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Sanderson Concrete still going strong after 78 years

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by Brian Martin last update:Oct 29, 2007

After you’ve been doing something for 78 years, chances are you are pretty good at it. That’s the situation Sanderson Concrete is in. The pioneer Fraser Valley firm was launched in 1929.
An employee of Sanderson Concrete pours concrete from the hopper into a form on a vibrating table.
An employee of Sanderson Concrete pours concrete from the hopper into a form on a vibrating table.

Small Business

After you’ve been doing something for 78 years, chances are you are pretty good at it. That’s the situation Sanderson Concrete is in. The pioneer Fraser Valley firm was launched in 1929.

In 1988 it was purchased by Svend Arntorp who arrived in Canada from his native Denmark in 1966. In recent years his son Jan Arntorp bought it and is now owner and manager.

In years gone by, pure decorative concrete items were the company’s bread and butter. They include things such as concrete planters, bowls, tables and benches.

Primarily they are sold to the municipal and institutional sector. Some of their concrete picnic tables and benches have been shipped as far away as Florida.

However, American competitors have been known to supply local markets in British Columbia.

It all depends, said Arntorp, on the look people are after.

Concrete items have advantages over wood and steel. For one thing they don’t rust and they don’t rot. Their big advantage, however, is also their big disadvantage. They are awfully heavy. On one hand this can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to delivery. On the other hand, they don’t get stolen and are largely vandal proof.

Those types of decorative items are still important but not as large a part of the business as they used to be. The emphasis now is more on architectural concrete.

You can find samples of Sanderson’s work on such well-known local projects as Douglas College in New Westminster and the new Life Sciences Building at the University of British Columbia. The Life Sciences Building is the largest laboratory building in Canada and Sanderson supplied window ledges, window lintels and stair treads.

Another example is the award-winning West Chevron serving the International Terminal at Vancouver International Airport.

Sanderson supplied a lot of the concrete edging around areas such as the decorative stream that flows through the Chevron.

They’re in the business of supplying architectural panels as well. Decorative gate posts and plaques are also big on their list. Sanderson’s market is very closely split between the residential and the institutional, commercial and industrial worlds. When it comes to residential it is most likely to be large condominium projects rather than an individual homeowner they will be serving. For example, Parklane Homes is among Sanderson’s customers.

Parklane is one of the largest residential developers in British Columbia. They have built almost 6,000 homes since 1980.

Sanderson’s specialty is smaller jobs. They don’t bother with huge mega projects such as the SkyTrain or major bridges for example.

The sheer size of those projects rules them out as prospects. They leave those to the industry giants such as ConForce.

The company specialty, said Arntorp, is service.

“Price is not much of an issue,” he said. “We just started as a relatively small business and grew. The biggest reason for our success is that people know they can come to us and get what they need when they need it.”

Sanderson Concrete has 30 employees at its facility near the Pattullo Bridge in Surrey.

They are currently operating one batch plant at their site and hope to have a second up and running very early in the New Year.

last update:Oct 29, 2007

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