Max Santos – MAXX North America Group Inc.
They can take down 5,000-pound, 20-foot-long solid concrete railings—all in one piece. And that could be on a building as high as 37 stories.
“We’re the only ones on the market that can do it,” says Max Santos, founder and president of Ontario-headquartered MAXX North America Group Inc.
This is because the company uses two specialized, proprietary rigs that Santos himself engineered and built. The soft-spoken and succinct entrepreneur doesn’t share details or specs about this equipment—rival companies want the design and have tried to “nail it down” over the years—but it remains a differentiator for his rapidly-expanding group of businesses.
Spanning the spectrum
MAXX North America Group Inc. is comprised of Trisan General Contractors, Demolition MAXX, Restoration MAXX, Disposal MAXX and Enviro MAXX. Together, these entities provide the full range of services for construction, renovation and demolition projects across residential, commercial and industrial spheres, Santos says. Headquartered in Toronto, MAXX provides its services throughout eastern Canada and occasionally North America.
Over the past 16 years Santos and his companies have grown in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors, starting with Trisan, which Santos founded to capitalize on the high-rise building restoration market.
As the company became established, it branched into commercial projects, and finally leaped into a large-scale commercial restoration at the request of a client, Santos explains.
“It was not so much intriguing as it was scary,” he recalls. But it worked out. “We got our feet wet in restoration, and we never looked back.”
Today, with an employee base that expands and contracts with demand based on labor efficiencies and procedural improvements, MAXX North America Group Inc. focuses on high-rise restoration as its main business. But it also provides services around structural repairs; environmental remediation; major rehabilitation of large-scale balcony and building envelopes; below-ground parking garages; traffic coating and sidewalk repair; caulking work; and installation of hot rubber waterproofing membranes.
The company also operates on the principle “contractors helping contractors,” providing the design and rental of disposal bins and commercial equipment such as swing stages, debris netting, scaffolding and mast climbers. Santos has an affinity for the latter—his companies have 11—noting the advantages of its elevated platform and ability to hold more than 11,000 pounds.
More recently, Santos has expanded his businesses into abatement services and asbestos removal; MAXX is a licensed asbestos carrier. Likewise, Santos is growing into the “heavy haul” business, or the transport of heavy machinery over 45,000 pounds, such as excavators, bulldozers, generators and transformers.
“We’re multi-faceted, competitive and the turnaround is much shorter for us,” says Santos. “We can handle several different aspects for one particular job.”
This not only allows the company to stay afloat during more difficult economic times but affords it the opportunity to choose just the right projects.
“We don’t have to take everything that comes along,” Santos says. In fact, “we thrive off the thrill of conquering challenging tasks that other companies would hesitate to tackle.”
The son of a bricklayer, Santos has been in construction since age 12. He started out working with his father, then soon expanded into building houses, averaging one or two a summer while still in high school.
After briefly diverting into sales, he established his first restoration company at age 25. His office: A truck full of tools.
“My background in construction is pretty wide and varied,” Santos says. “I’ve done just about everything there is to do. I have a lot of common sense around construction because I’ve been exposed to so many different aspects of it.”
As such, he can troubleshoot and often foresee issues before they arise, he says. And when dealing with young engineers who are more book and classroom trained than on-the-job experienced, he can “bring the practical side to the equation,” he adds.
Santos’ longtime industry exposure was essential in starting MAXX North America Group in 2014: Over the years he became frustrated by the lack of connection between contractors and suppliers, and strove to create an integrated group of companies. His goal is to provide a sense of community in construction, changing the overall perception that it is fractured and cutthroat—even so, just don’t ask him about that proprietary rigging equipment.
And why does he enjoy what he does? “The satisfaction,” he replies. “Taking pride in what you do. It’s rewarding to look back at end of the day and see your progress, to feel like you accomplished something.”
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