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What is the secret to establishing a framework in steel fabrication that leads to three decades of success and growth in the temperamental and rapidly changing steel construction industry? Burnco Manufacturing, founded over 30 years ago in Concord, Ontario, is a renowned name in the construction industry, specializing in structural steel fabrication. With a commitment to quality and innovation, Burnco has expanded its operations to become the largest steel bridge fabricator in Ontario. Burnco initially focused on smaller building projects before venturing into industrial work. One notable early project was constructing facilities for Toyota manufacturing in Southern Ontario during the early to late 2000s, marking its entry into large-scale industrial projects.

Burnco’s portfolio grew to include diverse projects across Canada, including a significant $70 million storage facility for potash in Saskatchewan. This project, completed for Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, demonstrated Burnco’s ability to handle complex industrial projects with precision and expertise. While Burnco is based in Ontario, it has successfully completed projects in various provinces across Canada, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and New Brunswick. They are currently negotiating their first project in British Columbia, further expanding their geographic reach.

Burnco has a long history of industrial and automotive experience in Canada and the US. Their notable contributions include participation in six Toyota projects spanning from Tupelo Mississippi to Woodstock Ontario, as well as involvement in Mercedes Benz projects in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and General Motors in Flint Michigan.

Burnco operates primarily out of its 180,000 square feet fabrication facility in Concord, with plans to expand by an additional 50,000 square feet. The facility houses around 250 employees, including engineers and various operational teams. The steel manufacturing industry is constantly evolving, requiring adaptation to mitigate supply and operational interruptions. Burnco has incorporated more automation into its fabrication facilities to improve efficiencies and reduce reliance on labor. This strategic move has not only enhanced their operational efficiency but also positioned them as a forward-thinking company in the industry. “When we started nearly 30 years ago, we ventured into structural steel, growing from a new player to one of Canada’s top 10 steel fabricators in both size and quality. In the bridge sector, we proudly rank among the top 3 or 4, showcasing our commitment to excellence and growth,” says John Boote, General Manager.

“Burnco’s philosophy of management revolves around delivering exceptional customer service by supporting their team and addressing challenges head-on.”

Burnco Manufacturing’s recent recognition as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies is a testament to its commitment to evolution and innovation. One key factor is their people-first approach, focusing on customer service and supporting their team to deliver exceptional results. Despite challenges such as supply chain issues and weather-related disruptions, Burnco has maintained a track record of delivering projects to clients, ensuring customer satisfaction. Burnco’s philosophy of management revolves around delivering exceptional customer service by supporting their team and addressing challenges head-on. “Burnco Manufacturing is honored to be recognized as one of the country’s best managed companies. Our commitment to excellent customer service and supporting our team has been key. We’ve always made sure to deliver projects, no matter the challenges, whether it’s supply chain hiccups or dealing with weather setbacks. It’s all part of the construction business, but we’ve stayed true to our promise of delivering for our clients, and that’s what sets us apart,” says Boote.

Being a team member at Burnco is a source of immense esteem and fulfillment. “We take great pride in the quality of our work. We build products that awe the average person on the street. It’s amazing to see pieces that are 100 to 150 feet long being shipped across the country. Participating in the creation of such impressive structures is truly awesome,” says Boote. This sentiment resonates throughout the team, highlighting the awe-inspiring nature of their work and the sense of accomplishment they derive from contributing to such significant projects.

The most recent awe-inspiring project completed by the team is The Gordie Howe International Bridge. This superstructure is a cable-stayed bridge spanning the Detroit River, currently under construction. The crossing connects Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario providing the busiest border crossing point with increased capacity for uninterrupted freeway traffic flow for travelers and industry. Named for Canadian hockey great and long-time Detroit Red Wings and NHL All-Star player, this project is a joint effort between the builder, Bridging North America, and the US Federal Highway Administration, Transport Canada, Ontario Ministry of Transportation and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). Burnco Manufacturing was tasked with delivering the structural steel girders to support the approach ramp from grade to the main crossing over the river.

Securing the contract for the Gordie Howe Bridge project was a considerable achievement for Burnco Manufacturing. It involved a rigorous bidding process and months of collaboration with the client, Bridging North America. Burnco’s success in winning the bid can be attributed to its technical qualifications, local presence, and proven track record in delivering high-quality structural steel products.

The Gordie Howe Bridge project holds immense significance as it serves as a vital link between Windsor and Detroit. By participating in such a large-scale international bridge project, Burnco has not only enhanced its industry recognition but also solidified its position as a leading fabricator capable of handling complex and high-profile projects.

The completion of their portion of the Gordie Howe Bridge project has positioned Burnco for future growth and opportunities, particularly in the US market. The company’s successful delivery of 150 curved girders over a nine-month period showcases its technical expertise and capacity to undertake large-scale projects. This accomplishment has not only garnered industry recognition but also paved the way for potential partnerships and collaborations with other contractors in future projects.

While the company primes for the future, Burnco is also celebrating a milestone that highlights its history and longevity. As Burnco Manufacturing celebrates its 30th anniversary, the company’s staying power can be attributed to its ongoing drive to grow, expand, and provide exceptional service to clients. This commitment to excellence has enabled Burnco to evolve with the industry and maintain its position as a leader in the steel fabrication sector.

Looking ahead, the construction industry is expected to continue evolving, with advancements in technology playing a significant role. Burnco Manufacturing anticipates continued growth in automation and the development of new materials, which will require the company to remain adaptable and innovative to meet the changing needs of its clients. Burnco is already planning to increase its labor force to accommodate its expanding operations. With specific targets still under discussion, the company’s intention is clear—to continue evolving its business and expanding its reach in the coming years.

Apart from its core steel fabrication business, Burnco has also ventured into coatings operations, both in-house and in the field. The company’s participation in The Gordie Howe International Bridge project (all the curved bridge girders are coated with a 3-part elaborate coating system) required Burnco to acquire a new coating certification program and make modifications to some of their equipment and manufacturing processes. This diversification has not only expanded Burnco’s service offerings but has also allowed the company to partner with manufacturers and corrosion specialists, enhancing its ability to provide an elevated customer experience with diverse products and industry specializations.

Burnco’s relationships with coating manufacturers and automation experts, such as sister company, Prodevco Robotic Solutions, have been instrumental in its success. These partnerships have enabled Burnco to develop equipment and processes that set it apart from traditional steel fabricators, showcasing its ability to innovate and adapt to new challenges. “In our industry, standing still means falling behind. That’s why we’ve embraced automation, recognizing its transformative power. In 2015, we acquired Prodevco to enhance our fabrication capabilities. Change and adaptation aren’t just strategies; they’re our lifelines,” says Boote.

As Burnco Manufacturing reflects on its 30-year journey, it is evident that adaptability, innovation, and a commitment to excellence have been the cornerstones of its success. Looking ahead, Burnco remains poised for continued growth and expansion, driven by its dedication to meeting the evolving needs of the construction industry and its clients.

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