Q&A with DRE’s Marla Cosburn

As a continuation of our #FeelingInspired series, we are continuing to spotlight incredible women who have accomplished a tremendous amount in their experiences. This week, we are sharing stories from Marla Cosburn, President of DRE Industries Inc.

Video by: Natasha Zimin

DRE is a female-owned and led supplier of high-quality construction products. DRE offers a full range of products for both new construction and restoration projects including: below-grade waterproofing, clear penetrating sealers, anti-graffiti coatings, corrosion inhibitors, expansion joints, urethane traffic membranes, epoxy flooring, epoxy terrazzo, underslab vapour barriers and curtain injection.

  • What does a day in the life of Marla Cosburn look like?

Every day is different.  It could be presentations to an ownership or design team to develop waterproofing strategies for a new project or doing terrazzo design sessions creating custom samples. I could be on-site doing pre-construction meetings, reviewing complicated site conditions, or working with consultants to provide solutions for existing buildings that have water or corrosion issues.  I love the fast-paced nature of working in construction and the interesting projects I get to work on.   It’s amazing to see a project come to life.

  • What are some of your favourite projects?

I love different projects for different reasons.

The Well has been a fun project as it was the largest excavation in North America at one time – an entire city block.  The team used our Ultraseal below-grade waterproofing membrane,  Willseal expansion joints and our Terroxy Terrazzo flooring.

The Revitalization of Union Station is another amazing project – the fact that they created 2 stories of sub-basement while the train station was fully operational was incredible and that the design team selected Coreflex to waterproofing this critical space was an honour.  That project also won the inaugural SWA Trillium Award so that was fun!

Union Station

Also, The Senate of Canada Building in Ottawa,  where they renovated and added on to an existing heritage train station to serve as the interim home of the Senate. Coreflex was used to waterproof that critical space.   These high-profile projects that are extremely complicated with critical space in the basement are really interesting.

And then there are the Terrazzo projects!   We are lucky to partner with some of the top Terrazzo contractors in the country and the work they do is incredible. We have numerous TTMAC award-winning projects that are amazing like the medallion at Seneca College CITE that pays tribute to Indigenous culture, The Hockey Hall of Fame’s World of Hockey  Exhibit and the new Bermuda Airport.  We recently wrapped up beautiful floors at the Drake Hotel’s new modern wing and The Webster, which also has a spectacular art deco pink Terrazzo staircase!

The Webster
  • What piece of advice would you give other females starting out in a position like yours?

Ask a lot of questions and listen. Learn as much as you can from everyone you meet; everyone has unique experiences that you can learn from. Find your niche, figure out what differentiates you, study your product so that you know it better than anyone else. Be clear on who your customer is and what their needs are. Get involved in as many industry associations that interest you. Attend the meetings, volunteer to help with events or committees – get involved!  It is a great way to meet people, network and learn.

  • What is your biggest takeaway as a business owner?

The real measure for me is knowing that I gave it my all, worked smartly, dealt fairly with people and in a small way, contributed to improving our industry sector.

 If you would’ve chosen a different career path, what would it have been and why?

It would be in sales – that is for sure.  I’d love to be a wine dealer – working with wineries from around the world, meeting the winemakers, telling their stories and planning events and tastings.

Do you have a favourite wine?

I like a California Cabernet or a nice Pinot Noir.