Piling Canada

Family Connection

Prairie piling company Cam-Arrow Drilling demonstrates the benefits of generational companies
Written by Vanessa Kunderman
March 2015

Prairie piling company Cam-Arrow Drilling demonstrates the benefits of generational companies

Many parents glow with pride as they watch their children grow, but watching your son take over the company you built from the ground up is something only a few get to experience.

The soft-spoken father-son duo at Cam-Arrow Drilling Inc. has been hauling their rigs all over Manitoba since the year 2000. From helping build homes for Manitoba Hydro up north in Gillam, to developing some of the most bustling business parks in Winnipeg, Cam and Derek Henry have been busy. But over the course of 2014 and 2015, Cam-Arrow ownership is changing hands from father to son.

As the Winnipeg piling industry continues to grow, the Henry team is hoping to keep Cam-Arrow thriving at a steady pace. And a burgeoning company doesn’t have time for failing equipment, so keeping their rigs, trucks and skid steers top of the line is a major priority, regardless of which Henry is calling the shots.

“I think our equipment speaks a lot for what we have accomplished,” said Cam Henry, owner of Cam-Arrow. “I think we have the nicest drill rigs in town – we don’t have the most equipment, but ours is top of the line.”

“When people see our new rigs and trucks when we pull up on site, I think it makes them feel confident in us,” said Derek Henry, manager at Cam-Arrow.

With two new Watson 1100 rigs, shiny skid steers and no piece of equipment older than 2008, it’s easy to see why the Henrys are confident in their tools.

But it’s the men behind the piles that keep everything as sturdy and secure as the holes they’re drilling.

“I think we are very honest,” said Cam. “And if it is a bad hole and it is going to cost us money to fix it – we will do it. Money isn’t our bottom line – we are about good product and our reputation backs that up. We really have a great bunch of guys to work with.”

That team connection doesn’t go unnoticed by clients, either.

“We get a lot of compliments in regards to the camaraderie on jobs,” said Derek. “Contractors notice how well our guys get along. We’re a young group of guys, so there is a lot of potential to grow with the company.”

And rewarding employees is another foundational aspect for Cam-Arrow’s family focus. Paid company golf days, bonuses and benefits are just a few perks Cam and Derek stand by.

“We try our hardest to keep our guys busy, but slow times are inevitable. If there is no drilling, we’ll find work for them to do. We don’t focus on laying our guys off,” said Derek.


Though father and son don’t always see each other between sites, the two are in constant communication throughout the day, underscoring their strong family dynamic.

Even the company name was founded over a couple of beers between brothers.

“I was trying to figure out a name when I first decided to do this full-time,” Cam said with a chuckle. “My brother sort of half-heartedly said, ‘Well, your name is Cam and you drill straight as an arrow,’ and the name kind of stuck! Only now, everyone thinks Arrow is my last name.”

Cam had been working for Preset Piling Ltd. when he hit a professional wall. After discovering there was no room to grow at the large company, Cam’s journey in the industry organically grew into starting his own company. He started small, taking side jobs with rented equipment until he landed his own 90-hole job. Cam promptly gave his notice to leave Preset, and Cam-Arrow Drilling was born.

Derek started working summers with Cam-Arrow as a teenager, and got a front-row view at how quickly his father’s company was growing.

Cam-Arrow’s strong reputation of quality work paired with hardworking employees helped grow the company quickly, and Cam’s experience within a larger company helped him learn what did and didn’t work.

Cam-Arrow is responsible for the piles in the busy strip mall down Kenaston Boulevard in Winnipeg, a hotbed for box store shopping and tourism in the prairie city. Not even the dead cold of an icy January could stop Cam-Arrow’s 300- hole project from reaching completion.

And son, Derek, was along for the frosty, ice-bound job.

“Everyone got along really well,” said Derek. “It was a smooth job for something so big for us. We’re lucky we’ve got such a great group of guys working with us.”

Neither Henry thinks Manitoba’s piling growth is slowing down. In the province’s heart, high quality buildings are being built, with a focus on piles as the sturdy footprint of each building. With more and more projects bubbling up to the surface, Cam-Arrow’s growth options are plenty.

“I don’t want to put any pressure on Derek in regards to the company’s future,” Cam said, eschewing any personal hopes for the future of the company he started. “It’s whatever Derek wants. Regardless of what he would do, I would be proud of him.”

According to Winnipeg-based independent business consultant and coach, Greg Ware, only 50 per cent of generational company successions are effective. Despite the mediocre statistic, Derek isn’t deterred.

“Right now we have one crew going steady – we have the equipment for two crews, so I’d like to see two going full- time,” he said. “If it makes sense, we may get into driving piles, but I’m fine with where we’re going. I’d love to experiment with three or four crews doing exactly what we’re doing now.”

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Category: Profile

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