Business in Vancouver – September, 2007
Her family’s Kryton International Inc. has pioneered a growing global construction sector market for the company’s waterproofing technology
Kryton International Inc.’s 30-something CEO Kari Yuers knows concrete isn’t sexy.
She appreciates that the federal and civic politicians slated to cut the ribbon at the official September 14 opening of the company’s new 37,000-square-foot Vancouver headquarters will be there because everyone loves a success story.
Yuers’ company, which makes concrete-waterproofing products, is growing rapidly, and not just because it’s doubling its office and lab space to 14,000 square feet and quadrupling its warehouse space to 21,000 square feet. Kryton generates eight figure annual revenue selling proprietary waterproofing products to construction companies and other builders in 40 countries. Each year its revenue jumps by “double digits,” said Yuen, who declined to reveal exact numbers.
The former Ernst and Young Pacific region entrepreneur of the year award winner assumed Kryton’s CEO reins in 2001, 27 years after her father, chairman Ron Yuers, founded the venture. Her brother, Kevin Yuers, is Kryton’s chief operating officer.
The big-thinking family patriarch found distributors in Australia, Mexico, Czechoslovakia and Hong Kong in the 1970s and 1980s.
In the 1990s, he experimented with joint ventures in Indonesia, India and mainland China.
His daughter solidified her company’s international reach this century by buying out joint-venture partners, expanding into the Middle East through distributors and by opening a Dubai office in February. Less than 10% of the company’s sales are now in Canada.
Key to the upward spiral of Kryton’s global success is the product originally developed by its founder.
“[It] could be brushed onto the concrete and seep into the concrete and then grow billions of hair-like crystals so that the water could not travel through it,” said Kari Yuers.
During Yuers’ tenure, she has spearheaded development of award-winning waterproofing products like the one that’s mixed with other ingredients when builders make wet concrete. That innovation stood conventional industry wisdom on its head.
Builders traditionally coated concrete with a waterproof membrane after it had dried.
Kryton’s newest product is far more advanced. When water starts to penetrate the concrete, chemicals inside it initiate a reaction in which long, narrow crystals form and plug any pores, capillaries or hairline cracks in the concrete.
If new cracks form and water starts to seep into the concrete, the concrete can self-seal. New moisture
reacts with dormant chemicals and new crystal pore plugs are formed.
Builders were initially skeptical about the product, but they’ve warmed to the idea that concrete can
be waterproof as soon as it dries.
“There are other crystal waterstop systems, but my experience is certainly that Kryton’s products work better than [its] competitors,” said Concord Pacific Group Inc. project manager Mike Wurm.
Wurm used Kryton’s original waterproof coating products to fix parking lot leaks when he worked for Blue Tree Management building the Bayshore Gardens in Coal Harbour five years ago. That development’s parking lot was coated with Kryton’s waterproofing product.
By the time Wurm was put in charge of parts of Concord Pacific’s 560-unit, five-tower Coopers Landing neighbourhood, Kryton had released its product that can be added to concrete mix.
He jumped at the chance to incorporate it in an entire parkade and encouraged his team to stop using sealants from Massachusetts-based Grace Construction Products.
“The Grace product is basically a rubber skin. It’s like you’re putting a gumboot on the outside of concrete foundation,” Wurm said. “Using Kryton’s product will remove one step and save us months of construction time.”
Adam Rawlings, who is CEO of Delta-based waterproofing consultants R&W Waterproofi ng Ltd., heaped similar praise on Kryton. He has used its products to repair below-water elevator pits at both Port Coquitlam’s Creekside Village and at the waterfront North Shore Auto Mall.
“It seems to hold off the water for a lot longer, and we don’t have as many callbacks for leaks.”