Dennis Wager is the director of a rock breaking and demolition company, Apex Rock Breaking Solutions in Canada and President of Apex Rock Pros USA in the US. He is a trusted industry expert with over 25 years of experience working in demolition and rock breaking. As director of his own company, he trains other industry professionals and is involved in large-scale projects across North America. He believes in innovating through research and applied science along with hands-on experience. Dennis is passionate about industry change and reducing environmental impact through using green products and sharing ideas, knowledge and working together.
With a head office located in Vancouver, BC, Apex Rock Breaking Solutions has created innovative solutions in their industry, from expanding grout to low impact explosives. These products while beneficial in sensitive environments are still powerful in getting the job done. Contractors across Canada and the United States depend on tools and services provided by Apex Rock Pros to assist with their day to day work, including homebuilders, tunnelling contractors, stone suppliers, and those working in the oil, gas or mining industries.
Q. What is your number one goal to accomplish this year?
My goal was to relaunch business in the USA in 2022 – and we did just that in January! When the pandemic hit in 2020, it did pose some major challenges for expansion. But now we have a new warehouse in Ferndale, WA and we are planning to open another location in South Carolina later this year.
My next goal is to open a location in either Northern California or Las Vegas, which will allow us to really cover all corners of the United States and Canada.
Q. What do you have going on right now you’d like to share?
Right now we have been focusing on business development across Canada. We have a business development manager located in Ontario who has been working on increasing our dealer locations in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
We are also getting more involved in working on environmentally sensitive jobs, like underwater rock and concrete breaking, blasting and opening up river blockages after landslides. Difficult jobs inside or under buildings and sensitive areas where blasting simply isn’t an option.
We are also in the lab developing 2 new products which will revolutionize the way expanding grout jobs are done possibly around the world making it easier to get rock removal done and allow the building process to take place faster. Saving time and money.
I’m really excited to share that this month I’m heading to The Phantom Ranch, located in the very bottom of the Grand Canyon. Here we will be using our expanding grout systems to make way for a pipeline that is being installed. This is a highly sensitive job; no blasting is allowed here due to the highly sensitive location of the pipeline. This is a great job for us so it’s very exciting to be working on something like this.
Q. What is your favourite thing about your career?
I get to work on so many amazing job sites with some incredible people. For example, we recently were involved in the Lake Isabella Dam project in California to help blast huge boulders 12’ x 25’ and shot 22 of them at a time. It was impressive; this led to the US Army Corp of Engineers approving our Royex and expanding grout products!
I had no idea what was possible when I first started out in this business, and it’s an incredible feeling to excel in your field that you are passionate about. You just have to say yes to opportunities that is thrown your way and figure out how to do it along the way. Over time, with perseverance and hard work, things evolve and develop. You have struggles and failures, but when you keep pushing through and doing the work, it can mean that one day, people will call you the expert!
And that has been my experience. I have trained scientists, professors, engineers… the army even flew me down to Mississippi to train some of their top blasters! It’s an exciting world to work in and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
I truly believe that your strength is in the people that you have behind you. Mentorship and training builds a team of people that you can always count on. In this industry, you need to count on people, as you put a lot of trust in other peoples hands.
Q. What is your number one priority in your daily work and life?
To take time for yourself. When you run your own business, you can get caught up in working long hours. But it’s so important to give yourself time to rest and recharge – it’s the best way to ensure you keep excelling rather than burning out!
Q. Do you have a mantra or phrase you live by?
Steve Jobs said: “Creativity is just connecting things.” This is something I live and work by. I know that anything you want to do, you can do, by simply breaking it down and taking it step by step. When it seems like things are overwhelming, just break it down and connect the dots.
There’s also an old saying I’ve always looked to, about having the right tool for the job. Having multiple tools in the toolbox allows you to pick the right one.
I also live by the words: “It’s OK to fail.”
You need to allow yourself the grace of failing so you can learn from that in order to forge ahead. Failures are just lessons to help you move forward. So you should never be afraid of failing.
With great risk comes great reward – putting yourself out there and trying is the first step to finding your way to success…
“Sometimes you have to throw your hat over the fence, and then figure out how to go pick it up.”