By Debby Belding
Impressive. It’s the best word to describe what the people at Dayson Industrial Services Inc. do for a living. Dayson is a full service sandblasting, painting and lining applicator offering protection systems for both concrete and steel. These experts in their field – all members of the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades – focus one hundred percent on industrial contracting and their projects are as varied as the industries they serve. These painters have unique canvasses – structural bridges and decks, water towers, petroleum and refinery tanks, blast furnaces, ore bridges and other mammoth pieces of equipment in the steel mills, to name just a few of the items that are privy to their work.
Impressive. It’s the best word to describe what the people at Dayson Industrial Services Inc. do for a living.
Dayson is a full service sandblasting, painting and lining applicator offering protection systems for both concrete and steel. These experts in their field – all members of the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades – focus one hundred percent on industrial contracting and their projects are as varied as the industries they serve. These painters have unique canvasses – structural bridges and decks, water towers, petroleum and refinery tanks, blast furnaces, ore bridges and other mammoth pieces of equipment in the steel mills, to name just a few of the items that are privy to their work.
“We de-scale metal products by all means and methods and then we coat them for protection,” explains Jeffry Butcher, President. “We do applications of all conventional protective coatings, fireproofing, pumped and sprayed aggregate filled epoxy linings, elastomerics, urethanes, glass systems of epoxy, vinyl esters (FRP) guniting, etc. for both new and existing concrete and steel surfaces.”
Jeff, who now heads up the family business that his grandfather Bert Butcher founded in 1923, is a graduate of Appleby College and Mohawk College’s Architectural Technology program. He worked for an engineering firm after college and then in 1975 joined what was then H.H. Butcher & Son, with his father Herb Butcher at the helm. At that time, business in the Brantford company was slowing so on a tip from his long-time associate Calvin Edgar who served with him on the Ontario Painting Contractors Association, Herb purchased Day and Sons, located in Hamilton.
“I was brought down in 1977 to work with the previous owner and learn the ropes. I was put in the driver’s seat at the time and have never looked back,” says Jeff noting that he served as Chief Estimator to General Manager to Vice President, right up to President, before purchasing the company outright in 1992.
Today, Dayson Industrial Services Inc. operates according to the same strong work ethics that have been passed on down through the generations. Honesty and integrity are not just family values, but strong business principles that have earned Dayson Industrial respect in the industry and long standing relationships with many of its customers.
They service an impressive list of clients, in a variety of industries, all across Ontario, including Dofasco, Petro Canada, The Ministry of the Environment, Seaway Marine Transport, Dupont, C.P. Rail, Quono, Irving Oil, Albright and Wilson, Stelco, Inco, Esso, Ontario Hydro, The Ministry of Transportation and the St. Lawrence Seaway, among others.
There were some lean times over the years, but Dayson Industrial’s strong commitment to meeting its customer’s stringent production schedules has helped the company thrive and prosper. Consider one of their recently completed projects. They had just five days to clean, wash, prime and paint twenty-five bays in a steel mill.
“We worked around the clock and had eighteen guns operaating and used over 2,000 gallons of paint. But we did it,” says Jeff proudly. “You have to meet these schedules, every single hour, or else you’re going to get behind. I have never not done it,” he says emphasizing the importance of coordinating equipment and manpower to meet each project schedule. “Our men are totally trained and well qualified for this work. The fact that we have a very quick turnaround on jobs like that is what sets our company apart from others in the industry. I figure if I can’t do it, there’s nobody in the province that can do it.”
When asked what he attributes the success of his company to to-date, Jeff does not hesitate in answering: “honesty, quality of work and I’ve always been able to look everybody directly in the eyes. You can’t cheat – if you do, you’ll get caught and then you’re done.”
Another major contributing factor, according to Jeff, is the fact that he makes the money “and then I re-invest it back into the business. This past year, I’ve re-invested about $200,000 to update all of our sand blasting equipment.” Solid financial planning goes hand-in-hand with sound business strategies such as keeping up-to-date on the latest technology and maintaining an extensive equipment fleet.
“Our equipment is all mobile – we take it on site,” states Jeff commenting that the company owns all of its equipment – from portable blasting units, (including ice Co2 blasting, soda blasting, steel grit and a host of other types), after coolers, compressors and a multitude of spray equipment, both conventional and airless; to service trucks, floats, forklifts, spiders and other access equipment. “We also own a lot of safety apparatus and specialized equipment like dust collectors, containments for elevated water towers and a hydro-cat plural pump. We use the hydro cat plural component, where the product mix is right at the gun, because the product can set up in five minutes. That kind of technology is great for a lot of industries. In the refineries, for instance, they used to do internal tank floors with an F.R.P. liner, which was a long process, and would take about seven days to cure and set up for service. Now, we can go in there with 100 per cent solid coatings, blast and coat a total tank in a few days and it can go back into service the following day. The owners certainly appreciate the quick turnaround. If you don’t keep up with the best technology to do your work, you’re going to be in trouble – either with the client or the Ministry of the Environment or the Ministry of Labour. Technology helps us go faster and do better work – there’s no question about it.”
Dayson are approved applicators of numerous manufacturers and regularly partner with producers to develop new lining materials. Butcher’s foresight to assess new markets enables Dayson Industrial to stay a few steps ahead of the competition.
“I can usually establish my path and it takes them about a year to catch up with the technology. That’s when the prices will drop and I’ll move on again. We want to be the forerunners of new technology.”
If there’s one challenge facing Dayson Industrial – and indeed the entire industry today – it’s the “shortage of skilled trades, making sure we’ve got workforce coming along for the future.”
Jeff’s son Ryan who has worked “in the field” with Dayson for two years and is currently training in quality assurance and estimating, says, “It’s a tough business to learn and there’s no new people coming into the trade. That’s a concern and something I’ll probably be worrying about in the future.”
Jeff agrees and is doing something about it. He is working with other industrial contractors to re-invent the O.P.C.A’s Industrial Committee and work with the union to recruit new members and get them trained before they get out on the job site. His son Brendan is currently serving his apprenticeship and working his way to achieve a journeyman position with the union. One of Jeff’s other concerns is that almost all paining contractors are brushed with the same stroke and not really recognized as professional people.
That’s hardly the case and Dayson and their crews who are all members of NACE, SSPC, OPCA and many of whom have written numerous technical papers and manuals and been published in industry magazines. They have also given presentations on materials performance. Jeff himself has served as President of the Ontario Painters Contractors Association and President of the Hamilton Federation.
“There are only about five companies in all of Ontario who can perform the quality of work that we do.”
The experience and expertise of the Dayson team has enabled them to tackle some very demanding projects.
“Every job we do is different and each one presents a different challenge,” says Jeff emphasizing that their work has to be performed with quality assurance. “When we’re blasting steel, for example, we have to meet a specific surface profile depending on the thickness of the coating. We have the gauges to check surface profile, painting thickness wet and dry per coat, humidity readings, etc. to ensure that we meet the specifications. Everything is covered by a written specification and we follow it like the Bible.”
Although there are no guarantees for what the future will bring, Jeff is optimistic about the industry and his company’s role in it.
“I’m hoping the government will spend some money on bridge infrastructure and that the water tower business will pick up. I can’t predict what will happen in private manufacturing – we just have to be ready to react. I’d like to be proactive in my business, but I can’t force anybody to do painting. One thing is certain though, we’ve never failed a customer yet.”