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Sometimes, doing a good thing is easy

pic 012My General Manager, Jamie Allen, came to me last year and explained that he had been approached by BC Woodworks, a non-profit association that helps developmentally challenged adults integrate into the workforce, by training them in woodworking. They had offered to finish our cedar slats for our Columbia Picnic Table – our most popular table.

BC Woodworks would, Jamie explained, supply slats finished to our specifications. This would include getting quality cedar planks, drying and sorting them, sanding, edge dressing and finishing with Sikkens Cetol – as had all been done here in our plant. The work would be done by people who have a hard time, because of their challenges, gaining meaningful employment. It would be done for the same or less than what we were already paying, and we would be helping out a really good cause.

When you own a business, you have the ability to multiply your charitable donations, and – I believe – an obligation. Most business people feel this way. We can give to charities at home, but our businesses have the ability to generate much more towards good causes than we could easily contribute ourselves. Our colleagues at The Langley Concrete Group donate large amounts to cancer research. Having been touched by cancer as my family has – the Omelaniec family, owners of Langley Concrete, lost their father to this insidious disease – they are strong supporters of  cancer research. At Sanderson Concrete, we applaud their efforts and try to do our small bit as well. If you’re in the market for civil infrastructure precast concrete products, Langley Concrete is the place to look.

Most business people I know will support numerous causes, but there is usually one that is dear to their heart. Some offer donations of cash or goods to help fund raise, expecting nothing more in return than a mention at the podium or the ability to tape a business card to the donation as it sits on the prize table. Many will help Police associations, the Fallen Firefighter’s cause, cancer, heart disease or something a neighbor may be afflicted by. Then there are the larger causes that maybe hit closer to home – cancer and heart disease for me. My dad has heart disease and has had cancer and my mom has lost a large part of her family to this terrible disease.

It costs a bit of time and money, but I believe that you have to give back to the communities you earn your living in when and where you can. Sometimes, though, without looking and with very little effort or cost on your part, you are afforded an opportunity for your business to do a some good. BC Woodworks has done this for us. We are not spending any more than we would anyway, and we can steer a little work towards a really good organization that is doing something important.


Wine shipping box made by BC Woodworks

Recently, BC Woodworks had an open house, showcasing their work and introducing  the guests to the workers. Jamie and I were fortunate enough to be invited and we met a couple of the guys who are finishing our cedar. It was a humbling experience for me. We were thanked by Kevin, Pratap and Teri  – the managers and director – for what we were doing, but we really didn’t feel like we are doing anything more than working with a new supplier. BC Woodworks is providing us a service, and they are doing a wonderful job.

We have a lot of great suppliers, many of whom we have done business with for over 25 years. highbackAnd we can now proudly call BC Woodworks one of our suppliers. They finish our table slats and now our bench slats as well. I would encourage you to visit their website – especially if you are looking for a little cedar work. From gift boxes for wine to some beautiful garden furniture and custom work, these guys are really good.

Shameless plug of the day: BC Woodworks

What do you mean, “Concrete PRODUCTS?!?”

Precast concrete picnic table at Lafarge Lake Park, Coquitlam, BC

Precast concrete picnic table at Lafarge Lake Park, Coquitlam, BC

When someone asks me what I do, and I respond that I have a precast concrete company, invariably, they ask either, “Concrete, as in driveways?” or simply, “Precast?”

Typically, when concrete is thought of at all, it is thought of as the stuff we park our cars on, or the barriers along the highway. Yet when I explain that we have a factory – or plant as we say in our industry – and that we make concrete products, I usually get a curious look. Not curious, as in odd – but actually curiosity; Concrete PRODUCTS? Like what?

As long as humans have made concrete, we have made products from this amazing material. Boxes for plants, bricks for buildings, column sections and more have been found in the ruins of ancient Rome. And in our modern world, concrete products are all around you – you simply have to look. The next time you throw out a paper coffee cup – look: it may be a precast concrete garbage can that you are tossing your trash into. Or that table you sat on at Wendy’s with the kids after soccer practice last night? Precast concrete.

Your drinking water flows through precast concrete pipes before it gets to your home – and leaves the same way.

But that is only a small part of the large group of products made from sand, stone, cement and water, known as “Precast Concrete”

Precast concrete manufacturers come in as many sizes and specialties as any manufacturing group. There are specialists and companies like ours, Sanderson Concrete, that are extremely diverse in their product lines. Whether it’s a brick and block manufacturer that specializes in paving stones and patio slabs, a pipe manufacturer with multi-million dollar machines pumping out pipe and manhole by the kilometer every day, or a small mom and pop operation with three employees – mom, pop and junior – who make a few bird baths and benches in their garage, precast concrete manufacturers take advantage of the fact that their raw material – concrete – is liquid, and can flow into just about any shaped mould they can dream up.

