Quality Materials Testing

Canadian Construction Materials Engineering & Testing Ltd. (CCMET)

Back when he started the business in 1987, entrepreneur and President Harry Watson was a seasoned materials tester who had worked for major companies in such locations as Canada, Indonesia, UK and Australia. Moving to Canada, Mr. Watson recognized the many opportunities for materials testing, and within a few short years Metro Testing Laboratories Ltd. was created. Initially serving just the Metro Vancouver area and focusing predominantly on concrete testing, demand from clients soon necessitated the testing of soils, asphalt and many other materials, and the company broadened its offerings as well as its geographic reach.

“As time progressed and opportunities grew, we were asked to do services outside that area, in places like Whistler, Squamish, and Abbotsford,” says Marc Varty, Business Development and Marketing Director. As the business grew and with Mr. Watson’s foresight and customer demand, other branches of the company were created, such as Valley Testing Services (VTS) and Metro Testing Surrey. With much of the business taking place in remote locations, Mr. Watson pioneered the use of mobile testing labs. Hooked to the back of a truck, these mobile labs – staffed by highly trained technicians – are able to access distant locations such as quarries, hydro projects (transmission, water and wind power) MoTI (Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure) projects, and mining operations and carry out all materials testing on-site. Once their work is done, the mobile lab is packed up and relocated to another location, where crews can be out in the field for anywhere from three to six months during the peak summer demand.

With about 12 mobile labs and extensive testing facilities, the company, formally known as Metro Testing Laboratories Ltd. (Metro Group), recently rebranded itself as Canadian Construction Materials Engineering & Testing Ltd. (CCMET). The name change to CCMET better serves the company and its wide range of materials testing, engineering, geotechnical and environmental services, branch locations, and expanding industry sectors. “Our new identity amplifies our clients’ expectations, while moving forward to promote the diversity of our services across Canada,” states CCMET of the name change, which does not affect any of the 14 companies (and its 17 locations) within the CCMET Group. For the group consisting of; Metro Testing Laboratories Ltd, (Burnaby, Surrey and Whistler), Okanagan Material Testing & Engineering Services Ltd (Kelowna & Salmon Arm) Alberta Materials Testing & Engineering Ltd. (Calgary and Edmonton), Metro Concrete Restoration Ltd., Northern Geo Testing & Engineering Ltd. Fort St John & Dawson Creek), Valley Testing Services Ltd., Goal Engineering Ltd (Victoria) , TRI Environmental Consulting Ltd , Baskin Associates Technical Services Ltd, Midland Geotechnical Ltd (Red Deer, AB) or Western Geotechnical Consultants Ltd (Surrey and Sechelt), it’s all business as usual.

Diverse Range of Services

Expanding its testing services base over the years, CCMET today is the parent company of 14 enterprises. Bringing together a wealth of professional disciplines and expertise, CCMET’s skill set includes professional engineers, technicians, technologists, and administrators. Able to serve a very large number of sectors throughout Western Canada, the United States and internationally, the team at CCMET regularly takes on projects for clients involved in transportation, infrastructure, hydro and transmission, oil and gas, commercial and residential developments, First Nations communities, mining, and at the municipal, provincial, and federal government levels. Highly proficient in materials testing, CCMET is engaged in geotechnical, environmental sustainability, and materials engineering, along with total quality management (TQM) and concrete restoration.

Providing a wide range of services, it was felt that the name change was necessary as the British Columbia-based business is expanding its operations across Western Canada, and no longer specifically serves only the lower mainland. To prevent confusion among its many clients, the names of its 14 branches have remained the same, such as Okanagan Materials Testing and Engineering Ltd., which is active in the Kootenays, and Valley Testing Services Ltd., which works in the Fraser Valley.

“Because we are one big family company,” explains Mr. Varty, “we like to keep things very much family oriented, so when we choose a branch name we try ensure there is a local aspect, with local names and local people for staff. It’s important for us that our clients feel like part of their community by supporting local businesses which delivers everything a larger conglomerate has to offer.” While remaining independent companies, from a legal perspective, the branches of CCMET work together to best serve the needs of all customers requiring materials testing services. Clients deal with their local branch, and in turn that branch has access to a wealth of engineers, geotechnical professionals, environmental experts, and others within the group’s resources. In this way, branches and customers alike benefit. Without having experts at each individual branch – but enabling access to professionals through the group – overhead costs are considerably lower, while a wide range of professional services are maintained.

