Founded in 1984, Western Refractory Services Ltd. is celebrating its 30-year legacy of on-time, skilled and innovative work.
Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Western Refractory Services was founded to provide reliable refractory service offerings that range from installation of ceramic fiber products to chemical-proof tiles and membranes to industrial chimney and flare stack inspections. But it’s not the service offerings alone that make Western Refractory Services unique– it’s the way they go about it.
“Western Refractories provides turnkey services from planning, through engineering and right to dryout,” the company states. “Communication and responsibility lines are simple and effective.”
This above-and-beyond attitude the company approaches each job with is a major point of pride within Western Refractory Services, according to General Manager Scott Dragon.
“Our turnkey services are specific to shut downs where we can offer projects management, design, and engineering, as well as procurement and execution of all refractory scope and applicable sub-trades through subcontractors,” Dragon said. “So, we can look after the whole entire shutdown if that's what the customer chooses.”
According to Dragon, this all-encompassing, thorough approach is something competitors lack.
“We're not exclusive to any of our vendors,” Dragon explained. “So we start from the design phase and design aligning and utilize the best materials from numerous vendors.”
Value in Employees
With only 13 office staff and approximately 150 field workers, the company is one that puts emphasis on their employees that get the job done. Dragon started as a warehouse employee while he was attending school. Eventually he became a sales account manager before working in the field as a construction manager– the job that he held before his current role.
This story of an employee moving consistently up through the ranks of the company is not unique to Dragon. According to him, Western Refractory Services regularly seeks to “mix the young with the old.”
“As our client base evolves, we like to keep up with the trends by hiring young engineers that are graduating from school to work with our experienced first generation refractory group,” Dragon said. “I'm sure that we have a future moving forward having employees that can stick around for another 20 or 30 years.”
With a position of interest and respect for every employee that joins the company, Dragon said Western Refractory boasts a very low turnover rate. That’s important when a company invests in its workers as much as Western.
“An outstanding safety record has been achieved through the dedication of our staff, supervisors, and employees,” the company states. “We are committed to being safety leaders in our industry, through training, communication, and pro-activity.”
Through that safety training, Western Refractory Services earned the Alberta Best Safety Performer award in 2007– an award that is presented to less than .5 percent of all Alberta employers.
A Growing Legacy
With drawers full of various recognitions that the company has received over the years, it would be easy for Western Refractory Services to rest on its laurels. However, the company is constantly improving. The company recently doubled the size of its rigging fleet and added two more units to its shotcreting fleet.
“We're still looking at [modernizing] some of our equipment and increasing the size of our fleet,” Dragon said. “We’re turning over old equipment and making sure that we have the state-of-the-art equipment.”
With the most modern technology and one of the most comprehensive lists of service offerings in Western Canada, it’s not difficult to see how Western Refractory Services made it to the 30-year mark.
“[It’s taken] long hours, hard work and loyalty from our customers,” Dragon said. “The effort from all our staff has been a big part of that.”