The Graff Company ULC: Demolishing the Competition
The Graff Company ULC (Graff) has spent 45 years sawing, drilling and scanning its way to top of its industry. Based out of Brampton, Ontario, the company has steadily grown thanks to developing employees into a unified “Team Graff” that delivers through superior customer service. “The company was founded in 1965 and has grown to become Ontario’s largest concrete sawing, drilling, scanning and x-ray company,” according to David Neal, vice president of Canadian operations.
In 2007 the last member of the actual Graff family sold the business to Penhall Company – the largest provider of concrete sawing, drilling, demolition and highway grinding services in the United States. Penhall Company immediately found itself with a formidable presence in Canada through industry leader Graff, as well as an opportunity to add further strength to a company with an impeccable reputation for unparalleled service, experience and dedication to swift, efficient and economical solutions throughout the region.
One-Stop Shop for Concrete Cutting, Drilling, Removal and Overall Damage Prevention
Graff services three specific specialties throughout Ontario. The firm’s core business, concrete cutting and drilling, is supplemented with a wide range of demolition services. For all radar scanning and x-ray needs, the Grafscan division leads the industry in damage prevention. Drawing from these complementary services, Graff is committed to using its capabilities to solve its customer’s greatest challenges. The company reinforces its consistent performance through personalized, dedicated customer service, a large investment in the growth of employees, and putting together the perfect team for a client’s needs.
To supplement its core sawing and drilling business, Graff has the largest fleet of diamond wire saws, floor grinders and electric mini-excavators in the province.
In concert with Penhall Company, Graff will soon be offering Highway Diamond Grinding. “We are expanding into highway grinding with our fleet of self-contained G-38 Grinders,” Neal says. The operation is clean, quick and environmentally friendly. This investment in specialized technology uses a recycle method of water supply, so that grinding slurry is immediately vacuumed for disposal. This way, roadways are ready for traffic as soon as equipment has left the site.
The firm's non-destructive testing division, known as Grafscan, can locate embedded objects in concrete prior to cutting or pinpoint private utilities before excavating. It performs this using x-ray, ground penetrating radar, electromagnetic pipe and cable locating, magnetic rebar locators and cover meters. This Damage Prevention Team is prompt and accurate, and always on the leading edge.
In addition, Graff’s Contracting Group offers customers more of a "subcontractor" approach. Oftentimes projects require extensive cutting, drilling and removal. These projects are addressed through the tender process and typically require detailed scope identification and a clear methodology. These jobs are also more likely to require contract administration, project management and on-site supervision.
The Graff Contracting Group actively monitors tender opportunities and reaches out to interested bidders prior to tender submission. This ensures customers have a competent, pre-tender bid for any cutting, drilling and selective removal.
Ultimately, neither the amount of services offered nor the new technology utilized would matter without skilled employees. As Neal states, “We don’t manufacture our product, or manage other trades. We actually perform the construction work. We’re the last step in the process, so we are heavily people-oriented, because it takes people to sell our work, manage our work, and do our work. Without our employees we’d have nothing to offer.”
“It is for just this reason” Neal continues,” that ensuring a ZERO Accident Culture at Graff is an unwavering daily commitment. We are proud of many things here at Graff, but our focus on ensuring an accident-free workplace is our highest value.”
Expansion Based in Experience
The highly professional, laudably personable Graff workforce has been a part of numerous interesting projects throughout its storied history. Three recent ones that are notable are the hydro windmills in the Ontario townships of Melancthon and Amaranth, the expansion of Yorkdale Mall, Canada’s most renowned shopping center, as well as the renovation of Union Station in Toronto.
In 2009 approximately 4,860 hectares of land were obtained for wind power development in the open fields of Amaranth and Melancthon. Graff took part in the project by core drilling the support holes at the bottom of the structures. Each windmill is roughly 400-feet tall, and requires precise drilling and accurate placement over 30-feet deep into the earth for it to remain stable. These windmills provide safe hydro-electricity, and generate over 350,000 megawatt-hours per year of renewable energy.
The Yorkdale Mall expansion showcased Graff’s ability to find solutions to any problem. The shopping center, which is one of Canada’s most well-known, added an atrium that’s 70-feet wide, 400-feet long and three-stories high as a part of a $220 million expansion.
“That was a project where a significant amount of structural concrete was removed to make an atrium,” according to Neal. “We cut and removed the entire floor to create that opening.” Graff sawcut, crushed and broke 70,000 square feet of suspended slab, columns and beams over the three floors. In addition it used soft demolition techniques to strip out former store interiors and movie theaters, and did all this work without the aid of large equipment due to restrictions.
Finally, Graff has a very complicated, ongoing project at Union Station. “It’s a five-year project. We’re doing all the concrete alterations to allow new passenger access from one level to another, as well as track level and passenger walkway alterations,” Neal says. It is a $200 million project that requires extensive wall sawing, wire sawing and selective demolition.
With all these projects to its name the Graff Company can’t help but have its eyes set on growth. “We’re looking to grow organically, within house, and by acquisition,” according to Neal. “We’re expanding across Ontario and into all of Canada.” While the goal is to reach new frontiers, the company’s success is very much rooted in the past. As Neal eloquently states, “The success of our company is really reflected in the seniority of the current staff. We have people that have 40, 35, 30 years of tenure with Graff. Within an industry that is typically very transient, the length of employment is … humbling.”
Through a commitment to exceeding expectations from clients, and emphasizing a safe, forward-minded environment for employees, the Graff Company has experienced several decades of sustained growth and development. With its ongoing internal investments and strategic partnerships the company is positioned to continue in this direction for many more years to come.