Member Profile: CanCrete’s Husband-Wife Team Serves Ontario’s Pumping Needs

With their keen ability to balance—and merge—family and professional life, Eric and Marcia Duiker represent the next generation of concrete pumping businesses.

ACPA is excited about our recent merger with the Concrete Pumping Association of Canada (CPAC). We’ve had a long history of Canadian membership, and we’re proud of our North American presence. Now, our Canadian members have a dedicated forum representing their needs. Working together, we’ll create a synergy that will advance the greater concrete pumping community. As we advocate for common interests and share resources on both sides of the border, we see a bright future for concrete pumping in North America.

To celebrate this important merger, we thought it was an ideal opportunity to profile one of our members from Canada. Concrete Pumping magazine recently sat down with Eric and Marcia Duiker of CanCrete Equipment Ltd., a concrete pump distributor with two locations in Ontario.

Like many ACPA members, family is important to the Duikers. But Eric and Marcia have found a unique way to merge both home and work life. The Duikers’ partnership in business and at home represents the future of concrete pumping businesses. With family and children involved every step of the way, the Duikers have found a path to achieving their dreams while giving back to their community and the concrete pumping industry.

Concrete Way of Life

One might say concrete runs in the Duikers’ veins. In 1988, Eric’s father Archie founded Fastform, distributor of insulated concrete forms, and Orangeville Concrete Pumping in 1989 (known today as Premier Concrete Pumping). Eric has spent his lifetime in the concrete pumping industry.

Eric met Marcia at the University of Waterloo in Ontario where they were both pursuing engineering degrees. The two married in 2005 and followed separate engineering careers. After 10 years away from Toronto, the couple decided to return home and Eric joined his family’s pumping business.

“We wanted our children to grow up near our families, so we knew it was time to return to the Toronto area,” says Marcia.

While Eric moved ahead in the family pumping business, Marcia continued a corporate career path. She worked at Procter & Gamble as a manufacturing process engineer, advancing to a department manager in demand planning. Their two boys, Aidan, 11, and Grant, 9, were born during the P&G years. Marcia’s next step was a move to Mars Canada (Effem Foods).

The birth of their daughter Blythe in 2014 prompted a major shift in career path for Marcia. It was then the couple decided that Marcia would join Eric in the pumping business, leveraging her experience and background to further develop their business.

“I loved my job at Mars, but we realized there were so many things we could accomplish by working together,” says Marcia. “When Eric and I worked separately, our careers were always pulling at each other. Now, instead of pulling against each other, we’re pushing both careers forward.”

CanCrete has two locations, with Eric manning the Orangeville operation and Marcia overseeing the new Mississauga facility.

“I think our partnership succeeds because our work ethic is very similar,” says Marcia. “In the end, our goals are always the same. While our paths to get there just might be different, we’re united regardless. We bring unique skills and value to our business; we both have a lot to offer, and we respect each other.”

Of course, it’s not always “sunshine and roses,” as Eric points out. But they “aim to still leave work at work and come home to our kids,” he explains. “If we have to pick up work again later at night, we do.”

At least a couple nights a week, it’s not uncommon for the two to sit on the couch after the kids have gone to bed with their laptops open, finishing the day’s tasks.

“We used to sit on our back deck at night discussing our future, and how we wanted to go about accomplishing our goals,” says Marcia. “It’s been a lot of hard work, for us and the team, but CanCrete has accomplished much of what Eric and I spoke about back then over beer(s) in the yard. We are blessed big, and always aim big for the future (yes … usually with beer)”.

Eric and Marcia acquired the CanCrete business in 2013 and have grown it significantly in that time. ACPA is one of many building blocks that has contributed to their development, one that they are very thankful for. Here’s what Eric and Marcia have to say about their business, how ACPA has helped them grow and what the CPAC merger means to the Canadian pumping industry.

Concrete Pumping (CP): What’s CanCrete’s background?

Eric: CanCrete has been in the Greater Toronto Area for several decades. It was originally Kato Construction Equipment, owned by Bill Toth. Toth sold the business to the Mooney family, which operated it as Shotcrete Plus. In 2013, we were approached with the opportunity to buy the business and we took over the Toronto location.

CP: Have you celebrated any big milestones recently?

Marcia: We became a Putzmeister dealer in 2014. And then in 2017 we became the Ontario market boom pump distributor. Since 2013, the team has grown from two people to 12—with responsibilities increasing significantly. In October 2018, we moved to our new location in Mississauga, expanding our operation from 8,000 to 24,000 square feet.

CP: What’s your operating philosophy?

Eric: Serving customers well is very important to us. One way we do that is by keeping our warehouse well-stocked. When customers need parts, they know they can get them quickly. We’re here to take care of the concrete pumping industry. We know what they do isn’t easy, so we try to simplify what we can for them. And personal connections are also a big part of our business. Everyone on our staff knows our customers by name, and works hard to know them personally and treat everyone with respect.

Marcia: Our “official mission” is to be a leading supplier of pumping equipment, parts and associated repair in the Canadian industrial pumping market. We’re customer-focused. Having thoroughly researched the products and parts we offer, we confidently stand behind them and are prepared to advise our customers on what best suits their needs. Our experienced staff offers solutions to the concrete industry, be it through new or used equipment, parts, service, or simply providing advice when needed. We believe success comes when you really know, understand and provide what your customers value.

