Passion for asphalt and learning benefits everyone
BURNCO’s business relationship with customers and vendors has served the company well since it was founded by J.F. Burns in Calgary in 1912. The early focus was as a concrete, sand and gravel operation.
As the business grew in the 1930s, the scope expanded to include portable crushers. Next came concrete haul trucks – a division of which still operates today.
A paving operation was started in the 1950s. “We were a bona fide paving contractor for three decades,” said Randy Cousins, Vice President of the Asphalt Division of BURNCO. That operation ran successfully, but BURNCO eventually sold the lay-down operation in order to narrow the company’s focus.
“We see ourselves as asphalt producers,” Cousins said. “We sell mix to customers – customers we previously competed with if we ran paving operations. That just didn’t work well for us.” The belief also is that the specialization allows all involved to excel. “We are a true supplier,” Cousins said. “We rely on a skilled group of independent contractors to search out the market and get the work. Our market consists of independent paving contractors who generally do not own their own asphalt plants. It’s a business that we’re pleased with and one that requires excellent equipment, long-term, permitted gravel resources and highly trained trade personnel.” BURNCO ran two batch plants in Calgary for years. Ten years ago, BURNCO took a new approach and bought a Gencor 400 ton-per-hour (tph) counterflow drum for one Calgary location. The counterflow replaced one of the batch plants. A second batch plant, with capabilities of 225 tph, stayed operational.
“We tied the counterflow in with the existing 10,000-pound batch plant,” Cousins said. “The drum gives you sheer volume – it’s just a monster. We switch on the fly up-top... a true workhorse.” The batch plant is primarily a supplemental operation, but it still sees plenty of work. “We use it less than the counterflow, but it still plays an important role during peak times or when we’re doing a specialty mix – for example, a mix for tennis courts. It gives us a little additional volume and a lot of flexibility,” Cousins said. “We do a wide variety of mixes. Our customers’ businesses have grown, so they have more varied requests, and we’re able to meet them – which helps us grow as well.” The customers also need the mix at all times of the day and night, and BURNCO is able to deliver whenever necessary.
If the company promises mix at a certain time, its customers can expect that promise to be kept. How can a company establish such a culture? “It starts at the top, with the leadership standing behind our products and services,” Cousins said. “Then it comes down to the people.” BURNCO has operational and equipment managers who are passionate about taking care of their customers. The managers are always looking for new ways to do business – for example, how to allow the company to utilize more RAP.
They also never stop learning. Many regularly attend Gencor training, where they have a chance to not only get some time in the classroom, but to talk to engineers and others involved in product development.
“It benefits everyone,” Cousins said. “Our guys have a chance to ask questions and learn from the experts, as well as maybe even have some input into the product development process. The Gencor engineers hear what the customers’ wants and needs are, which benefits them as well.” Those relationships continue when the classes are over. “Our guys and the Gencor people are always talking back and forth.”