Pipeline manufacturer Westlake Industries has found a way to weather the ups and downs in the cyclical nature of the energy business.
Like countless other North American manufacturers, Westlake Industries has had its share of ups and downs coinciding with the state of the economy at any given time. However, by maintaining a philosophy of transparency with clients at all costs, the pipeline fabricator and installer with headquarters in Burlington, Ontario, and an office in Fort McMurray, Alberta, has weathered the storms that have come during its 10 years in operation.
“We have learned to roll with the punches,” says Rick Westlake, president and founder of Westlake Industries. “We are quite proud of the fact that we have earned a great deal of respect from our customers and project owners with the quality of our product and our ability to react quickly to assist our customers in getting their investments operational.”
Although Westlake launched his namesake company in December 2005, he personally boasts 40 years of experience in field construction and shop operations in the natural gas pipeline, compressor station, nuclear construction, automotive, petrochemical and industrial sectors. Before founding
Westlake Industries, Westlake had designed and implemented a number of fabrication facilities startups, along with nuclear, quality, gas pipeline and petrochemical construction and fabrication programs. He currently serves as the chairman of the Canadian Pipe Fabricators Association and trustee of the UA Canadian and International Training Trust Fund.
Westlake Industries’ projects can range from a few thousand dollars to over $50 million.
“Each project, regardless of the value, is unique and has to be treated with the same diligence and respect, as each dollar we spend on behalf of our clients is very important to them,” Westlake says. “Westlake Industries is extremely proud of the relationships we have developed during our first 10 years of business. We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to interact at all levels of the supply chain, working directly with the owners, owners’ engineers, EPCM [engineering, procurement and construction management] and general contractors, depending on the project strategies.”
Westlake Industries often works as a supplier and a client with the same company, and with the first decade of operations, the company has developed long-term master services and supplier-of-choice agreements with numerous clients.
“We focus our efforts on ensuring that our clients want to do business again and again,” Westlake says.
Piping in Convenience
According to Westlake, the most prevalent trend his company is addressing is clients’ needs to minimize risk. These clients will turn to companies like Westlake Industries to take advantage of improved productivity manufacturing plants.
“Many of our clients are looking for innovative solutions through modularization to deliver components to the project in what can be in some cases described as a plug-and-play project,” Westlake says. “Planning and scheduling is fundamental to any project, regardless of its size or complexity.
“Keeping the day-to-day processes as simple as possible doesn’t sound like a unique strategy, but it is quite uncommon,” Westlake adds.
Along with modularization of its systems, Westlake Industries has been working with Gator Sales Ltd. on the development of a new abrasive-resistant, polyuria-lined piping system. The Gator-Skin system provides a seamless, monolithic membrane designed to withstand high abrasive and corrosive environments prevalent in the oil, gas and mining industries.
“We have been very successful with our initial trials in fine tailings applications and are very excited with the results to date,” Westlake says. “The Gator-Skin lined piping system is designed to provide major savings to our clients with reduced maintenance cost.”
No matter the project, Westlake Industries has the appropriate certification to handle the job. When the company opened its fabrication shop in 2006, it soon earned the Canadian Welding Bureau’s W47.1 and W59, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and National Board, and Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) B31.1 and B31.3. In 2010, Westlake Industries achieved ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Services 18001 accreditations, as well as the COR certification for its safety program.
In early 2015, the company expanded its services to include assembly and site installation out of its Ontario and Alberta locations through approvals from TSSA and the Alberta Boilers Safety Association.
“Westlake Industries has nine core values that center specifically around customer satisfaction, the pursuit of excellence in our product and the health and safety of our employees and the environment,” Westlake says. “Our mandate is to continually evaluate and incorporate new processes and services to meet our customers’ changing requirements.”
Part of this ethos includes training the workforce. Westlake says his company offers assistance with professional development and specific on-the-job training as technology advances. Westlake Industries also typically employs apprentices on the shop floor.
“We believe that training promotes job satisfaction,” Westlake says. “Nurturing employees to develop more rounded skill sets will help them contribute to the company and perhaps offer future career growth.”
Heading into the future, Westlake says his company’s goal is to expand through strategic initiatives, including diversifying into markets Westlake Industries previously has not targeted, including nuclear power, automotive and mining.
The company intends to expand its international footprint as well.