Supporting Alberta’s Infrastructure for 40 Years Written and photographed by Mary Savage
A welder at work in the Ensteel Shop
hen you step inside Gerry Stotts’ office, the walls are lined with black-and-white photographs, awards and memorabilia that reflect a lifetime of hard work, dedication and accomplishments. He started working when he was 14 years old in his father’s machine shop – the first shop in Calgary to die-cast aluminum that came from recycled engine parts.
Since that time, Stotts has spent his career working both for and with companies that have helped build the infrastructure of Alberta – since the early 1950s. After graduating from the University of Alberta as a civil engineer, Stotts spent many years in the heavy equipment construction industry when road and development work, coal mining and surface mining were leading industries. After 14 years, he decided it Ensteel Industries | 40th Anniversary | 1
was time to start a business – known today as Ensteel Industries Ltd. The year 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of Ensteel Industries, a company that Stotts, Cliff Ratcliff and Sandy Harvey established in 1973. Originally, Ensteel evolved to meet a growing demand for customers that required large-scale material handling equipment. The components were shipped to Calgary and then modified, by Ensteel, for the
A Deep-Rooted Passion… When Stotts is not working on an Ensteel project, you will find him involved with the Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Heritage Society of Canada (RHHS), an association that was established to preserve and promote Canada’s construction heritage and it’s located next to the Leduc # 1 Energy Discovery Centre, near Devon, Alberta. In 1992, Stotts joined the advisory committee of the Reynolds-Alberta Museum (RAM) in an effort to help preserve Alberta’s vintage construction equipment. His deep-rooted passion for both preserving history and raising awareness led to his involvement with the RHHS, and today he sits as vice-president of the organization. “The construction industry is the largest employer of people in Canada, yet when it comes to heavy construction, Western Canada lacks training and publicity to entice young people. In addition to preserving history, we’ve had an ongoing effort to promote this sector as a career path,” he says. “Recent statistics indicate we are going to need between 45,000-50,000 people working in the oilsands in the next five years. By grade 10, most young people have decided what career path they want to pursue, so we are trying to expose kids to the heavy construction industry at a younger age – because all kids like to play in the sandbox,” he adds. One of the RHHS initiatives is located in Draft Horse Town, at the Calgary Stampede. You will find horse-drawn equipment on display, but you will also find a sandbox – and kids are encouraged to jump in and play. There are simulators and hands-on equipment designed to catch their eye and hopefully, spark their interest to pursue a career in road building and heavy construction. Last summer, the RHHS and Olds College hosted a program called “Women in Industry” and welcomed women from ages 18 to 60. As graduates, each woman walked away not only with their certification, but each one had secured a job. “From mining and pipelining to building roads, the heavy construction sector encompasses many aspects. We have a rich history and it’s through all of these industries that we are able to make Alberta a better place to live. And now we are connecting with the next generation who are going to continue to develop Alberta’s infrastructure,” says Stotts with a hint of excitement.
Our staff at Chinook Pumps would like to congratulate Ensteel on their 40th Anniversary. We wish you continued success.
3824 7th Street S.E. Calgary, AB T2G 2Y8 Toll Free in Canada: 800.784.4324 | Phone: 403.243.3310 | Fax: 403.243.2997 Ensteel Industries | 40th Anniversary | 2
customer’s needs. Ratcliff was a welder and machinist, Harvey looked after sales and Stotts ran the engineering division – and the team worked together seam seamlessly. “During the early days, we would design and build the equipment to meet the specs of the contractor. We brought in the components, put them on a chassis and built the necessary hoppers, convey conveyors and controls,” recalls Stotts, founder. “And it was before the advent of computers! All the drafting and engineering work was done with a slide rule and cal calculator,” he adds. “And sales calls were made in person.” While Ensteel was growing the business, another industry was starting to emerge: sulphur – a byproduct of every gas plant in Alberta. “The sulphur was
poured into big yellow blocks and it was 99.9 per cent pure,” says Stotts. There was a worldwide demand for sulphur and Alberta responded – it had the raw commodity, but it was inefficient in the block form. Ensteel was involved in the design and building of facilities to process the sulphur blocks: Ensteel built equipment to melt, store, load to railcars and ship to Vancouver for worldwide distribution. By 1975, Ensteel needed more space and moved to barren farmland located southeast of the city. They were the first business to set up shop in what was to become the South Foothills Industrial Park. Over the next 20 years, Ensteel worked with companies across all sectors – fabricating machinery from gravel crushers and concrete aggregate production, to screening and washing equipment for the mining industry. They have shipped equipment as far north as the Arctic Circle, to Nanasivik, where a gravel crusher was used to build airport landing strips throughout the High Arctic. By the late 1980s, Ensteel recognized another growing need: transportation equipment in the concrete industry, also
known as transit mixers. Ensteel started a new division, Precision Concrete Mixers, and today the division continues to produce a complete line of concrete mixer units. In 2000, the third division of Ensteel emerged while working with a refuse container company out of Medicine Hat. Forty years later, Stotts is still involved with the company, but the second generation is sitting squarely at the helm. Two of Stotts’ children joined the company years ago and today his son, Joe, is the president. His daughter, Sheila, heads up the office and administration division. Joe joined the business in 1986 after graduating from SAIT as a machinist – starting out in the shop and working his way through the business. Sheila joined Ensteel in 2000 after a lengthy and successful career in the banking industry. As Ensteel celebrates their 40th anniversary, they pause from the workday to extend a sincere thank you to all the business partners, suppliers, employees and customers who have helped them to achieve this milestone. •
The best success stories are the ones written right here.
Congratulations Ensteel, as you celebrate your 40th Anniversary! Proud to be your long-standing insurance broker.
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Congratulations to Ensteel Industries Ltd. on celebrating 40 successful years. Calgary Chinook Branch 6606 MacLeod Trail SW Ph: 403.252.2299
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