At Last, Buildings Built to Last
Concrete is a building material with staying power, and so too are the Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) offered by Fastform ICF, the most experienced ICF distributor in Ontario. The Fastform team brings unmatched service and support to an already extraordinary product.
Fastform ICF is family owned and operated and has been in the concrete business since the 1980s. In 1994, Archie Duiker, the company’s founder, shifted focus from conventional concrete forming to ICF, one of the first companies in the province to make this leap forward.
The intention was to serve residential, commercial and industrial projects, from small insulated foundations to full scale homes and other larger projects.
As General Manager Nick Stam explains, “Archie was looking for a competitive edge in a competitive market, a low-barrier-to-entry market in terms of concrete forming. So putting forward the ICF as an option was something different that he could offer.”
A competitive edge
By promising architects and engineers design flexibility and giving builders and developers the advantage of safe, reliable and sustainable products with better performance ratings and longer-term homeowner satisfaction, Fastform set itself on an upward trajectory in more ways than one. ICF technology not only offered market growth; it also offered the ability to grow structures vertically.
According to Stam, “Archie was just doing the foundations, but by offering ICF, it gave him the opportunity to build above ground as well,” and it gave Fastform access to larger projects. “ICF were traditionally used for foundations, but we’re seeing more and more houses going to one, two, three storeys, and more and more high-rise buildings, so the sky is the limit.”
When it comes to ICF, Fastform specializes in Nudura products, which feature patented technology that offers ease and speed of installation. Its smart design ensures the highest level of strength and performance, as well as lower maintenance costs. This is particularly true of the Nudura ICF Series, a one-size-fits-all solution.
Fastform offers what it believes are the best ICF products available in the market, and in turn, it offers the best possible service to complement that performance. This has been the reason for its longevity and growth in the market.
From Stam’s perspective, “We think the main reason for our growth is our customer service, just being focused on one product,” which allows Fastform to deliver unmatched expertise in doing so.
Just better building
Nudura features a hinged interlocking system which improves efficiency, reduces the need for labour and makes for all around better building performance. However, the advantages of these ICF products do not stop there.
“It allows you to transport forty percent more material per truckload, which also allows much more storage on site, and they have the largest block in the market. Every time you put down a block, you put down more than twice the square footage of competing blocks,” says Stam of Nudura’s advantages.
Eric Duiker, owner of Fastform and son of the company’s founder Archie, has only praise for the Nudura design: “The Nudura block was reversible, foldable and bigger. Those were their three things.” Then, of course, there are the established advantages of concrete which include a long lifecycle and the ability to outlast any other building material.
“Wood rots and buildings don’t last,” he continues. “Concrete lasts a long time, but in our Canadian climate it is still limited to a hundred years or less because of freezing and thawing. When you take concrete and steel, and you insulate it, it will outlast any normal building method that we’ve known before and there’s a lot of advantage to that – having buildings that you don’t have to worry about. In fifty or eighty years they’re still as good as when you built them.”
Nudura products offer a better R-value and thermal performance than steel and wood buildings and they are designed to interlock seamlessly to create smooth interior and exterior surfaces. The design reduces the labour required on a project and contributes to LEED certification on projects. In fact, Nudura and Fastform have been a part of several high-performance, award-winning projects.
The Nudura One series is used on projects requiring a higher fire rating or greater technical performance, while the XR35 offering provides a much higher R-value versus other types of insulated concrete forms.
In its company literature, Fastform says, “Nudura XR35 products provide the optimal solution for homeowners, builders, developers, and architects who are looking to create better net-zero buildings that offer higher thermal performance and overall energy efficiency.”
The right time
One of the greatest advantages for Fastform is the direction the market is taking. Lumber is expensive and adds significant costs to projects. ICF offers a more affordable solution that is designed with ease of installation and longevity in mind.
“Lumber prices have gone crazy,” Stam notes, “which is a huge opportunity for us in getting people to consider our product for the first time. I think, historically, we may have been a little more expensive than building in a traditional manner, but you get the benefits of ongoing reduced heating and cooling costs, air tightness. And now we’re even competing on upfront costs.”
Fastform believes so strongly in the Nudura product that Archie sat on a research and development committee for several years to provide specific feedback in the area of product development. A little over a decade later and that belief is stronger than ever.
Expanding on demand
Given the advantages of the Nudura products and Fastform’s service and expertise, demand for ICF continues to grow and so too does the company. Its Orangeville headquarters are being expanded and upgraded, utilizing ICF, of course, to demonstrate its outstanding performance.
In addition to its head office in Orangeville, and an established presence in Mississauga, Fastform has a new operation in Ayr, Ontario, which opened for pickups and deliveries in March of this year. The growth is strategic to ensure it can satisfy demand in its growing market.
Fastform is poised to take advantage of the current building boom in Southwestern Ontario where builders are starting to consider ICF for the very first time. The tri-cities region of Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, as well as the cottage market in Grand Bend and Kincardine, is driving new growth.
“We are looking to continue to grow in Southwestern Ontario, and the Golden Horseshoe; all the way from Lake Huron to Lake Erie, and all the way past London,” says Stam. This is a fairly ambitious growth target, but demand is growing and the company has the capacity to bring Nudura products to everyone who perceives the product’s outstanding contribution to modern construction.
Further to providing Nudura products, Fastform ensures their proper use through in-house training. It offers a one-day ICF training course that teaches the basic Nudura ICF installation skills to ensure that jobs are completed efficiently and that the true value of the product is being realized.
“We spend a lot of time educating new customers about our product and how to use it. We help with estimating of projects, we run the in-house training programs to teach how to install the product, so we offer a level of technical support that you can’t get from someone who isn’t focused on one item,” said Stam.
The training course is conducted by a certified Nudura installation specialist and an experienced ICF installer. Participants are required to complete and pass an open-book test with a grade of seventy percent or greater and in doing so they receive a certificate of completion. The participant is then subject to review on two projects by a local Nudura distributor to receive the trained installer card.
“Our new headquarters will have a large training centre,” explained Stam. “The training course is a big add-on that we offer, so I think having a dedicated space for that rather than cleaning out a warehouse or something is really going to add to the level of professionalism.”
Despite its strong focus on professionalism and the exceptional standard of service it offers, the team at Fastform is relatively small, especially considering its significant market impact. Like the Nudura products they believe in, the company has been built to last. This is evident in the entrepreneurial environment that has been created inside the company, in which self-starters and strong communicators thrive.
“If you have an idea, you should propose it, but then we’re probably going to ask you to go and do it at the same time. So really, anything that you want changed, let’s try it and let’s see what happens,” explains Duiker. He notes that if pilot projects are successful, they can quickly be rolled out across the various locations experiencing energetic growth.
Thanks to the winning strategy that has been adopted at Fastform, the company is on a strong upward trajectory – a performance, it’s fair to say, that is entirely related to the performance of its outstanding products.