Established in 1952, Municipal Ready-Mix has become a fixture in Nova Scotia, serving the Cape Breton regional municipality. In fact, since its inception, the company has had a hand in every single construction project in the region, in one way or another.
As Dave McKenna, President of Municipal Ready-Mix noted, “We’ve been part of every major project that has ever been constructed in this area from 1952 to today, either a major part or sometimes it more of a minor part.” The Municipal Ready-Mix name is longstanding in the industry and has become synonymous with quality products and service.
Municipal Ready-Mix has changed over the years, adjusting to the shifting economic landscape in the region. Though its services and products are different, one thing has remained the same; The company satisfies its customers regardless of how varied their needs are. Innovation and adaptation have been crucial factors in its ongoing growth and longevity.
As well as its ready-mixed concrete and asphalt, Municipal Ready-Mix offers complementary services such as roadway reconstruction, excavation, general construction, curb, gutter and sidewalk installation and sewer and water main repairs and installations
Municipal Ready-Mix offers a complete selection of products which includes products to speed or slow concrete setting, high and mid-range plasticizers, shrinkage and structural fibers to prevent cracking, a range of tints and the ability to customize mix modifications to meet any specification.
McKenna believes that economic situations have been a catalyst for change, forcing the company to be adaptable. “As our economy changed, we had to change to keep afloat… We had to be innovative. We had to change with the times. We went from a very heavily industrialized economy to one that is depending now on governments.”
“There was two or three products that really stayed the same. That was the asphalt paving products and our ready-mixed concrete products, as well as some of our aggregates. They stayed the same, but the application of these products changed quite drastically, and we had to change with them,” he said.
Municipal Ready-Mix’s customer base has shifted over the years, and now the bulk of its work is for become government entities such as the Department of Transportation. “We used to handle a lot of coal at one time, but of course now we don’t do any. We used to do a lot of work for the steel mill, and now we don’t do any, so it’s been a changing market for us,” said McKenna.
The company now offers water and sewer line construction and continues to identify new opportunities to expand its services. It has also played a role in environmental remediation projects, recently being a part of the team that worked on the Sydney Tar Pond which was the largest contract in its history.
The Sydney Tar Ponds site was regarded as one of the most contaminated sites in Canada and was previously home to one of North America’s largest steel mills. This brownfield site was remediated, foundations were reconstructed with new soils and utilities, and landscape components were added. Together it creates an aesthetically pleasing and welcoming community space.
This area has been converted into a waterfront park – the Open Hearth Park – with paths and trails, recreation and athletic fields, a playground, pedestrian bridges, and 125 acres of repurposed green space for wildlife to re-inhabit. Municipal Ready-Mix was proud to be a part of this project.
Being able to secure high-profile contracts with government-level clients, as well as repeat work, speaks volumes of Municipal Ready-Mix’s level of service and excellence of its projects. “We try to produce top-notch products and apply them to the locations in a professional manner with good workmanship,” said McKenna. “We have a long-term workforce. Some of them have been with us all of their lives, with many of them with us for twenty years. So we do have some expertise on hand, and all of our concrete and asphalt is first rate.”
McKenna said that quality standards are upheld, “by monitoring and testing and adjusting and being innovative when new systems come out. We use computers very extensively in our processes, and we try to keep on top of technology.”
One of the company’s greatest strengths is its ability to innovate to remain at the forefront of the industry. “We try to read the marketplace, and try to be ahead of the curve when we can,” McKenna acknowledged. “There’s a number of people in the company who are plugged into different areas,” evaluating and integrating ideas that support the company’s growth.
“In the past, we were very early adopters of computerized batching for ready-mixed concrete operations,” McKenna recalled. “We started that back in the 1970s, which is ahead of most people. Our asphalt plant is state-of-the-art. It’s an older plant, but we put in all the new controls and new computerized batching system.”
Even Municipal Ready-Mix’s quarry is equipped with state-of-the-art crushers and the latest innovations and computerized controls. In addition to investing in the latest equipment, processes, and technologies, the company invests heavily in its people.
“We invest in our employees through training programs. We do a lot of training for our employees. We do a lot of health and safety training, and we supply all the equipment they need and keep that up to date. We have a very safe work record, and I think the employees, for the most part, enjoy working for us and want to continue,” McKenna said.
Much of the work is seasonal. Regardless of the fact that the company cannot provide year-round employment for all of its employees, the same employees return year after year to work for Municipal Ready-Mix, and that is a real source of pride for McKenna.
The company is currently undergoing another transition, this time looking to new markets that will put its capacities to the test. “We’re now trying to market our quarry materials offshore. That will be a new venture for us when that happens, and we’re looking very forward to that,” McKenna explained.
“We’re always looking for innovation and different ways of doing things and keeping ahead like that,” he added, “But our products don’t transport well because they are very heavy, and the cost of transporting them is quite hefty. Transporting offshore by water is a much more economical mode of transport, so we can go great distances with that.”
This growth strategy could have significant implications for Municipal Ready-Mix, its team of 165 employees, as well as the greater service area. As McKenna noted, “If we move forward with the offshore market, that’s going to change the whole picture, not only here for us but for a lot of people who live in the area.”
It continues to find ways to give back to the community that has supported it through the years. It is committed to purchasing materials and supplies locally, where possible. The company also helps the nearby high school athletic teams, university, and hospital in several ways.
“We buy the materials locally,” explained McKenna. “Some we can’t. Liquid asphalt, powdered cement – we have to buy it outside. Other than that, almost everything else is purchased locally. So we support – in some way, shape, or form – a lot of local industry. It’s a smaller community, and we tend to work together and help each other where we have to, so it’s been very rewarding from that point of view.”
Success is not by accident. Being attuned to market trends and forecasts, adopting new technology and encouraging the integration of innovations to stay ahead of the industry curve has positioned Municipal Ready-Mix to remain a longstanding industry leader. With the right team and the ability to support it, Municipal Ready-Mix is set to have a future that is as rich as its past.