When “working for the man” just wasn’t cutting it anymore, Justin Ladouceur and his partner Billy Kay believed they were capable enough to branch out on their own. Having grown up with exposure in and around construction sites, they decided to take a stab at it and forge their own path in the concrete business. Aside from skill and experience, the desire to build a better life for themselves and their families led them to starting their own concrete business, Advantage Concrete Solutions Ltd.
Another main driver for starting their own business was that they wanted to contribute to their community by employing Indigenous workers. They are giving people a product they can be proud of, and a growing record of customer satisfaction is their badge of honor.
Cast in Place
Wanting a better future for themselves, Justin and Billy decided to seek out assistance for their growing idea. After searching the internet and speaking with mentors, they found Business Link online and made an appointment. Being new to business they didn’t know what path to go down, so with assistance from our Indigenous Services team and helpful guidebooks, plus grant support from Atikameg (Justin’s band), they were able to start immediately.
“We came to Business Link because we were looking for guidance.”
Advantage Concrete Solutions is a growing concrete business providing Edmontonians with concrete services that last. They respect your budget, and work within it to transform your outdoor space into something spectacular. As they’ve grown, they’ve found a need to hire help. They prefer to pick the “greenest of the green” employees so that they are able to teach their trade to others—they currently have two full-time employees and one part-time. If the job requires more hands, they can employ as many as 12 people at a time.
Business Is a Grind
One growing pain of any business seems to be making ends meet. Not only is cash flow a constant concern, but understanding how to handle the people they work with on a daily basis was a huge learning curve for Justin and Billy. Trying to keep everyone happy is one aspect they did not consider in the beginning. There are many different people to comply with, like employees, customers, and vendors that they purchase their supplies from. While dealing with so many aspects of running a business is a challenge, they don’t give up. Although it seems tough in the beginning, it’s all worth it at the end of the day.
With everything they’ve learned, Justin and Billy have some tips to keep in mind for others in business or those who are exploring their options:
- You’re always going to want to quit, so make sure you have somebody that’s helping you along the way.
- Make the right handshakes so you don’t burn bridges. Keep your relationships intact so that if you decide you want to start a company in the future, you have all those contacts that you can rely on and they can rely on you too.
- Your company doesn’t have to be big to be among the best.
Advantage Concrete Solutions grew out of Justin and Billy’s desire to build a better life for themselves and their families while providing employment to other Indigenous workers. They wanted the opportunity to build something they could be proud of while working in an industry they enjoyed. As an entrepreneur, it is important to set realistic expectations for your business and start your business for the right reasons. If you don’t have a passion for your business, your employees, and your customers, it will be more difficult to put in the long hours that are necessary for any startup to succeed!
We are so excited to see how far Justin and Billy have come and the important lessons they’ve learned along the way.