Success through Hard Work and Determination

Bruce Peninsula Stone

Mr. Shouldice owns two quarries, leases and operates two more quarry locations and operates a retail store. “I worked hard and someone noticed,” he explains of his early success. “That’s how it all started.” He worked his way up through the business the old fashioned way – through hard work and determination, eventually earning the opportunity to take over the reins.

During the long road to the top and since becoming President of Bruce Peninsula Stone Ltd., Eric Shouldice has grown the company to become a leading dolomitic limestone provider and fabricator. The success of the company, located on Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula, has also been bolstered by the rising popularity of the eramosa marble found within its quarries. “This area is famous all around the world for eramosa marble,” Mr. Shouldice reports. “It is the big thing right now.”

The colours and textures of this special stone are unique to the region and offer consumers a sought-after combination of warm earth tones and horizontal veining. “It has a beautiful flurry pattern,” Mr. Shouldice adds. The company is also known for its thermal finishes, in which a flame is used to create the desired texture. “We have the perfect layers for flaming,” Mr. Shouldice explains. These finished products have a wide variety of uses, from landscaping to home building.

The popularity of the region’s stones has certainly helped Mr. Shouldice’s business ventures succeed, but with over a dozen competing quarries in the area, he has to count on more than his quarries’ marble to keep the business going. A major reason why the company has stayed ahead, he insists, is because he has maintained the same work ethic that first earned him a place at the top. Part of this means staying very hands-on to ensure that everything continues to run smoothly.

To this end, Mr. Shouldice still works onsite every day. “I was up at a quarry already working at 5:30 this morning running an excavator,” he points out. “I will get back to the office at seven, eight o’clock at night to take care of the paperwork. I’ll put in eighty, ninety hours a week.” Mr. Shouldice does hire site supervisors, but he likes to maintain control of the day to day operations personally. “I organize everything,” he explains. “That’s how I do it.”

In fact, the entire Shouldice family works hard to ensure the company’s success. Joanne Shouldice, Mr. Shouldice’s wife and a co-owner of the business, takes care of the administration side of things. “She too puts a lot of effort in,” Mr. Shouldice points out. Even the kids spend time onsite after school and on weekends, as their parents groom them to eventually take over the company. The couple expects staff to maintain the family’s strong work ethic as well. “I do push my guys hard, but I am fair to them,” Mr. Shouldice says.

A commitment to staff is foundationally important to Bruce Peninsula Stone Ltd., and the company enjoys a local reputation as an excellent employer for which to work. A key part of supporting the staff, Mr. Shouldice says, is providing a safe workplace environment. Quarries can be notoriously dangerous, but Bruce Peninsula Stone is committed to maintaining a top notch safety record. “I am the only quarry in this area – and there are a lot of quarries around here – that has passed a Workwell audit, which is a safety audit through WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board),” Mr. Shouldice reports. “I am very proud of that because I have put a lot of time and money into safety and I care about the people that are on my property working.”

Bruce Peninsula Stone Ltd. also cares about the wider community. The company’s active support for the surrounding area is particularly important because the region boasts crippling poverty rates. The company buys local products from local suppliers whenever possible. The team also gives away product to a variety of initiatives; for example, they recently donated stone to support a beautification project in the nearby town of Lion’s Head as well as to help build a new daycare center. The company also regularly supports local sports teams and events, from building baseball diamonds and supplying portable washrooms for young athletes, to funding climbing walls for children to enjoy.

The company also works hard to stay on top of industry trends and technological advancements. “I keep evolving my business to stay ahead of my competition,” Mr. Shouldice explains. This means developing new products, pushing new ideas, and constantly working to streamline the business and increase production. Increased efficiency is particularly important in the quarry business. “The quicker I can get orders out, the quicker I get the sale. People will phone two or three quarries in this area all looking for the same product, because we all provide it – but if I can say that I can have it in two weeks, and the other guys say one month, then I will get the sale.”

Automation technology is one of the most important new industry advances that Mr. Shouldice has embraced. “Automation is the big thing,” he reports. “I am constantly thinking of ways of automating.” The technology has already increased production substantially. “All the saws are computerized. At night, when the guys are done at the quarry, the saws run on their own. No one even has to be around. You just program it for what you want done and it does it.”

Automation also lightens the load for the employees. “Automation is making the job easier, making my guys happy,” he points out, and the increased efficiency is also reflected in employee paycheques. “Because automation makes production go up, I can pay the crew better.” It also brings in the revenue needed for extra perks, like a Christmas bonus last year that give each staff member a week and a half paid time off. These incentives also benefit the company, Mr. Shouldice adds, so everyone involved is a winner. “A happy worker is a productive worker,” he explains, “and we are only as good as our guys!’

Common belief holds that quarrying is damaging to the environment but Bruce Peninsula Stone Ltd. wants to change this perception. “Quarrying is actually one of Earth’s eco-friendly practices in the manufacturing industry,” the company’s website states. “[It] is perhaps one of the most misunderstood operations.” Most importantly, Mr. Shouldice points out, quarrying supplies a natural product, and natural products do not require environmentally damaging manufacturing processes.

“The big thing is that the footprint for my products is far less than for concrete products,” he says. Unlike manufactured materials, stone is simply extracted from the ground, finished, and passed on to the consumer. “Although natural stone is not a renewable resource, natural stone fits the green profile due to its everlasting life-cycle, energy efficiencies, reusable properties, low waste or by-product, and low emissions in the extraction and fabrication process.”

Furthermore, Bruce Peninsula Stone Ltd. works hard to reduce the footprint that the extraction and finishing processes do create. Most of the company’s machines boast advanced engine designs that meet or exceed emission requirements, and the team also uses a special fuel conditioner to reduce emissions even further. In addition, the company recycles all of its used oil and coolants. The result is “an eco-friendly alternative to manmade materials, in both the extraction and fabrication process.”

After working his way up to the top, Mr. Shouldice maintains a clear vision of where he wants to steer the company in the future. For the most part, he will continue the policies enacting that have brought him success thus far. “I want to keep taking the business in the same direction,” he says. “I want to keep automating. I want to keep my guys happy and make the job as easy as I can. I want to keep doing good for the community and selling good product.”

With straightforward, altruistic business goals like these, Bruce Peninsula Stone Ltd.’s phenomenal success is sure to continue – as will the benefit to the wider community.

March 20, 2018, 9:54 AM EDT

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