Sanderson Concrete fits neatly in the middle of the pack. We are a medium sized precaster with a wide range of products. With three main divisions, our diversity is our strength.

Our Utility division makes parking curbs, sumps, manholes and other drainage products.

Our landscape division produces site amenities such as planters – large and small,  furniture, such as picnic tables and benches, drinking fountains, garbage cans, tree grates and bollards.

Our architectural division produces window sills and lintels, signage and wall panels, stair treads, large custom pavers for public spaces and much, much more.

Our custom precast division spans all three of the other main divisions with a focus on custom architectural work.

We have produced custom stair treads for universities, embassies and office buildings throughout Canada and the US – including the offices of some well-know Canadian architects.

Window sills, lintels, panels and signage by the thousands on buildings from New York to Vancouver, and Florida to Alaska to Ontario. Some of our concrete picnic tables have made their way to the Grand Canyon and all throughout British Columbia and beyond. Just because concrete is heavy, doesn’t mean you can’t ship it across the country!

Sanderson Concrete’s prime focus is small and medium sized precast units with tight tolerances and architectural finishes. Although we do not manufacture extremely large products such as double-tees and larger wall panels, we have produced small bridge decks, 25’-0 panels and multi-thousand unit runs of custom pavers, sills, stair treads and panels.

Sanderson Concrete Inc. was founded in 1929 and has been owned by the Arntorp family since 1988. In the late 1980’s Sanderson Concrete’s focus began to shift towards custom and architectural precast concrete.  While still maintaining a solid Landscape or site furnishings division as well as a utility products line, Sanderson Concrete has become the significant producer of architectural precast concrete elements in the Vancouver area.

Welcome to our blog! As we move forward, we’ll try and have a little bit of fun. This blog is where we can write a little about some of the things that we do. Stories about projects and events that maybe don’t fit too neatly into our website and other marketing materials. Hopefully you will find some insights into what we do and what precast concrete is. We may not be experts at all things precast, but what we do make, we make very well. Feel free to drop me a line with questions or comments. We’d be glad to help – and if we don’t know the answer, we probably know someone who does! Good questions may result in good blog posts – or maybe we’ll just answer you directly…

I invite you to visit our website to take a closer look at some of what we do – and you are always welcome to come visit the plant – we are 12665 116 Avenue in Surrey, British Columbia.

Jan Arntorp, President

Hello world!

Picture 255

Custom Precast Concrete Fountain Coping at the International Departure Lounge at Vancouver International Airport

Hello world! Interesting title. Not mine – it’s a sample post, provided by WordPress so you can see what your blog pages will look like. I was going to delete it and come up with something myself to introduce our new blog.

But why not run with it, I thought? This really is an introduction of sorts, isn’t it? Everything else we have ever put out has been carefully scripted and crafted to fit the marketing wisdom of the day – brochures, ads in magazines and newspapers, and, as media has evolved, websites (our first one was a couple of scanned sheets that my sister did for us – here’s our latest and greatest), email and mass marketing campaigns and the like.

But this is meant to be a bit different. Perhaps a bit less formal. We’ll try and tell our story and that of our products, relationships with our suppliers and customers. Maybe it will evolve – as these things do – into something completely different. Maybe it will be an abject failure and be relegated to the dung hill of bad ideas that seem to grab my attention then wane, dying a slow painful – and sometimes expensive – death.

Or maybe it will simply be another way for us to showcase how truly diverse we are as a precast concrete manufacturer. While it certainly is true that you can’t be all things to all people, I always enjoy showing our production facilities to people who really know what you can do with precast. Because even people in construction – engineers, architects and contractors – are surprised at how much we actually do.

It often starts with a contractor or architect coming to see us for a custom piece that they either can’t get elsewhere, or are unsure of our capabilities. We then discuss their project in detail, and take them out to the shop or the yard for a more visual description of what we are talking about.

Invariably, as we walk past planters, concrete picnic tables, window sills, signs for hotels, pipe, and parking curbs, they will exclaim something like, “Wow! I never realized you guys made so much stuff!”

Sanderson Concrete has been around for a long time – 1929 as far as we can tell – and the Arntorp family (that’s us!) have owned it since 1988 – perhaps that is a story for another time., though. We’re not the biggest precaster in town – we are friends with them, though, and if we don’t make something, we’ll steer you to the ones that do. But we are a pretty good size, and we can probably help you with your project. So just because you don’t see it on our website, don’t think that we can’t make it.

So come on by and say hello! That means, you, World! You’re all welcome!