With a contingent of materials engineers, environmental specialists, and geotechnical engineers, experts can be brought on board as needed to meet project requirements. “This way, we can maintain low costs, but are still providing the services required that these bigger conglomerates and bigger organizations offer.” From the company’s inception to today, it remains committed to all customers and staff, and remains 100 percent employee-owned. Unlike large public corporations, employee ownership results in all staff having the drive and determination to make CCMET a success today and long into the future. “That’s part of the draw when we hire people,” comments Mr. Varty. “We are not looking at the worker mentality, but we’re looking at the owner mentality. When you offer people the opportunity to buy into the company, there’s a certain amount of pride that comes with it, and they have a vested interest in the company, and that’s the advantage that we have.”

Staff members hail from not only Canada but around the world. Mr. Varty has been with the business for about a decade, and originally gained his experience in South Africa. Others come from Russia, the Philippines, Ireland, and numerous other nations. “That is the other unique side of the company,” he says. “Because we’re so mixed, we get to know other people’s cultures, and are very flexible and understanding. This gives us an advantage in the workplace, since we can very much adapt to what the client’s needs are.”

A great believer that much of its success comes from its people, CCMET remains committed to creating a workplace which is diverse, safe, secure, and enjoyable. Seeking employees with a family-oriented, can-do attitude, the company values customer service, competency founded on experience, integrity, initiative, being a team player, and upholding the reputation of the organization.

“We are predominantly staffed by technicians while still having many engineers on board,” comments Mr. Varty. “These technicians are the guys who actually go out and do the majority of the work, and make us proud. Within our staffing be it; Techs, Engs, Admin, Accounting, BD and Mkt, it is important to have the right calibre of people out there to represent the company.” During the summer months, the company’s staff numbers rise as they take on students from universities and college co-op programs, who work as technicians under the guidance of engineers.

Taking on a range of testing projects on retaining walls, airports, and harbour projects across Canada and in locations such as Hawaii, the Bahamas, and Bermuda, CCMET has teamed up with large construction companies and hired local workers, so they can leave a ‘skill set’ behind when the testing work is completed. In Canada, the company recently teamed up with ABORCON Training & Materials Testing Ltd. First Nations-owned, ABORCON is now working in a limited partnership agreement with CCMET to provide Aboriginal people with a training-to-employment program. The goal is ongoing training, starting with construction materials testing, and working toward development of skill sets in areas such as environmental, geotechnical, and total quality management. Recognizing the growing need for construction consultancy in a number of industry sectors across British Columbia, the goal is to enable Aboriginal people to become an integral part of the construction consultancy sector.

“The training curriculum is in place, and it is just a matter of fine-tuning the nuts and bolts,” shares Mr. Varty. “The company continuously hires people and trains them, and as we continue to grow, we noticed that there is a lot of work for the First Nations.”

Strength in Services

CCMET’s 14 companies are unique, yet offer services to meet the needs of all clients across Canada and beyond. Holding a wide range of certifications, including testing laboratories certified by the Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories (CCIL), the company is dedicated to ongoing education and ensuring all laboratory procedures and requirements are continually updated.

With facilities that conform to the Canadian Standards for Certified Concrete Testing Laboratories (CSA A283 Category II + Additional tests), CCMET’s concrete testing staff are certified by the CCIL as required, and the American Concrete Institute (ACI). Holding memberships with a number of industry organizations, CCMET provides clients with; materials testing, materials engineering including preconstruction surveys, load testing and ratings, total quality management addressing the environment, safety and traffic, geotechnical engineering ranging from subsurface soil and groundwater identification and classification to retaining walls and engineered slopes, environmental engineering such as compliance audits, land management agreements, sustainability and hazardous materials management, a range of concrete restoration including project evaluation, laboratory services and repair services, and much more.

On a wide range of projects, CCMET has worked on the South Fraser Perimeter Road from Delta to Langley in B.C., mixed-use developments such as The Solo District Development Project in North Burnaby, the Peace River Potable Water Feasibility Project, the Mt. Milligan Copper and Gold Mine, projects for the Louis Bull Tribe, and others including the Edmonton International Airport, Telus Gardens, Trump Tower (Vancouver), and the Forrest Kerr Hydro Electric Project.

No matter the scope or scale of a project, CCMET – which recently won an award from Business in Vancouver magazine as one of the Top 100 companies in British Columbia – continues to remain professional, approachable, and respectful of all its staff and clients, a tradition based on the principles set forth by company founder Harry Watson. In cases where the company is asked to do testing outside its realm, it helps customers in any way it can. “We like to be known as the company who might not necessarily do the work, but we will find out who can do it for you,” says Mr. Varty. “It is then up to the client how to proceed; we can step away or facilitate and coordinate. We value our clients and strive to meet all their needs and ‘get the job done’; CCMET is a “one stop shop.” We sell time, and we sell service. We are a company that looks after our clients, because without them, we might as well go home now.”

July 16, 2018, 6:45 AM EDT

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