Ontario’s Top 10 Masonry industry leaders: Common qualities include innovation, durability and commitment

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msl showroom
Image from the MSL showroom

Ontario Construction News special feature

How do you select the top 10 leaders within Ontario’s masonry contracting and supply industry? We decided to assess the businesses based on their community and industry commitment, innovation and (appropriate for the building material), product durability.

It is hard enough to select finalists in any Top 10 category, so we aren’t trying to rank them further – these businesses are listed in alphabetical order.  However, they are all worthy of special leadership recognition.

Arriscraft

Based in Cambridge, Arriscraft has manufactured stone for commercial and residential projects for more than 65 years. The company says it “pioneered its environmentally benign natural process technology in the 1950s and which it has continued to enhance and refine ever since.” Notably, the business makes special efforts to maintain exceptionally positive relationships with its distributors, as well as designers and contractors, with value-added services including complimentary masonry envelope reviews, an online CADD Library, and architectural course offerings.

Boehmers (Hargest Block Ltd.)

Boehmers traces its roots to 1875, when Renhardt Boehmer established the business in the Town of Berlin (now Kitchener) – making it the second-oldest southwestern Ontario business. Long-term employee and general manager Paul Hargest purchased the company from St. Lawrence Cement in 2003, returning the business to family-owned status.

The company focuses exclusively on concrete block – in various shapes, sizes and colours. Its plant is located just west of Cambridge.

Brampton Brick

Brampton Brick’s story started in 1871 when James Packham opened the Packham Brick Works. The company was incorporated as Brampton Pressed Brick Company Ltd in the 1920s. It has grown to be one of North America’s largest and most successful masonry manufacturers, with plants in both Canada and the U.S. The company has built and maintained partnerships within the industry and has kept in touch with technological change –for example,  the manufacturing process uses robotic loaders, instead of conventional hand-loading.

Clifford Restoration Ltd.

This Scarborough business has built a reputation as a leader in the challenging field of masonry restoration in the Greater Toronto Area, with an incredible project list including the University of Toronto Munk restoration, the Canadian National Exhibition coliseum complex, the Lister Block in Hamilton, Pickering College, Trinity Church and the historic Osgoode Hall fence.

Columbia Masonry Contracting Inc., Nobleton

                Company president Rocco di Padre also is president of the Masonry Contractors’ Association of Toronto (MCAT). The business, which serves both residential and industrial, commercial and institutional markets, was established in 1980 It provides hands-on service, where senior supervisors along with masons, apprentices and labourers “focus on detail and workmanship.”

MCAT has represented its contractor members in collective bargaining with the Bricklayers’, Masons Independent Union of Canada, Local 1 for 50 years and for 20 years with the Universal Workers Union, LIUNA, Local 183. Overall the association’s members employ approximately 2,700 bricklayers and bricklayers’ assistants and account for 70 per cent of all masonry construction in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Con-Tact Masonry Limited

This company based in Oldcastle (south of Windsor) is one of Ontario’s largest unionized masonry contractors. Tony Masciotra established the business in 1989. The company says it works with owners, architects and engineers in the development stages to achieve the desired design aesthetics, while keeping projects on budget and schedule.

George and Amussen Limited (GA Masonry)

Bill George, a principal and vice-president with this successful contractor, is also CMCA’s president The company has successfully completed award-winning masonry projects across Ontario and the US.

  1. Santin Mason Contractor Ltd.

Adelio Santin established this Kingston-area masonry business in 1960, and the company has retained its family ownership. His son Rob Santin acquired the business in its fiftieth anniversary year, 2010. Santin has been awarded Ontario Masonry design awards in the Restoration, Institutional, Commercial and Residential High Rise categories. Clients include  institutions such as Queen’s University, the Royal Military College and Fort Henry, UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Merkley Supply Ltd., Ottawa

This eastern-Ontario masonry supply business goes back generations; it evolved from a brick kiln and manufacturing plant to become an extensive masonry products distributor when its property was expropriated in 1959 for the cross-city Queensway. Today the company leads and supports local industry and construction associations.  It helped initiate and is a key supporter of The Ottawa Hospital’s cycling fundraiser for research: The Ride, which has raised more than $11 million since it started in 2009.  See special profile page xx.

Thames Valley Brick and Tile

Thames Valley Brick and Tile leads the way in providing technical support and guidance to architects, engineers, and specification writers. It recommends the most appropriate brick and tile options and supports relevant associations and organizations with both financial and personnel resources. The company provides an incredible selection of more than 1,500 brick colours, textures, sizes and profiles. It has been in business since 1970.

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