The Bright Side of Business bimonthly column is presented by Star Motors.
In 1956, Luigi Mion left Italy for Canada, looking to build a new life.
Within a year, he had landed in Ottawa and co-founded Central Precast, a company manufacturing precast concrete products.
Today, Central Precast has spun off into three separate companies – Central Precast, M CON Products and Utility Structures – under the umbrella of The Precast Group. Located in Nepean and Carp, the companies create a range of products including landscaping and utility products, manholes, as well as concrete pipes and box structures for city infrastructure.
“The market (in Ottawa) was never really big enough for one particular product line,” explains John Mion, the president of The Precast Group and Luigi Mion’s son. “We had to be really diversified.”
Like father, like son
In the early ’80s, John Mion joined his father at Central Precast, working alongside his brother, uncle and cousins.
“It was the type of thing where everybody worked here in the summer,” Mion says. “We had three cousins, one at each of the different facilities.”
That family tradition continued throughout the decades – Mion’s own three sons now work at The Precast Group.
The business has worked on a range of projects over the years, including Nortel’s facilities in the ’80s as well as facilities for big-name retailers such as Home Depot, Canadian Tire and Walmart. The firm’s most recent project was a new Amazon facility in Quebec.
“We're doing these massive warehouse projects,” Mion says, adding that The Precast Group’s 300 staff members – including several long-serving employees with 25 to 50 years of service – remain busy.
Combined, the businesses serve more than 1,000 clients – some of which have been around since the very beginning.
“That's what keeps us going – a lot of repeat customers,” Mion says, also acknowledging the support of the firm’s partners, vendors, suppliers and the wider community. “The word gets out.”
Fourth facility planned
For decades, it was smooth sailing for The Precast Group. Then, the pandemic hit.
In April 2020, there was an outbreak of COVID-19 in one of The Precast Group’s facilities.
“It came down to one person breaking the protocol in not reporting (that they felt unwell), and next thing you know, you’ve got four to six people in an office that are positive,” Mion recalls.
Thankfully, he says, the cases stopped there and The Precast Group quickly rolled out measures even before such rules became commonplace and, in some cases, mandated: Providing workers with masks and hand sanitizer, taking temperatures several times a day and asking visitors to queue up outside the building.
“Everybody on the team basically bought into the whole pandemic protocol, and that kept everybody safe,” Mion says.
At the same time, Mion was receiving calls from clients, nervous about the product supply chain for major projects like the light-rail extension, various roadworks projects, housing developments and more.
“The biggest concern for us was having to shut down and then letting down our customers,” he says. “We're very proud that we were able to keep all the projects going and keep them on schedule.”
The Precast Group has continued to expand during the pandemic, buying land in the west end of Ottawa to open a fourth facility. Looking even further into the future, Mion is looking to build off his more than 40 years of experience with the company by further developing leaders within the firm.
“I'm handing off more of my daily stuff so that I can let the rest of the team members take on a bigger role,” he says.
The Bright Side of Business is an editorial feature focused on sharing positive stories of business success.
This column is presented by Star Motors, Ottawa’s original Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes Van dealer.
Since 1957, Star Motors has provided its customers with the Mercedes-Benz “The Best or Nothing” standard in vehicle selection, service, genuine parts and certified collision repair.
For your convenience, you may shop, research, chat and compare vehicles online at starmotors.ca, and visit the 400 West Hunt Club location or call (613) 737-7827 for the very best in personal service.