“It's a great place. It's a great place to live, and raise your family. It’s the quality of employees and people we have to work with.”
A Sense of Loyalty
Sean Frisky, President and CEO of Ground Effects Environmental Services, attributes the culture and the people in the province for having influenced the growth of his company in the technology industry.
“What we have in Saskatchewan is hard working, smart, innovative, creative people,” Frisky said. “And part of that culture is longevity.”
Frisky believes longevity in a technology company is vital. “It's always important to have long term people around, but with technology, it's even more important.” He explained many breakthroughs that happen with a technology are built off of memories or ideas that were developed over the years.
While it’s common to have the mentality of moving up the ladder in fast growing industries, in Regina, there’s a strong sense of loyalty.
“We're just good folks in Saskatchewan,” Frisky said.
Treating the Problem
Frisky began his career in the oil and gas industry working on remediation problems at the Co-op refinery, in Regina.
After developing a process to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater, he started Ground Effects – a company that specializes in innovative electrokinetic and electrical separation remediation technologies. It is a leader in water treatment in the municipal, oil and gas, mining and industrial sectors.
Ground Effects got its start doing remediation for a Co-op gas station, with in situ remediation equipment, which cleans up contaminated soil and groundwater without excavation.
In lieu of traditional techniques, where a gas station would dig up contaminated soil and discard it in a landfill, “we can actually treat that where it lies,” Frisky explained. “So, you're not digging a big hole and just moving the problem. We're actually treating the problem.”
Flash forward 20 years, and the company is doing all remediation for Co-op across Western Canada.
Ground Effects continues to grow, and continues to develop new water treatment technologies in-house to add to their base for in situ remediation — which are based on electrokinetics.
“Now, we do industrial, municipal, oil and gas, large scale wastewater treatment processes and systems,” Frisky said. “We use electricity to treat the water, and then we have another technology that treats oil-based drilling fluid that is used in the oil and gas sector, and it also uses electricity.”
This advanced electrokinetic technology has opened the world stage to Ground Effects, while being based in Regina.
“We have unique technology in the world market, and we're solving unique problems that nobody in the world is solving,” Frisky said.
While most of their work is large-scale industrial, they’ve recently designed small-scale technology called a Pocket EOX, which Ground Effects created that uses electrochemical reactions to treat drinking water in developing countries.
Rooted in Western Canada, Ground Effects now builds and exports equipment to the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and across the US and Canada.
The company’s goal is to set up distributors in different countries around the world.
“That's kind of the journey we're on now,” Frisky said.
While working with different markets across the globe, Ground Effects has to build to different specifications depending on market standards. The company works with local Regina vendors to custom fit the right pieces for their equipment.
“We do it all local in Regina,” Frisky said. With the challenges that come with building to different markets, he’s assembled a very supportive team of vendors.
“We have great relationships, where they’re fair and honest, and they get the job done.”
Built on Relationships
This community feel of Regina expands to Ground Effects’ relationships with services in the city that have supported their growth.
“[Regina is] small enough that banking is still more relationship driven than just being a number on a sheet,” Frisky said.
As many companies experience short-term challenges in inherently volatile industries, such as oil and gas, Frisky has experienced positive support from local banks.
“Our banks have helped us through different ups and downs, and made things work. Where, the bigger the centre you're in, the more you become a number instead of a person,” he said.
“You can't really put a value on that, but you don't really know what the outcome would be if you were somewhere else.”
Outside of changes that happen with the economy, Frisky has noticed a growing change within Regina’s business climate from it’s traditional humble approach to self-promotion.
“I think we're typically kind of conservative that way, and I think there's some massive changes happening,” Frisky said. He noted that Regina’s Council for Entrepreneurship Growth’s (CEG) Audacity YQR movement, geared to promote Regina as an entrepreneurial ecosystem, has contributed to that.
“I think there are a lot of positive things,” Frisky added. “That people are excited to be here, and be working here. So, I'm excited about that, and about the future.”