Stettler Oil and Gas has seen appreciable growth in recent months, and it appears the period of growth isn’t finished. Construction has just begun on a 10,000-square-foot shop, which is expected to be completed by the fall.
“(The growth) has exceeded what we were expecting,” said Tom Braun, general manager for the past three and a half years.
When Stettler Oil and Gas, in business in Stettler for the past 10 years, moved to the vacated Enerflex complex last September, the company had 42 employees. Now, the operation employs 115 people, and the target is 165 employees by the end of this year.
Last October, the company added a hydro-vac truck manufacturing division.
“It has exploded for us,” Braun said. “It is driving a third of the growth.”
Hydro-vac trucks are sold not only to the oil and gas sector, but one-third of sales go to municipalities.
When asked what prompted the expansion in Stettler, Braun said the company had outgrown its former facilities, the industry was starting to get busy again and Stettler Oil and Gas needed work bays that were physically larger to handle bigger projects.
“The Enerflex building had sat vacant for three years and the purchase was good value for the dollar,” he said “It is also more cost-effective to do business in Stettler than Calgary.”
Stettler Oil and Gas is owned by Foremost Universal Limited Partnership. Besides Stettler, the group has manufacturing businesses in Grande Prairie, Edmonton, Bonnyville, two in Lloydminster and three in Calgary.
Braun said the expansion and diversification have given the company the stability it needs to withstand the ups and downs of the economy.
About one-third of the company is devoted to each of oil and gas processing equipment, hydro-vac trucks and compression equipment. Stettler is presently picking up the slack from the Calgary location on compression manufacturing. Since building is more cost-effective in Stettler, Braun believes that trend is likely to continue.
According to Braun, the first increase in staffing was relatively easy to achieve, but he anticipates the next increase — of another 50 employees — will be more difficult.
The company has planned a job fair for July 21 in Stettler in hopes of attracting trades workers to fill positions as welders, electricians, pipefitters, truck assemblers and apprentices in the various trades.
Stettler Oil and Gas has leased about 3,500 square feet of its complex to Campus Alberta for a postsecondary education facility. Braun plans to utilize the campus for training staff.
“It will be a good fit in the longterm,” Braun said.
Stettler Oil and Gas markets its products in western Canada, the U.S. and other international markets. The oil and gas processing equipment is sold primarily in western Canada, with a few sales to the U.S. and overseas.
The compression equipment sees more international sales to places like Mexico and Australia.
Currently, about 85 per cent of the Hydro-vac trucks are sold in Canada, with the other 15 per cent selling to the U.S.
“The U.S. is a real growth market,” said Braun, who sees potential for substantial growth to the U.S. market. “Hydro-vac use in the U.S. is 10 years behind us.”
Braun noted the first increase in staff brought several employees from out-of-province to Stettler. He also said Stettler has “a lot to offer,” so the company hopes other employees will choose Stettler to relocate with their families for the job opportunities Stettler Oil and Gas is offering.