WELSH SUCCESS STORIES
Peter Brewin and Will Crawford founded Concrete Canvas Ltd in 2005 while studying industrial engineering at Imperial College and the Royal College of Art respectively. What began as a brainwave between lectures is now an award-winning product with a global customer base.
In a nutshell, the duo’s innovative manufacturing solution, Concrete Canvas, is a flexible, concrete impregnated fabric that hardens when sprayed with water to form a thin, durable, waterproof and fire resistant concrete layer. The result? Ready-to-roll concrete. The ingenuity of the design lies in its simplicity as it cuts out the need for plant or mixing equipment – the only requirement is water.
The company has grown rapidly since its inception in 2005 and now distributes to over 80 countries across the world. Its founders credit the success and growth to the unique make-up of their core technology which is now utilised across three different products:
• Concrete Canvas (CC) – which can be laid at a rate of 200m²/hour, up to 10 times faster than conventional concrete solutions.
• CC Shelters – which, in their simplest form, are “a building in a bag”. Once deployed, the shelter requires only water and air for construction and has a design life of over ten years.
• CC Hydro – which is the world’s first all-in-one armoured impermeable liner for containment applications.
Concrete Canvas Ltd’s multifaceted product offering has been key to its global success and coveted industry recognition. Not only are all products eco-friendly but they all benefit from being quick and easy to install.
Exports have been key to driving company growth and were responsible for 85% of Concrete Canvas’s turnover last year alone. Outside of exports, the company achieved record financial growth in the last 12 months and has increased workforce by over 20% during this time.
The duo supplemented export activity by focusing on recruiting talented high-level personnel which included recruiting a team of business development managers that head-up sales and distribution across Latin America, North Africa, Asia and the Middle East. At the same time, company offices were opened across Europe, Australia and South Africa, a decision Peter and Will made to ensure high quality customer support and increased market visibility.
The businessmen’s decision paid off and in 2014 Concrete Canvas was named the second Fastest Growing Manufacturer in the UK by the Sunday Times, as well as winning the Made in Wales’ Exporter of the Year award in 2016. The accolades have continued to pour in for the concrete specialists and they recently won a Lloyd’s National Business Award as well as being crowned the Welsh Business of the Year for 2017, at the South Wales Chamber of Commerce awards
But the dynamic duo believe innovation is the real route to growth. The pair welcome ideas and suggestions from all areas within the business, across all levels, and these ideas are regularly implemented, whether its recommendations to operating procedures or changes to product designs.
As innovation is so important to Concrete Canvas the company holds a number of patents to protect the firm’s award-winning product line. The patent portfolio is extensive with 95 patents pending or granted worldwide through 26 territories.
The business partners’ greatest achievement is the employment opportunities they have created across the economically deprived area of the South Wales Valleys, a region which suffered substantially from redundancies during the last recession. It is a fate Will and Peter were able to avoid as a result of their exporting prowess.
From a CSR point of view, the company value the importance of charity fundraising and giving back to the local community. Last year, six members of the team ran the Cardiff Half Marathon in support of Prostate Cancer UK. This is something the company is keen to build upon each year by supporting a nominated charity or social enterprise as it not only aids team building but also enables fundraising and awareness raising. This years’ chosen cause is Cwtch Baby Bank, a charity that distributes pre-loved baby items to vulnerable families in the community.