British Columbia-based oil and energy provider Epscan Industries is a family company with a unique structure that allows it to offer expertise and resources like a major industrial contactor, while maintaining a small business, personal level of service.
Epscan’s Director of Business Development and Co-Owner Shane Stirling holds Canadian Red Seal certification in four trades, is active in the development of skilled trades training locally, provincially and federally, and is a previous Director of the Industry Training Authority in British Columbia. Mr Stirling lives in Fort St. John, BC, with his wife and son and is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for downhill skiing, personal growth, and developing people and businesses. Here Mr Stirling discusses the range of services offered by the company, the oil and energy industry’s need to train new skilled tradespeople, and Epscan’s long term plans for growth and development.
Oil & Energy
“Epscan is a contract service provider,” Mr Stirling says. “We provide a range of Electrical & Instrumentation [E&I] services, various pumps and material supply from of our large in-house inventory; and we’ve been doing it for over 40 years.”
The company services a number of industries, including upstream and midstream natural gas production, municipality services, commercial construction, potable and waste water, as well as offering pump-related services such as chemical injection solutions.
“In E&I, we’re a service provider. We do new construction of greenfield projects and any additional brownfield expansions clients want to do. For the oil and gas sector that’s building well sites and adding equipment into existing compressor and processing stations; from the municipality side, it’s building and maintaining water plants and municipal facilities.”
The company also has a communications division, which provides both mobile & stationary radio communication and fiber optic services. We also offer programming of Programmable Logic Controllers and other Automation devices.
“It’s a second-generation family business,” Mr Stirling explains. “My father started it in 1978 and I worked as a kid after school cleaning trucks, cleaning the shop, sweeping the floors – after I graduated High School I moved into the Trades Training program and a couple of decades later, here I am, running the company alongside my brother, Dustin.”
Being a family-owned business, Epscan Industries is committed to quality and customer service. The service it offers customers is considered one of the company’s key differentiating qualities, setting it apart from its competitors.
“If someone calls us and they need us to go and pick up a part for them on a Sunday, we’re going to go and deal with that, and make sure that client is taken care of. Whereas if you’re part of a larger organization, you don’t quite have that personal level of care.”
Additionally, the company strongly promotes the Trades Training programs, both provincially and federally, to make sure that the labor pool of skilled trade is available to them for the future.
“The fact is that we have an aging population in skilled trades. The baby boomers have been slowly moving into retirement, but as different events happen within the world, they’ve been extending their retirement dates. All that does is compound the issue, and later on we are going to have a massive amount of people leaving the workforce.”
This means there are gaps in the industry that need to be filled with skilled, trained individuals. Looking at current demographics, however, there just aren’t the numbers in Canada to replace those that have left.
“Even if all of the young people that are coming out of High School moved into the Trades Training programs, we don’t have enough to backfill that space and to supply the growth. So somehow, we need to develop solutions for this labor shortage.”
With the energy industry in western Canada getting busier– in the form of natural gas as a green energy solution, and particularly with the growth of alternative energies such as solar and wind – those new people will have to be found in order to push the country forward.
“We’re currently branching out,” Mr Stirling says of the company’s growth plans. “We’ve just opened a brand new branch in Grand Prairie Alberta, so we’re interested in Alberta and their markets there.”
The company is also watching some longer term oil pipeline projects, such as the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Alberta to the coast of BC, which should have a significant effect on oil production in the region.
“We are also watching what’s happening on the coast of British Columbia, with the building of the LNG Canada terminal, which is going to drive growth. It’s looking like we’re going to see an upswing in the energy industry in general, and we’ll grow with that swing.”
The biggest lesson the company has learned in recent times is the importance of finding the appropriate partners to implement significant changes in the company. This was made apparent during the recent decision to upgrade internal software independently, which proved a difficult process without an appropriate partnership.
“For anyone out there that’s looking at bringing anything new or switching anything in their company, they should really look at finding an implementation partner that they can work with to make sure that they’re getting what they want, and that when they do the transition, the connections and training are made properly.”
With a wide range of services and a commitment to a personal level of customer service, Epscan Industries is set to keep growing across Western Canada. Find out more about Epscan Industries by visiting www.epscan.com.