Lightening the Load
4 Seasons Ties 2009
4 Seasons Ties 2009, established in 1976, is a third-generation, family-owned Canadian leading manufacturer of formwork products. With over forty years of experience, 4 Seasons Ties 2009 is dedicated to creating innovative products and solutions to help make form workers’ jobs a little easier.
4 Seasons Ties 2009 got its start when Jean-Guy Bergeron was having a hard time procuring formwork ties. “He remarked that the market couldn’t respond to the demand,” says Nicolas Crochetière, marketing technician for 4 Seasons Ties 2009 and grandson of Bergeron. “So, he bought his first machine and made his own ties,” he explains.
“He actually added a special ‘V’ shape on the ties that gives the concrete a better grip on the tie. It made it very popular,” says Crochetière. “That’s how he made a name for himself in the industry in the 1970s. He was also known for good customer service. So, over time, he got bigger and bigger, and he got more well-known, and eventually, he started to invest in creating other formwork products such as plywood panels, cages, and corners. He also made accessories and tools.”
Bergeron passed away last year, but under the ownership of his daughter, his son and his son-in-law as general manager, the company continues to grow. “Today, the company is still owned by the family,” says Crochetière. “It’s a family company, and we have approximately seventy employees. We have distributors throughout Canada, and we add some in the United States every year.”
The company, however, has not reached its full potential yet. 4 Seasons Ties 2009 has been working on an online campaign targeting potential customers in various regions of Western Canada, including Saskatoon and Regina. “We serve all of Canada, but we aren’t presently as well-known in certain provinces,” says Crochetière. “So, the goal of this campaign is to bring people onto our website so that they can get to know us a little better.”
The company is also dedicated to the well-being and productivity of form workers. “As a family business, we don’t have any straight lines to follow,” says Crochetière. “We do what we think is best for our customers and for the business’ future. We listen to every idea, suggestion, and thought. Anything that we think could help us make the form worker’s life easier, we’ll bring it on, and we’ll try to make something with it.”
4 Seasons Ties 2009’s greatest present-day challenge, however, is finding skilled workers for specialized jobs. “In our region of Quebec, it is common knowledge that there is a lack of workers in specialized jobs such as welding and electromechanical engineering,” says Crochetière. “Our short-term solution is to hire immigrant workers from Philippines; they will be here for about three years. But we also have mid-term and long-term solutions; it’s all about investing in automation and robots to fill in for the lack of workers, in a strategic way,” he says.
“Because of this lack of labour, if we could replace fifty to sixty percent of our workforce by robots or automation, it would be very helpful in keeping a good pace and maintaining productivity,” says Crochetière. “We may not have robots yet, but we do have some automation in our machinery and I would like to get more.”
4 Seasons Ties 2009 is very proud of its latest accomplishment: a lightweight panel. “It’s a new product that we have been working on for two-and-a-half years, and we really hope that it will be a hit and that it will change the market. It’s a very interesting product,” says Crochetière.
“When making a foundation, concrete is poured into the panels,” he explains. “But what makes this product different is that it is twenty percent lighter than a normal formwork panel. This reduces injuries and has the potential to increase the productivity of workers. On the job site with the panels, you can pull your cages in further, and the lightness of the product can be a competitive advantage. We are the only company that offers this exclusive product right now.”
4 Seasons Ties 2009’s motivation for coming up with this innovative product is its desire to make formwork easier. “Formwork is a very difficult field of work,” says Crochetière. “You have to manipulate a lot of heavyweight, tools, and materials, and people in this field tend to retire faster than others because it is tough on the body. They work about twelve hours every day with very heavy materials. Our goal is to facilitate their lives by reducing the weight that they have to carry every day.”
The company works to have the best customer service. “We have fast delivery,” says Crochetière. “We carry a large inventory. So, we are able to respond quickly when our customers need something, which is really important in this field because there are many last-minute opportunities. We also strive to build solid business relationships based on mutual trust,” he shares.
“And equally important is quality control,” says Crochetière. “We have many standards that are applied and respected, and so as to avoid any problems, we’ve doubled the rigor of our quality control in recent years.”
And it is that diligence that helps set 4 Seasons Ties 2009 apart from its competition. The company uses only raw materials of the highest quality, and, “ninety-nine percent of our products are Canadian,” says Crochetière. “We are very strict about the raw materials we use. If we receive materials that we believe are below our standards, we discuss with our suppliers and return the stuff. Offering a quality product is very important to us,” he says.
“Unfortunately, it’s becoming difficult to get such a high percentage of our raw materials from within Canada,” says Crochetière. “There are not many suppliers in Canada, so we may need to get out of our ninety-nine percent range a bit by also getting supplies from other countries in the future.”
As 4 Seasons Ties 2009 continues to grow its production capacity, it will continue finding innovative products and solutions for form workers, with the goal of lightening their workloads.