In 1972, Ed Bryant brought the Uni-Stone paving stone to North America, a decision that was instrumental in the development of Canada’s hardscape industry. That paving stone was also the catalyst to the founding of Unilock — a leader in concrete interlocking paver stones for patios, retaining walls, walkways and more, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2022. Andrew Bryant, Unilock president and CEO, and son of late founder Ed Bryant, said: “Unilock was founded by my father, Ed, on the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship and strong partnerships set upon a foundation of integrity, trust and a unique family-oriented culture. “It all started with our first operation in Barrie, Ontario, where we made just 12 stones at a time and limited our focus to municipal and institutional projects. Now we have over 700 employees across 17 locations in six regional companies, have expanded our reach to include homeowners, and have manufactured millions of square feet of pavers. My father’s legacy will live on through our company and employees, our dealers, and the contractors, commercial specifiers and homeowners who continue to rely on our products to enhance outdoor living spaces. We have a lot in store for this year to mark our 50-year milestone and look forward to celebrating with our employees, partners and the industry.”Landscape Ontario magazine recently connected with Andrew Bryant to talk about what it means for Unilock to celebrate five decades in business.Andrew Bryant: We are all so grateful to hit such a significant milestone — and proud to look back over the past five decades and consider all we have accomplished. Over the years, we have helped pave the way for the hardscape industry, and while the company was founded in Ontario, we have achieved much success in the U.S. We didn’t do it alone. In addition to our Unilock team who have been committed to helping us set the gold standard for the hardscape industry in a safe and innovative way, we truly appreciate the important role played by the many partners we have worked with throughout the years. Together with them, we look forward to celebrating throughout 2022 and reflecting on how they have helped mould us into the company we are today — and will be in the future. Why has Unilock been able to sustain success for five decades? My father founded Unilock on a spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship and genuine partnerships. He coupled that spirit with a winning combination of people, products and plants, collaborating with others to ensure not only Unilock was successful, but dealers, contractors, commercial specifiers, raw material suppliers, equipment suppliers and others, were successful as well — we all win together. This is the torch that we carry forward as we build upon this foundation and look ahead to the next 50 years. In 1972, Ed brought the Uni-Stone paving stone to North America, kick-starting the hardscape industry that we know today. Back then, the focus was on commercial projects and heavy-duty applications where the utilitarian benefits of the UNI-Stone held an advantage. But, within a few years, Ed saw the opportunity reach beyond utility and into the residential market, with products that appealed to homeowners aesthetic desires. Today, the hardscapes industry within both the commercial and residential spaces has advanced into an outdoor living category — and lifestyle — driving the focus to be about artistry and beauty, along with quality and durability. Unilock is proud to be a driving force within the industry, having brought innovations like Face-mix technology, unique surface treatments like Umbriano® and ll Campo, and the patented U-Cara Multi-Face Wall System to market. Fifty years ago, we started with one shape and colour; today, we are proud to offer more than 200 paver and wall products and an array of over 200 colour options. As we look to the future, there are certainly a number of opportunities that will continue to shape the industry for our company. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has heightened the desire to have functional, beautiful and safe outdoor living spaces within the home. As the future continues to flow along with uncertainty, we expect investment in outdoor living to continue. Another trend to watch for is mechanization, which will allow for more automated installation methods that make the prospect of working in our industry more attractive to young people. As well, the future of concrete is leaning toward sustainability, with heavy focus on ease of maintenance via technologies that keep spaces looking great for longer, permeability in both commercial and residential applications, and reductions in carbon footprints. Bottom line: the hardscape industry in North America still has tremendous growth potential and we look forward to being a part of it. Unilock was founded on an appreciation of the power of entrepreneurial spirit, combined with a commitment to innovation, and genuine partnerships. The latter — strong partnerships, include associations like Landscape Ontario — that create connections to benefit the industry as a whole. Our industry needs a steady infusion of talent, professional development, training and continuing education and no one company can do it alone. Trade associations, like LO, can drive this, in addition to helping to make the hardscape industry an attractive career choice. In the end, everyone wins.