Trucking gears up for return of Quebec residential construction – Truck News

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MONTREAL, Que. –
Quebec restarted selected residential construction activities this week,
following a shutdown that lasted almost a month because of Covid-19.
Residential construction businesses are back on the job to complete units scheduled
to be available by July 31 at the latest.

Even during that
shutdown, Patrick Morin Inc. was able to keep all of its drivers on the job
thanks to the booming online sales of hardware supplies.

The shifting business activities required some different strategies, however. The fleet had to lease Econoline vans that could be driven by Class 5 drivers, freeing personnel who hold Class 3 licences to deliver larger orders and bigger materials. There were new protocols to help prevent the spread of the virus during home deliveries, too.

Those protocols will
now be extended to construction sites.

Michel St-Jean of Patrick Morin believes there are enough building supplies at the ready to meet an anticipated surge in demand.

“The trucks are
disinfected before and after the shifts. There are disinfectant gel and gloves
in the trucks,” says general manager Michel St-Jean. “The deliverers respect
the distance of two meters, they ask the customer for his name and proof of
identity, but do not have the invoice signed. The same process will apply on
construction sites.”

And the teams keep an
eye on communications from groups like the Quebec Construction Association and
APCHQ, which represents residential construction and renovation businesses.

He believes enough
building supplies are available to meet the anticipated 30% surge in demand for
construction materials, as the sites reopen.

“We took
advantage of the shutdown to build up our inventories,” he says, referring to a
Patrick Morin distribution center in Saint-Paul-de-Joliette. “The timing was
ideal because our partners who deliver to us by truck had capacity, and we know
that, currently, road traffic is favorable for truckers and transportation is
done faster. We took the opportunity to stock up.”

Groupe BMR added 14
trucks to its operation this week following the month-long reduction in construction
activity, and has 26 trucks ready to go.

Martin Lecomte says Groupe BMR has 26 trucks ready to roll — an increase of 14 units this week thanks to the restart of construction activities.

“We anticipate
that this number will increase even more over the next few days, while
construction site activities will gradually resume their usual rhythm,” said
Martin Lecomte, vice-president – retail.

“The partial takeover
of residential construction sites is excellent news for Groupe BMR as it allows
us to recall a good number of drivers and relaunch operations on the
contractors side. That said, we will spare no effort to ensure the safety of
our employees and our customers by providing a service that meets the health
standards issued by Quebec.”

New procedures involve
wearing gloves and goggles, and maintaining a two-meter distance. If two employees
are in the same truck, they are required to wear masks.

There’s also a new
disinfection station in each truck, giving drivers what they need to wash their
hands and disinfect equipment before and after each delivery.

“Definitely, the
main difference with pre-Covid-19 and now are the sanitary measures,” says Lecomte,
who ensures the related supplies are available.

“In all
transparency, there are few impacts on our side when it comes to procurement.
We have been identified as an essential business. We have never stopped
sourcing, and our operational suppliers have been able to meet demand. In any
case, we always have stocks that are ordered in anticipation of several months.
So we haven’t had a problem with that.”

The reopening of
residential construction in the province also means a partial restart of the
concrete industry, which has essentially been stopped since March 24.

“If we rely on
statistics from Ontario — a province where residential construction has not
been stopped — we should expect an increase of 30% to 60% in activities
depending on the region,” said Luc Bédard, president of the Béton Québec
association.

Depending on the region
and time of year, residential construction can represent up to 60% of the
Quebec concrete industry’s volume.

“It is a fairly
sensitive sector,” said Bédard. “In Montérégie, Estrie and Québec, people
had already started digging to make their foundations. It will resume quickly.”

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