CP: You have a young family and are busy with work, too. How do you balance work and family life?

Eric: One thing that’s helped us is putting the right people in place at our business. We’ve worked hard to staff our businesses with people we can rely on, so they can have high levels of responsibility. Equipment sales, parts/rentals, service, shipping/receiving, accounting, and reception—the people on these teams are dedicated, fun to work with, and very knowledgeable. They make things much easier for Marcia and me, and we’re grateful for them.

Marcia: I grew up on a farm, where kids were very involved from a pretty young age. I think we’re following a similar model where our kids are also involved, but instead of tractors it’s concrete pumps. Also, in my past “corporate” life, I tried to keep my work and personal lives separate. But it’s not that way anymore. Our kids know the business, and they know our employees well. The shops are like their second home. It’s not unusual for Eric to take the boys back in after hours, and they like being hands-on working beside him. Aidan asked for wrenches and screwdrivers this year for Christmas. (I think he’s taken enough slack for misplacing Eric’s tools to know this is a better plan).

Eric: Another way we find balance is with a monthly family meeting. We talk about everything coming up that month, including when Marcia and I will be away. The kids get to share things on their minds, like what they want for birthdays or Christmas, or ways they can earn money for things on their wish lists. They like to feel included, and it helps us stay united even though we’re all busy. I think they’re all interested in working for the business one day, but we’ve already set some requirements, including a post-secondary degree or diploma and one job outside the family business.

CP: How long have you been a member of ACPA?

Eric: We’ve been members of ACPA since 2000. I’ve served on the Board of Directors since 2014 and I’m currently a Distributor Director.

Marcia: We take membership seriously and are committed to participating in the industry. We attend board meetings and aim to be active on the ACPA board and in committees; it’s valuable work and we’re glad to support it.

CP: How do you find time for ACPA, on top of raising a family and running your business?

Eric: Getting involved with ACPA and stepping up my involvement with a board position was a bit of a leap of faith. And then I realized how much value outside of the meeting that we get from being involved—the rewards are worth it. The association meetings are a time for us to be strategic about the industry and our business, but they are also a time for us to kick back and have a lot of fun with friends that we have made who understand our life better than most. Many people bring their spouses—as couples we have a blast—and we make a mini-vacation out of it every time.

CP: Why is ACPA important enough to leave your kids behind for a few days?

Eric: As much as we miss the kids, it’s a bit of a getaway until they’re old enough to come with us. We’ve made connections with people all over the continent that we otherwise would never have met.

Marcia: The meetings are really motivating. We get to rub shoulders with people who do the same things we do. Eric: The benefits are so great—what we learn, who we get to know, how much influence we’ve had and how much fun we have. The reality is, being involved in ACPA is something we can’t afford to miss.

CP: What benefits have you experienced from ACPA membership?

Marcia: We’ve found a lot of benefits from ACPA membership, such as the operator certification program and safety resources. ACPA cares a lot about making sure operators and pumping companies have what they need to succeed. We hosted our first ACPA safety seminar at CanCrete last January and had around 100 pump operators participate. Our customers thought it was great and wanted to know when we’d be doing it again. That gave the Toronto market a glimpse into what they’ll experience as ACPA members.

Eric: Networking has also been a great benefit for us. The industry is relatively tight-knit, and we know each other from coast to coast. Building relationships in the pumping industry has allowed us to see what others have done to be successful in their business. If you ever need something, need to sell something or are looking for something, if you can’t find it at an ACPA meeting, it doesn’t exist.

CP: What does ACPA offer the next generation of concrete pump businesses?

Eric: It’s important for the next generation to realize that everyone’s got a voice at ACPA. They can show up with an opinion that will be heard. And if you really want to make a difference or initiate change, come to the board meetings. Most of the people at our board meetings aren’t members of the board, but people who come so they can participate.

Marcia: The CPAC initiative is proof of the voice we’ve had through ACPA. We’re creating the Canadian chapter because of just a few Canucks speaking out to a real need. Working with Daryl Dika and Cameron Currah of the original CPAC has been a pleasure; we’re looking forward to Canadian-specific committees discussing and addressing our market strengths and challenges both provincially and federally. The time is now for more Canadians to take the leap of faith and realize why it’s worth it. Come on folks—sign up!

CP: What’s the value of ACPA as a Canadian member?

Eric: Having the backing of an association with the experience to make things happen is invaluable to concrete pumpers in Canada. Political advocacy is important for all of us. ACPA gets things done, from the Hours of Service and Fuel Tax legislation, to advancing the standards of the concrete pumping industry as a whole. Now, we’ll have a united voice and the structure in place to advance the pumping industry in Canada. We can learn from each other and work together toward common goals.

Marcia: We’re also excited about seeing Canadians take advantage of ACPA training and other educational opportunities more than they do now. There’s a need for it in Ontario and across the country, and ACPA has the framework and programs established.

Eric: We’re looking forward to a prosperous 2019 in Canadian concrete pumping and are hopeful that with increased Canadian membership and activity on committees, the CPAC will take on a productive and successful inaugural year with ACPA.