EDMONTON, Alta. – Tremcar West is steering its company forward through Alberta’s uncertain economic waters, opening a brand new, expanded service facility in Edmonton, Alta.
The family-owned manufacturer and servicer of tank trailers held a grand opening event Nov. 4 at its new location in northeast Edmonton, and the company is hoping the larger facility will mean better and greater services for its customers.
“It was not easy to find a building to fit our size and needs, and we decided to make our home building here,” Tremcar president and owner Jacques Tremblay said of the Edmonton location. “Here we realize (that) we could start a service center to be closer to the customers, to give them support when they need it.”
Prior to Tremcar’s move to its new locality – a facility the company owns and invested $12 million into – it had rented a much smaller building about 10 minutes away. With around 68 current employees (close to 800 company-wide) at its Edmonton site, Tremcar will be hiring more to help staff the 10-acre spot.
“It’s over three times the size of what we had, and that’s because of customer demand,” said John Sadoway, general manager of the Edmonton location, who added that the new facility boasts 11 bays compared to the four they had prior (with one of the bays having to be used for offices and parts, leaving them only three to repair equipment).
“One of the biggest things was that in a three-bay facility we were turning down work. We just didn’t have the room, we couldn’t get enough people into the building,” Sadoway said. “We’ve got a great staff and great people, but there was only so much we could do. That was part of the reason why Mr. Tremblay thought it was a great idea to invest in Edmonton, because it is a hub, it’s a busy economy for what we do. I don’t see any problems filling this facility with equipment to be worked on.”
Sadoway added that each of the 11 bays could hold two sets of equipment, one on each side, so depending on how you looked at it, Tremcar could say it has 22 total bays at its new shop.
Although one might question Tremcar’s decision, not only to relocate and invest in a facility, but also expand during what some believe to be a downturn in the Alberta and Canadian economies, Tremblay said Albertans have been down this road before.
“This is nothing new under the sun. There is some downturn and we’ve seen this in the past,” Tremblay said, adding that he estimates there to be around 15,000 trailers hauling crude in the province today, and that they will always need to be maintained and repaired.
“Oil is still producing and trailers are still on the road. One day they will be older and they will need maintenance. We don’t have any problem serving the market here and we are very confident (in the future). I don’t have a crystal ball, but sometime down the road, it’s going to turn around.”
Tremcar West’s vice-president Darren Williams agreed.
“We inspect, test and repair everybody’s trailers, not just our own,” Williams said. “Hopefully at some point the sales (of new tanks) will drive the service…they kind of go together.”
Although he said crude oil sales are presently very soft, business was not too bad in other areas.
“Luckily, Tremcar is diversified enough that we make milk tankers and chemical trailers. If we were solely crude oil and petroleum we’d be dying right now.”
Transport Canada mandates that all tankers transporting dangerous goods must be inspected every year to avoid any leaks or damage.
Tremcar had been selling and servicing products in Alberta long before the company had a presence in the Wild Rose province, but with its recent investment into its own facility, fervour about the business’s future in the west has grown.
“With this (new facility) it’s showing that Tremcar is here to stay,” said Williams. “Now (customers) see that Tremcar has a vested interest in what happens in Alberta.”
Sadoway believes Tremcar has hit the nail right on the head with its new location.
“Collectively we did this one right…from previous history and past experience,” he said. “This wasn’t an easy process. This started out with drives in the country to figure out where can we go, where can we service people, where do we need to be? We didn’t find this place in a day. Location was really big.
“We found a location that is centralized to our customers.”
That locale is about to get even better, as Edmonton Ward 4 councillor Ed Gibbons pointed out in his speech during the grand opening, saying that current construction of the Anthony Henday highway was expected to be complete in the next year, meaning access to Tremcar’s Edmonton site would get even easier.
Gibbons also highlighted that the Edmonton area continues to grow at rapid pace, seeing an additional 30,000 added to its population just last year, and that Tremcar would help contribute to the ongoing prosperity of the area.
“The energy sector is key to the prosperity of Canada,” Tremblay added. “What’s good for the west is good for the east.”
During his grand opening speech, Tremblay attributed much of his success to what he learned from former Alberta premier Ralph Klein, saying the late-politician taught him a lot about politics and business and that he would be missed.
The Tremblay family purchased Tremcar in 1990, which was originally founded in 1962 by Alde and Leo Tougas, a pair of welders who began by manufacturing tankers to transport milk between the farms and dairies in Quebec.
The company has come a long way since the ’60s, as it is now the largest family-owned semi-trailer manufacturer in North America, and the fourth largest overall.
“I can tell you right now that this is probably the nicest tank shop in all of Western Canada,” Williams proclaimed. “We have everything that a production facility would have, and it’s a service facility.”
And on the significance of being family owned?
“The reason people should care about that is because the family cares,” said Williams. “You don’t end up with 800 employees working for you if you’re just an accountant. It’s the attitude of how people are treated, like family members, and the customers can see that in the quality of the equipment and how they are being treated. It rolls down the hill straight from the top with Mr. Tremblay.”
Tremcar’s Edmonton location is its largest service facility, and though they do not manufacture tanks at that site, the company does sell trailers from the location and services all types of equipment.
And the company seems to have discovered the right recipe for success in business.
“The key to being successful in business,” Tremblay said, “is people.”
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