In our second of the “Vendor Spotlight” series, we meet Andy Brooks, the CEO of Waiward. Based in Edmonton, Waiward is a firm that supplies engineering, drafting, construction, and steel fabrication services for the industrial sector. Waiward supplies the steel used in many of the key components of the Heartland Complex. We spoke with Andy at Waiward’s fabrication plant, in November 2018.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Andy. Can you tell us about Waiward’s background in the industry?
A: Waiward has been around since 1972. The company was started by hard working entrepreneurs and was a smaller fabrication shop which has grown into what we are today with construction and maintenance services together with engineering and drafting and the largest fabrication shop west of Quebec.
Q: How many employees does Waiward have at the moment?
A: We're about 550 people which includes field personnel, our fabrication facility and our office.
Q: You’ve been in this industry for 20 years. What would you say is one of the largest or most significant changes you’ve noticed over your career?
A: I think one of the biggest changes has been around global procurement and technology. We all must be far more sophisticated, and our customers demand and deserve the best which means that we're scouring the world. This applies across all businesses within the sector. Now you must look at the global market place and prove your competitiveness in all areas including the supply chain, talent and technology.
Q: When you’re out speaking about business, or meeting people who may not be familiar with Waiward, what in particular do you feel is Waiward’s greatest asset?
A: People at the core of our business. We have a strategy in place and strong growth plans but without people at the core, you can throw the strategy away. I also talk about our fabrication facility being a tremendous competitive advantage to back up our construction services and our engineering and drafting expertise.
Q: Employee engagement is obviously front of mind with you.
A: Yes, absolutely! We have what I consider progressive action-oriented values that we use in every day decisions. We pride ourselves in not simply solving problems but creating solutions as we embrace change and move the company forward. There's a tremendous amount of pride and history here and I think that's tremendously important. We have our “creative” differences from time to time which allows us to move forward. We are a family and a team, and we will always be that way.
Q: In terms of the Heartland project for Inter Pipeline, how unique or significant is it to the company? Do you know if Waiward has worked on anything similar in the past?
A: No, we haven't. At least not to this extent. We look at this as a signature project for Waiward. We clearly know what it means to Inter Pipeline, but a lot of that is transferred over to us as well and I'm sure other contractors. You're involved in something that's unique and very special. That’s a great feeling and we are proud to be a partner and a part of an exceptional game changing initiative. So, it goes beyond the typical. The feeling of pride, creating something new and different, especially in this economic time, is fantastic. Fantastic for Inter Pipeline, great for Waiward, and I’m sure great for other contractors as well.
In our first “Vendor Spotlight,” we chat with Brian Purnell, the Director of Business Development for Dacro Industries. Dacro fabricated the HPC Splitter tower, which was successfully delivered to site on January 9, 2019. The Splitter is nearly the length of a CFL football field, weighs over 800 tons, and was the largest dimensional move in Alberta's history. We spoke with Brian shortly before the Splitter was scheduled to be moved.
(Photo below: Brian Purnell of Dacro. In the background is HPC's Splitter tower, laid on its side)
Q: Thanks for speaking with us, Brian. Can you tell us something about Dacro and what role the company plays in the industry?
A: Dacro’s been in business for 45 years, and we’re located in Edmonton, Alberta. Our reputation in the resource industry is based largely on our fabrication of process equipment and pressure vessels, and some of the structural items that support these builds (such as ladders and platforms).
Q: How many workers do you have at your facility?
A: Right now we have approximately 100 people on our staff.
Q: Let’s talk about the Polypropylene Splitter that Dacro has been building for Inter Pipeline. During the final stages of fabrication and preparation it took up your entire parking lot. It must be an attention grabber for people driving by.
A: Yes, we had people coming in off the street stopping in the parking lot and asking about it. There’s been a lot of curiosity and excitement around this vessel build.
Q: How long has this build taken Dacro?
A: The project took us about a year and a half to fabricate.
Q: Tell me a bit about the Splitter itself. What are some of the highlights of this build?
A: This PP Splitter is about the length of a football field, and weighs more than 800 tonnes. The main material used in the construction was carbon steel. Because of the sheer size of this vessel, we constructed most of it inside our facility, but then we moved it outside to complete it, which is not something we usually have to do.
Q: There’s been a lot of media around the resource sector in Alberta, and a lot of the conversation has been around the challenges that the industry is facing right now. What does a project like the Heartland Petrochemical Complex mean to a company like Dacro?
A: Inter Pipeline’s decision to go forward on this project has been a great vote of confidence in our industry, and Dacro is proud to be a part of the build. From a company level view, we’re really happy to be able to apply our expertise and supply the project with this splitter vessel. We hope the situation continues to improve for our industry, so that we have the opportunity to do more work of this kind.
Q: How would you characterize your relationship with Inter Pipeline on this project?
A: This was the first project I’ve been involved with in Inter Pipeline, and we’ve had a really good experience with everyone associated with the Heartland Petrochemical Complex project. It’s all been really positive.
Q: Is there one memory from this build that you recall especially?
A: There are many, but I’d say the feeling of pride that everyone at Dacro has with this build is something I’ll always remember. Being able to work on a project like this, using Albertan expertise makes it that much more rewarding.
Q: One last question – you’ve lived with this massive structure for a year now. Will a part of you be sorry to see the Splitter go when it gets moved out?
A: Well, I know we’ll be glad to get the parking lot back… but yes, there will be a bit of mixed feelings when it leaves. Dacro has been really happy to have been chosen by Inter Pipeline to supply this important piece of the build, and we’re looking forward to seeing the Heartland Petrochemical Complex continue to move forward. It’s been our pleasure to have played a part in this historic project.