Our New Product Introduction Manager, Simon Lester has been featured in this month’s Irrigation Leader magazine, you can read the article, below!

Simon Lester Irrigation Leader Cover

Concrete Canvas has a new solution to eliminate seepage loss: a flexible, concrete-filled fabric that hardens on hydration to form a thin, durable, waterproof, and lower-carbon concrete layer. In this interview, Simon Lester, Concrete Canvas’s new product introduction manager, introduces CCX, the company’s next-generation roll-it, lay-it, and spray-it solution that allows customers to line their own canal or ditch in a day.

Simon CCX

Irrigation Leader: Please tell us about your background and how you came to be in your current position.

Simon Lester: I was born in Cape Town, South Africa, where my father worked as an accountant for 50 years. Having attended school and university in South Africa, I got my undergraduate in psychology and geography. I then spent a couple of years traveling overseas, teaching English in Taiwan and backpacking through Southeast Asia. While backpacking, I decided to go back to university to get a civil engineering degree. After graduating in 2005, I went into construction, working predominantly on concrete structures for highways in Swaziland. In 2010, I was looking for an alternative for a canal lining project we were bidding on in Swaziland when I came across an advertisement for Concrete Canvas. I flew to the UK and met William Crawford and Peter Brewin, the inventors and owners of Concrete Canvas. I immediately fell in love with the product and became a distributor for Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Zambia.

At this stage, I was focusing predominantly on using Concrete Canvas for the lining of irrigation canals on sugar estates. These estates had a mixture of unlined and geomembrane- or concrete-lined canals. Working with these clients on a number of initial projects provided me with the opportunity to understand the requirements and challenges irrigators face on a day-to-day basis. In those days, Concrete Canvas was a new technology in Africa as well as globally, so competing with traditional lining techniques in the irrigation sector was tough. It didn’t work out at that stage, but I stayed affiliated with Concrete Canvas, and in 2015, Mr.Crawford and Mr.Brewin offered me a job as the business development manager for subSaharan Africa. I started that role in 2016 and have been with the company ever since. In 2020, I took on my current role as new product introduction manager for CCX, our next-generation product, and I emigrated to the UK with my wife and three sons to take up a position at our head office just outside Cardiff in Wales.

Simon CC Sales Partner Meet

Irrigation Leader: Please introduce Concrete Canvas.

Simon Lester: Concrete Canvas was developed out of a master’s thesis by William Crawford and Peter Brewin. They were looking for a cementitious product that essentially mimicked the performance of a plaster of Paris bandage. Initially, Concrete Canvas was used to create rapidly deployable inflatable shelters that could be used in war-torn or disaster-stricken areas. The shelters were designed to be inflated and then sprayed with a Concrete Canvas surface that cured in position. Within 24 hours, they were habitable. Mr. Crawford and Mr. Brewin quickly realized, though, that the shelter skin had much greater potential in erosion-control applications such as lining ditches and protecting slopes. In 2009, Concrete Canvas became commercially available on an industrial scale. It was initially manufactured in Pontypridd, in South Wales, but as demand has grown, we’ve had to increase production capacity, resulting in a move to our current premises in Pontyclun. Today, nearly 90 percent of our products are exported around the world to some 80 countries. Our core applications are ditch and canal lining, slope protection, the remediation of existing concrete infrastructure, weed suppression, and secondary containment applications.

CCX Installation in the US

Irrigation Leader: How long have you been operating in the United States?

Simon Lester: Our U.S. company officially opened in Houston in 2021. We used to operate on a purely distribution basis, with several distributors across the country covering different territories and sectors. Melanie Fuhrman is the general manager of Concrete Canvas USA and heads up a great in-country team covering sales, technical matters, and logistics.

Simon at the CCUSA Partner Meet

Irrigation Leader: Please tell us about your CCX products.

Simon Lester: Concrete Canvas is a flexible, concrete-filled fabric that hardens on hydration to form a durable, waterproof concrete layer. The concrete hard-armoring provides the strength and protection functionality, while the geomembrane backing provides the waterproofing functionality. The product that we predominantly use for lining canals in irrigation applications is called CCX. In one application, it provides what would typically require multiple products or component applications in the field. This is fundamental to a lot of our clients, especially in the irrigation sector, because they have limited time during the off-season to implement a lining solution or remediate existing canals. The product comes in a prefabricated roll. You pull it off the roll, lay it, cut it with a utility knife or rotary cutter, fix it place, and spray it with water. Within a day, you have a usable lining solution. It’s quick and simple to install, and it doesn’t require skilled labor, allowing most irrigators the option to do it themselves. CCX has a minimum lifespan of 50 years and is cost competitive with traditional lining solutions.

Simon installing CCX

Irrigation Leader: How thick is CCX?

Simon Lester: CCX-M, used for canal lining, is 0.4 inches thick, with the addition of a 12-mil linear low-density polyethylene geomembrane backing. CCX-M is typically used to replace 2–4 inches of cast-in-situ concrete, shotcrete, or precast concrete elements, with or without a geomembrane underlay. The stock roll length is 164 feet long by 6.3 feet wide, equating to approximately 1,000 square feet per roll.

Irrigation Leader: Please tell us about your pilot projects in irrigation districts around the western United States.

