Bruce and Marilyn Dika were visionaries. Despite living in Fort McMurray when the oil boom was approaching its zenith, they set their sites on Edmonton and on a business that could weather the ups and downs of a boom and bust economy. With the purchase of a $39K concrete pumping truck and a relocation to the capital city, the couple were ready to create their legacy.
The boom went bust in the early 80s leaving the Dikas with loans on equipment and a shortage of work.
Many companies don’t survive Alberta’s harsh boom and bust cycles, but the Dikas are not your average entrepreneurs. Rather than push the concrete pumping side of the business through when construction was at a standstill, they turned their fleet into logging trucks and tapped into a still-thriving sector of the economy. When oil made a comeback in 1987 and the building boom began anew, the pumps went back on trucks.
It is this grit, determination and resiliency that has grown A&B Concrete Pumping Ltd. into the largest concrete pumping company in Western Canada.
Having outgrown two other locations, A&B Concrete Pumping has recently moved into a new facility just outside of Edmonton in Acheson. The placement is no accident. Always the forward thinker, Bruce had bought land in Acheson when the company started to grow, knowing that the industrial park provided the perfect home base for quick access in and around the city.
“We are the biggest company of its kind in Western Canada, but we still maintain the core family values Bruce and Marilyn instilled from the start. Their priority was not just to make money and be successful, but for their employees to have a good living, a career and time for their families. Those values still persist,” says Jace Linman, president. Linman joined A&B Concrete Pumping in 2007 when the founders retired. Upon the 2007 retirement, The Dikas passed on the torch to their children, Lisa and Daryl Dika, and their new partner Hutchinson Acquisitions.
Linman is determined to retain the Dika’s legacy while cementing and growing A&B’s reputation across Canada.
We’ve had opportunities and have been approached to get into placing, finishing, cribbing, and Ready Mix supply, but as a group we have collectively decided that we are concrete pumping professionals,” confirms Linman. “That is what we are best at, and what we will stick to.”
He credits the company’s 40 years of growth to knowledge and experience, and also to a relentless drive to create the safest possible environment on each project.
“We pay attention to the details,” he says. “We want to be involved at the start of the project, not just show up and pump concrete. Being the concrete pumping professionals means we can suggest things that will save it time and money. We are known for being proactive, for our hands-on approach, and for caring about the success of the entire project. We tell our clients we will never be the cheapest, but we will save you thousands in terms of our efficiency, awareness, and methodology.”
“When it comes to safety, we have always been ahead of the game and have contributed to many of the industry’s standardized safety manuals,” Linman continues. “Officials from Occupational Health and Safety contact us when adding to their regulations. We were doing boom inspections long before that was an industry requirement. We are always at the forefront of safety.”
Their expertise, professionalism and safety has brought A&B Concrete Pumping to the sites of some of Edmonton’s most renowned projects.
“A&B did a lot of the pumping in ICE District and the entire Rogers Place apart from the rink. We did the pumping for downtown’s Stantec Tower and the Marriot hotel. To be approached by PCL and formally selected as the team they want on projects like these is good for our group and good for our operators,” says Linman.
A&B may be known for concrete pumping at major projects, including Commonwealth Stadium and a tricky 960 feet of a connection bridge on the Anthony Henday that required specific equipment and expertise, but Linman and the ownership team look inside their own walls for the source of their success.
“We would not be where we are today without our people,” Linman says. “We have a fantastic crew of young, energetic, motivated employees all looking to build on what Bruce and Marilyn started, and all eager to support the new partnership. I have the biggest respect and admiration for everyone’s skills and talent. Landing big projects is rewarding, but it’s the people that come together to create the projects.”
A&B Concrete Pumping is growing up with the city, quite literally. As high rise towers continue to dominate the Edmonton skyline, A&B is alongside, helping to make them happen.
“We’ve transitioned from just regular mobile pumps to specialized placing booms, and high-pressure units as well. We have smaller pumps for working inside tighter residential areas, larger pumps for commercial projects, and now pumps that can reach up towers. We cover all our client’s concrete pumping needs.”
Helping to physically build the city isn’t enough for the agile company. They help build the community too. A&B Concrete Pumping is heavily involved in several charities, including Habitat for Humanity, Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, and Edmonton Down Syndrome Society.
The company also continues to be innovative, recently winning a national award for concrete recycling. Linman explains, “When you run a pump, you wash out on site and can leave a mess of concrete, which causes issues for removal and the potential of contamination in the drainage system. We came up with a better way and created a large poly bag to contain the washout material. We pick it up, haul it away, crush it, recycle it and sell it.”
Today A&B Concrete is operating under the REACH Construction Services Group umbrella; the parent company includes Combined Concrete Pumping, P-Ban Concrete Pumping, All Out Concrete Pumping, Recocon Inc. and YG Concrete. A&B, however, remains the foundation and largest operation in in the group.
“With 53 concrete pumps across Western Canada, we are going to continue to grow,” smiles Linman. “We have the most updated equipment in the industry and are ready to provide service for many more years to come. We are not a subcontractor, we are your partner.”
Linman thanks the Dikas for their years of hard work and tenacity to launch A&B Concrete, and continually grow the brand despite Alberta’s ups and downs. He also extends thanks to the ownership group and controlling shareholders, saying, “When they came on, we were just in Edmonton and Fort McMurray. They brought a different level of business knowledge and experience that allowed us to move forward and ultimately grow in other areas.” The team further thanks their clients and suppliers, and everyone that had a hand in making the company the success it is today.
What comes next?
“We are expanding into British Columbia and if things work well, we will move across the border into the United States. We are committed to another 20 years of more acquisitions, expanding into new markets, growing our skillset and entrenching our brand.”
Learn more about A&B Concrete Pumping online at www.abconcretepumping.com and @abconcretepump on Twitter.