Launch Slideshow

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A Tale of Two Families

A Tale of Two Families

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    Jenna Bodnar/Getty Images

    Bill and Debbie Harper say all 50 employees of Harper Concrete Inc. have the same opportunities as family members.

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    Jenna Bodnar/Getty Images

    Dale Garrett bought an existing ready-mix plant and started Garrett Ready Mix in Sparwood, British Columbia. His wife, Judy, is company president and Dale is secretary.

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    Garrett Ready Mix

    Once a mining community, Fernie Snow Valley has become a major ski and golf destination. Garrett Ready Mix pours footings for a restaurant at the Fernie Alpine Resort.

Garrett Ready Mix Ltd. / Sparwood, British Columbia

Fernie Snow Valley, named one of Canada's top 10 ski resorts for powder by Ski Canada magazine, would be a very different place if it weren't for the Garrett family. Judy and Dale Garrett, the owners of Garrett Ready Mix, have been contributing to the area's growth as a major recreation destination since 1985.

The producer's first concrete pour was at the top of a new lift at Fernie Alpine Resort. Since then, it has supplied concrete for two more ski lifts, hotels, lodges, and other residential and commercial projects supporting the influx of workers and tourists.

But the family's ready-mix experience goes back even further. “We've been around concrete since day-one of our relationship,” says Judy, 58. Dale worked for the batch plant's previous owners, Jed and Patricia McGauley, for 18 years. Garrett's grandfather, father, two uncles, and two brothers had also worked for the McGauley Ready Mix Concrete Co. at different times since 1952. During those years, concrete work revolved around building coal mines.

When McGauley began selling its assets, Dale, then a plant manager, bought one of the ready-mix plants and four ready-mix trucks and started his own company. When they bought the Sparwood plant, Judy, now company president, began running the office, including dispatching, processing orders, and handling employee relations. Dale, 61, now company secretary, is in charge of the “outside” end of the business: batching, maintenance, and crushing aggregates.

They borrowed the model from the McGauleys, who ran their company together for more than 30 years until they were 82 years old. “It took both of them and both of their talents to do it,” says Dale. “In our business, Judy takes care of things I know nothing about, like bookkeeping. She tells me what I can and can't buy.”