The Sound of Quality Cladding

Sound Solutions Inc.

Modern design and fashionable materials can result in spaces with noisy acoustics where voices echo. Sound Solutions, Inc. collaborates with architects to render buildings every bit as comfortable sound-wise as they are from a design perspective. Across North America, Sound Solutions, Inc. helps create stunning architectural design elements from its large range of quality ceiling solutions, as well as interior and exterior wall treatments.

As one of Canada’s greatest companies in the field of supplying architectural products, Sound Solutions, Inc. focuses on form, function, aesthetics, and safety. With its 19,000-square-foot facility and a nearly endless supply of modern solutions, the company is the perfect partner to make bold new designs a reality. This versatile firm is a manufacturers’ representative, distributor, and fabricator.

“We sit on many sides of the table, which gives us a pretty unique perspective on understanding the challenges facing customers, suppliers, and contractors because we are often in each of their positions,” says Ed Makarchuck, Principal.

This Brampton, Ontario-based company is the sole North American representative of Austrian manufacturer Rieder’s extruded concrete exterior cladding. The product is the company’s largest line and is especially favoured for being nearly entirely free of respirable crystalline silica, or fine quartz powder, making it much safer to handle without having to wear protective gear.

“I consider Rieder to be the market leaders in their product category. It was one of the first to really find a way to create thin architectural concrete panels. Architects can now cover buildings with concrete in a much more efficient way, as they don’t have to pour full concrete slabs anymore,” says Ed.

It is not only the much-reduced volume and strength of these thin concrete panels that are innovative but also the textures and other design elements available that allow architects to apply the product in the most beautiful designs imaginable.

The company is trusted for using only reputable suppliers of quality and functional products. Its service does not end at delivery; Sound Solutions provides clients with all the information it can to support architects during the design phase, as well as the product’s performance in the field and ensures that there is always a professional at hand to assist.

When it comes to projects beyond Ontario’s borders, Sound Solutions, Inc. employs and trains independent sales representatives to provide the same quality service wherever they might be. In total, there are seventeen sales agencies in the U.S.A. and three in Canada, bringing its sales agents in the North American market to around forty-five.

Logistics form a big part of the company’s operation. Once its products are specified by an architect involved in a particular project, Sound Solutions, Inc. delivers to the installation contractors or local distributors. It has developed a solid knowledge of the intricacies of importing and on-time site delivery, which means that clients are always guaranteed of receiving products as soon as possible.

“Our overall goal is to make the process of specifying, estimating, shipping, and installing our products as easy as possible for all the parties involved. Ultimately, we want the architect, the owner, and the contractor satisfied with the final product of every installation,” Ed adds.

Thanks to its diverse offerings, the company’s customers range from cladding contractors that favour its exterior products to specialty distributors. There are also several large acoustic and dry-wall subcontractors in Ontario.

To smooth distribution, the company has three main divisions. The first is its interior finishes division that serves the Canadian market with around eight product lines. Its second division focuses on the sole distributor rights and representation of exterior cladding products to the entire Canadian market. This includes its biggest line, Rieder’s extruded concrete panels. The third division takes care of the Rieder product line for the entire United States market.

Its own product range, Avanti, features acoustic wall and ceiling panels that reduce noise within a specific area, as well as acoustic ceiling clouds that fulfill the same function. While the operation may be comparatively small, focusing on mid-size projects in its local market, it is committed to quality. Its size allows the company to be nimble with reduced lead times and the opportunity to work much more closely with clients as opposed to larger manufacturers.

“We certainly try to stay current in terms of the improvement of the raw materials that we use. We try to use more recycled content in the fibreglass board that is the main component of the product. We’re always looking for ways to improve through our suppliers,” says Ed. And, while it certainly has competitors, the company prides itself on being one of the most diverse in what it offers.

The company has followed an interesting road. It started as a manufacturers’ representative for sound-absorbing panels around fifty years ago. It was founded when Tom Richardson and Frank Fox discovered that the original Tectum distributor was going out of business. The two spotted an opportunity, flew to America and secured the distribution rights for Ontario and Eastern Canada. With a loan and a whole load of sales talk, the two partners established such a huge market throughout the area’s school system that Sound Solutions, Inc. is still synonymous with the product today.

“Their first employee, John LaCroix, put his heart and soul into the company. John worked really hard and retired in 2000. We are lucky enough to have his son working for us as a warehouse supervisor since 1997,” says Ed. John sadly passed away in 2016, and the company decided to honour his memory by creating a bursary for any employee’s child who needs financial assistance when attending secondary school. So far, four children have already benefitted from the initiative.

Ed’s connection with the company also runs deep. His parents were close university friends of fellow founder Tom Richardson and his wife Lynda. There has been a strong bond with the company throughout his life, and two of his sisters also worked for the company during their university years. Ed officially started out in the company in 1996.

“Tom was a great mentor, and I learned a tremendous amount from him over the years,” he says. Ed worked his way up starting at the order desk and was eventually approached to purchase the firm in 2002.

In 2003, he sold fifty percent of the company to Andrew Rogers. “I was lucky in this too. Andrew is an outstanding salesman and a great business partner. His efforts have really allowed our company to grow at a rate I never would have predicted when he started,” says Ed. Andrew was instrumental in bringing exterior cladding products to the company, and they have never looked back since.

The business revolves around quality and people and its twenty-nine staff members are always ready to assist. As a result, the company is no stranger to acknowledgment. It won the Ceilings & Interior Systems Construction Association’s (CISCA) Independent Manufacturers’ Representative Gold Award for its part in Gordon, Inc.’s job of supplying over 50,000 square feet of metal ceilings for the Highway 407, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) subway station in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada.

The company has a multitude of projects behind it. Some of these include exterior work using Prodema on the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Then there was the treatment of the University of California, Berkley’s Energy Biosciences Building, formerly known as the Helios Building, with Rieder’s concrete skin. It also used Prodema’s Prodex on the Hotel Le Germain in Calgary, Canada. Its products are featured on the York House School and on the Mountain Equipment head office, both in Vancouver, Canada.

Moving ahead, Ed expects a rise in startup companies, as opportunity follows in the wake of big-deal acquisitions throughout North America. “It is a cycle that’s been repeated many times, but it is happening now on a level that we haven’t seen in the past twenty to thirty years. In a way, this is good, as new companies come along and develop new, hopefully better products using more sustainable methods. We’re looking forward to seeing that,” he says.

Sound Solutions, Inc. is also looking forward to expanding its service to architects as well as its sales network in the coming years. With so much to look forward to, one cannot help but be excited for the prospects of this modern firm.

Bespoke Backyards

Years ago, backyard beautification usually meant planting some flowers, adding a couple of shrubs, and laying down a few patio stones to create a small deck. Outdoor furniture – if you could truly call it ‘furniture’ – usually comprised a picnic table and aluminum lawn chairs with uncomfortable, sticky plastic mesh seats and backs. Barbecuing was still somewhat exotic, and most outdoor grillers used folding barbecues or tiny rectangular hibachis. Unless among the wealthy, in-ground pools were few, with above-ground corrugated steel or plastic versions more likely.

July 22, 2019, 5:41 PM EDT