which actually dates back to 1956 when our parent company, Central Precast was founded. Essentially, most of the products that we manufacture today started out at this facility. It was a demand in the market, this increased need to expand, that led to our growth and to our current location. Today we are Eastern Ontario’s largest family owned and operated precast concrete infrastructure products producer. We manufacture products such as concrete, pipe, maintenance holes, catch basins, headwalls, box culverts and retaining walls to name a few products.”
Given that the company has been building experience and expertise since 1956, it is no wonder to discover that M CON is one of the leading figures in the precast industry. Serving municipal, commercial and residential markets alike, the company is founded on three driving principles; to offer innovative precast solutions, cost savings and unmatched customer service to its clients on every project. When considering the rich heritage that M CON, and by extension Central Precast, holds, Marco is quick to explain that the company does not necessarily try to compete with others in the field. Conversely, it seems that a desire to better itself time and time again is one of the main contributing factors to the company’s longevity and continued success. “For the past few years, we have taken on a new mantra; ‘Our biggest competition is ourselves.’ We always try to be better, and to continue to improve each year. So long as we’re better than we were last year, then I think that will stand out.”
Equally, it is acknowledged that one key factor in attaining these self-made targets is by having a driven and knowledgeable staff behind the scenes. Marco is keen to stress that it is this willingness to study the macro, to tackle each challenge with a problem-solving attitude, that helps the company reach the high standards that it sets for itself. “We are looking at ways to make the jobs easier, more efficient and create a better work environment. We have a team of skilled technical individuals who approach each problem, or everyday request with an open mind. Our collective goal from the beginning is to produce quality products that will serve the communities in which we live and work in for generations.”
“We are looking at ways to make the jobs easier, more efficient and create a better work environment.”
This problem-solving attitude has led the company to some great successes through the years, building lasting working relationships across the region as a result. Given the nature of precast concrete products, it could be assumed that every other company is capable of delivering to the same standards. However, as Marco explains it, M CON offers its clients an incredible level of experience and skill which means that when a custom product is needed, his company can ensure that clients get what they need for their project, regardless of the requirements. “Clients come to us with various site issues and various projects they are looking for help with. We are here to assist them and find a solution despite any challenges we may face. More often than not we are working on creating custom products for them. Our clients come to us with a request, we look it over with great detail, we then take that concept and provide a solution.”
Pinpointing the cause for such a long and established history within the industry is no easy task. In fact, even excluding the traction gained by Central Precast, M CON itself has been providing for its clients for over thirty years now. What is clear is that a combination of factors are helping to ensure that the company is right at the forefront of its industry. But is there is any one reason for the company’s longevity? According to Marco, the answer is no. However, he does list a number of contributing dynamics that have certainly strengthened the company’s resolve throughout the years. “The first thing that comes to mind is our dedicated employees. They show up every day, eager to take on problems and find solutions whether it be an HR, production or customer request. Might I add, we have employees who have been with us for up to 40 years, which shows their dedication that much more. We also provide superior customer service, with a focus on quality and we have done so for a long time. Which leads into the relationships that we have built and the confidence we have instilled in our clients over the years. They really put their trust in us and continue to come back.”
So what does a company that has excelled in its sector for sixty-five years do next? The answer, unsurprisingly, is that it continues to do the things that helped it reach this point. M CON is leading the way in both innovation and dedication which has resulted in some high-profile projects recently. None more so than a new purpose-built facility in Ottawa for Amazon. This project, according to Marco, showcased the company’s ability to create bespoke solutions for clients, regardless of the difficulty or scale. “We just completed one of our largest Stone Strong retaining wall projects for the new Amazon building in Ottawa. The site conditions required a larger block than we stock. We had to modify the forms to produce these custom sized blocks. There were hundreds of them, on top of all the other standard blocks we had to produce for this specific project. It was great to see the engineering department and the production department work together collaboratively.” Simply put, by listening to their staff, problems get solved. In a crowded market it takes something special to stand out. Based on a track record that dates back to a time when Rock and Roll was only beginning to sweep through the nation, it is a safe bet to follow what is happening at M CON. For Marco, it is easy. Trust the staff that got you here. “In the past there would have been a lot of direction coming from the office. We now work closely with the plant staff. Their approach often differs from the office and we value and respect that. They are in the plant every day and they know what we are truly capable of. When we have custom projects, we head to the guys on the floor and ask for their input on how we can enhance certain products or whatever it may be as well as solutions on making the process more efficient.”