Simon Lester: The western United States, like many places around the world, is facing acute water shortages. It is becoming critical to mitigate water seepage, which, in addition to reducing water supply and revenue, can cause waterlogging, increase the salinity of adjacent soils, or pose risks to infrastructure next to canals. We’ve just completed pilot projects for irrigation districts in California, Colorado, Nebraska, and Washington aimed at eliminating these issues. For example, in California, we completed the lining of a lateral canal that was approximately 1,500 feet long and 16 feet wide in less than 4 days. The CCX-M joints were thermally bonded to provide a low-permeability lining solution. A pond test was then conducted, and based on the measured seepage losses, the client has expressed their satisfaction with the performance of the pilot and is now considering Concrete Canvas as an alternative to their current solutions.

Irrigation Leader: What should every irrigation district know about Concrete Canvas?

Simon Lester: Concrete Canvas is a rapid, cost-effective, lower-carbon, and longer-lasting alternative to conventional liners and has variants designed specifically for the lining of irrigation canals. It allows irrigation districts to conserve water, reduce installation and maintenance costs, and self-perform. We are well positioned in the United States and globally to support irrigators and ensure successful project execution.

Irrigation Leader Magazine is available here.

DSC8939We are delighted to share the exciting news of the recent visit to the United Kingdom by the Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers (Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan), His Excellency Akylbek Zhaparov. This inaugural visit marked a significant step in strengthening bilateral ties between Kyrgyzstan and the UK, focusing on collaboration and exploration of innovative opportunities.

The highlight of Prime Minister Zhaparov’s visit was a special trip to the heart of innovation at Concrete Canvas, a first of its kind.


Will Crawford, Co-Director of Concrete Canvas, expressed his gratitude and excitement, stating, “An absolute privilege to help host the delegation from Kyrgyzstan this morning at the Concrete Canvas headquarters and factory in Wales. We wish the Prime Minister and his delegation every success on the rest of their visit to the UK.”


The visit began on a positive note, with Ian Woodcock, Co-Founder of United Concrete Canvas, commending the high-level delegation’s commitment and enthusiasm. “I can personally confirm that the high-level delegation got off to an excellent start at Concrete Canvas in Wales this morning. Top marks to the delegation who, after an all-night flight, went straight to work in great spirits in Wales. An immense pleasure to meet them all,” Woodcock shared.


Concrete Canvas is renowned for its innovative solutions that combine cement with fabric technology, providing sustainable and efficient construction alternatives. The visit by Prime Minister Zhaparov and his delegation exemplifies the global interest in cutting-edge technologies and solutions that can address the evolving challenges of infrastructure development.

Kyrgyzstan PM Visit

This collaborative exchange serves as a testament to the commitment of both nations to fostering innovation and exploring opportunities for mutual growth. The willingness of the Kyrgyzstani delegation to engage in substantive discussions and hands-on experiences, even after a long journey, underscores the importance they place on establishing meaningful partnerships.

Demo Park PM Visit

As the delegation continues its visit to the UK, we anticipate the exploration of further opportunities for collaboration in various sectors. Concrete Canvas, with its dedication to innovation and sustainability, stands as a symbol of the UK’s expertise and willingness to share knowledge on a global scale.

Kyrgyzstan PM Demo Park Tour

The visit of Prime Minister Zhaparov to Concrete Canvas in Wales is a milestone in the diplomatic relations between Kyrgyzstan and the United Kingdom, reflecting the shared commitment to progress through innovation. We look forward to witnessing the positive outcomes and lasting partnerships that may emerge from this historic visit.

Kyrgyzstan PM Leaving CC

Concrete Canvas are proud to announce that it has been nominated as the finalist in the 2022 South Wales Business Growth Awards for THREE categories.

  • Innovation
  • Brand
  • Environmental

The Business Growth Awards celebrate the efforts that South Wales businesses have achieved to shape the local community.

Thank you to all our staff for all your continued hard work and dedication to support our growth. Thank you to all the contractors, clients and consultants who trust us in providing the right product for hundreds of ongoing global projects, from public works to utilities and mining.

The results will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on Friday 4th March 2022.

Concrete Canvas are proud to share that we have been announced as the Regional winner of the Chamber Business Awards 2021 for The Game Changer Award. The Welsh Chamber have chosen Concrete Canvas as the Entrepreneur of the Year for the development and commercialisation of our innovative range of low carbon, time-saving, construction materials. We are delighted to be put forward for the National prize for which the winners will be announced during the virtual ceremony on the 9th December 2021.

Once again, we’d like to thank everyone for their continued work and support.


Concrete Canvas are excited to announce that we have been nominated for The Game Changer award by the Chamber of Commerce. We have received this nomination for transforming an idea into a successful, sustainable business by understanding the market’s key challenges, customers, and the competitive landscape.

Regional winners will be announced on the 8th November 2021 with National winners being announced at the virtual awards ceremony on the 9th December 2021.

We would like to thank all our staff, partners, clients, contractors and consultants for the continued work and support that has gone into Concrete Canvas.

Please keep posted as we will be updating all our channels as soon as we receive more great news to share.

All natural slopes are subject to continuous erosion forces. Whether the slope has been recently formed as part of development, or is in its original natural state, some form of erosion protection may be required. Many traditional solutions are costly, or require specialist equipment or labour to install.

Find out how CC can be used as an erosion control slope protection solution in our latest newsletter.

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