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Lean and agile, Caisson Consultant Inc. is well positioned to respond to client demands in the foundation equipment industry when competitors cannot

By Aaron Broverman

 

If looking to rent or buy foundation equipment on short notice or requiring that rare piece of equipment that no other foundation equipment rental company seems to have, chances are it can be found at Caisson Consultant Inc.

Christopher Wall, Caisson Consultant’s founder and owner, prides himself on being able to provide what no one else has available, thanks to the relationships and vast network he has built as a dealer of high rise, shoreline and bridge foundation equipment for rent or sale. The company also handles door-to-door shipping of the products.

“I can get whatever is in demand,” said Wall. “I’m always getting calls for certain products no one else has and I will source them. For example, a client was looking for a particular vibratory hammer excavator mount and we found a company in Germany called Kinshofer and they had it, so now we’re a dealer for them.”

Though Caisson Consultant Inc. is based in Aurora, Ont., they sell globally and have exclusive dealer relationships in Canada with many foundation equipment companies around the world, including TesCar in Italy, Foundation Equipment Supply (FES) in China, Sandhurst in the U.K., and Hammer and Steel in the U.S., among others.

This vast network of partners can be attributed to Caisson Consultant’s smaller size within the industry, which allows it to be more versatile and adapt to changing client demands much quicker than its larger competitors.

“When you become big, you’re bound to one single company, one single product or the product lines under one umbrella. You cannot have competing product lines from different manufacturers because it would be a conflict of interest for a large company,” said Anthony Royan, Caisson Consultant’s sales manager. “Since we’re not that big, we don’t have that problem and we can reach out our hands to anywhere and any product.”

“Our strength is availability,” said Wall. “You do well in this field by having the equipment because no one in the foundation world plans a job in three months and that’s exactly when it’s going to start. They might close a job today and want to start next week. That’s the way it works. If you have equipment on the ground, that’s really what makes you a leader.”

Though its lean corporate structure of 11 employees (with only one sales manager, service manager and general manager under Wall) allows the company to be flexible and react faster to client demands, this is not Caisson Consultant’s only advantage.

While its competition focuses on providing larger rigs built for the biggest excavation projects, Caisson has taken a humbler approach. It has found success by providing the necessary equipment for jobs small to mid-size in scope.

“The other thing is we have a lot of attachments that go on excavators whether it be for tooling or piling and not many companies in the Toronto or GTA market have these kinds of attachments,” said Royan. For example, as TesCar’s exclusive dealer in Canada, Caisson Consultant is the only foundation equipment dealer with a TesCar CF3B drilling attachment. Ideal for residential shoring, it’s capable of switching between excavation and drilling on a single truck in less than two hours. Also in Caisson’s portfolio is Sandhurst’s Articulator 5000 – a hydraulic excavator that can lift 5,000 kilograms and grip any beam or pipe between 300 millimetres and 1,200 mm in diameter while rotating 360 degrees.

Caisson Consultant’s strategy may seem counter-intuitive from the outside: after all, shouldn’t the company with the biggest, most powerful tools win? For Caisson, it’s quite the opposite. The company has four varieties of TesCar equipment – designed for limited access and universally understood as the smaller piling rigs on the market – and yet, Royan says all four types are rented out 70 per cent of the year, translating to seven months of rental per rig per year.

Despite the pandemic, Caission doubled its revenue in 2020, compared to 2019, thanks to its rigs being so in demand. The company still has the capability to provide some equipment for bigger jobs when called upon due to its access to equipment from Hammer and Steel in the U.S.

Not bad for a company Wall started while doing renovations after previously working as a project manager and excavator in the shoring industry.

“I was doing renovations, after the shoring market went bad, and a foundation equipment company out of Italy called Cassagrande approached me about where they could rent rigs in Canada,” said Wall. “I started with them and after about three years, I ended that relationship and started doing stuff myself.” The stuff he started doing was building relationships with the companies around the world who could supply the rigs he needed, like FES.

“I used to sell a lot of used foundation equipment back when I started in 2004, but now the used market has kind of dried up and rentals have become our main business,” Wall said.

Instead of selling something once, renting allows Caisson to make money on the same machine multiple times a year. Then, when an opportunity presents itself, the company will typically sell the rig at market value. It’s Wall’s ability to pivot like this and change with the market that has allowed Caisson Consultant to stay successful for over 16 years in the foundation equipment supply industry. That, and, by Royan’s account, Wall has some of the best people in the industry working for him.

“Our service manager Swamy Nathan has been trained by Bauer and Klemm and worked there for seven years,” said Royan. “Based in Germany, Bauer and Klemm are the world’s best building equipment manufacturers that are way ahead of the competition by a wide margin, and they themselves have acknowledged that [Nathan] possesses the skill and knowledge to be the best technician they ever had working in North America.”

Caisson Consultant retains people of Nathan’s calibre by providing fair compensation packages, and in Nathan’s case, elevating him from a technician to a service manager. With people like Nathan working in his company, Wall knows the sky is the limit and is currently working on Caisson Consultant’s continued expansion so he can eventually – and realistically – compete with larger players.

“We’re looking at developing relationships with more dealerships and suppliers right now. It’s something we need. To compete with my competitors, I need more equipment and it must be bigger. We want to be a one-stop shop,” said Wall.

To that end, Caisson Consultant is growing its new CCI Hydraulics division as well. Since every piece of the machinery the company rents and sells is hydraulic, and its clients are always dealing with hydraulics, they want to be able to service them.

“I’m excited about the potential for the hydraulics business because literally everything I have at Caisson operates on hydraulics and those hydraulic hoses break all the time,” said Wall.

Beyond that, Wall is proud of how far Caisson Consultant Inc. has come and considers himself fortunate to have been able to forge his own path and work in an industry he loves on his own terms.

“Being a supplier over a contractor, you have a bit of freedom. I get to travel because theoretically, as long as I have my cell phone and my laptop I can work anywhere. Whereas, as a contractor, you’re on jobsites all the time,” said Wall. “I like sales because I get to deal with everyone, and I keep good relationships with my competitors as well and that’s the way it should be. Not everybody could do what I do.” 

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.