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WEATHERING

THE STORM Wynn Machine and Manufacturing, Edmonton, AB BY DOUG PICKLYK

W

hen you live and work in Alberta, fortunes rise and fall with the oil patch. Having lived in the Edmonton area his entire life, Paul Chissell, president of Wynn Machine & Manufacturing, has experienced the up and down cycles before, and he’s confident this current dip in the local economy will recover again. Chissell is the second generation to run the custom machining operation that was started by his father Ernie in 1976. A machinist who emigrated from England in 1962, Ernie worked in Edmonton area shops before opening up his own one-man operation. He named the business after his mother-in-law, whose last name was Wynn. “Apparently she was quite a lucky woman,” says Paul. 42 | AUGUST 2015

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After 10 years on his own, growing the business and renting out larger spaces, Ernie finally set up the shop in at the company’s current location in the Coronet Industrial area just south of downtown Edmonton, home to multiple machinery and equipment operations. Starting with one bay in the multi-unit building, as the business grew Wynn Machine continued knocking through walls to the point where shop now occupies all eight bays on the site. To accommodate even more growth, when a building next door became available the company moved in, giving the business at total of over 30,000 sq. ft. on about 3.5 acres of land. “Growth has been steady since the company started,” says Paul. “Here [in Alberta] we have these hills and valleys, and right now we’re in a valley, and it’s been a challenge,” he admits. “But, you’ve got to weather the storm. We’re established, which helps.” The company has had as many as 28 employees when times were flush; their current count is 16. The oil and gas industry has been the mainstay for Wynn over the years. “It’s been the bread and butter,” says Chissell. But the company has been diversifying more than ever, acquiring customers in the food services industry and other areas to keep the machines busy. As a jobbing shop, Wynn makes parts to order and has aligned itself with some of the bigger oil and oilfield service companies. “We do one-off parts to full production-level runs, just to try and grab as much of the market as we can and to be fluent in all aspects,” says Chissell. Most of their work is for the drilling fields, which happens to be the flattest side of the oil and gas business right now. “I started here when I was quite young, so I’ve gone through a few of these cycles, and I remember job sharing and reduced hours. Some of the young people around here don’t understand, but I’ve had to explain that it’s a vicious cycle around here and when it’s good it’s good, and when it’s not good it’s terrible.”

Threaded casings are kept on hand for quick delivery.

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15-07-17 1:40 PM

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