“It was an oil and gas project that eventually really pulled us together.”
Great Clients, Great Location
With its Regina location as a distinct advantage, Magna Electric Corp had the opportunity to access a major pipeline project, which ultimately lead to their acquisition by Texas-based Shermco Industries. Shermco exists along with many others as big players in the oil and gas industry, with now a adventageous Regina location.
Kerry Heid, President and CEO of Shermco Industries Canada, believes Regina is the place to operate. “From an oil and gas perspective, it's a tremendous hub in Saskatchewan when it comes to pipelines and refineries.”
“If you think about the TransCanada pipeline coming straight west out of Burstall, the Enbridge pipeline coming out of Edmonton, and then the Co-op Refinery – they all meet in Regina,” continued Heid. “They're going different directions, but they all crossover in Regina. So, it's a pretty good place to be based out of in the service industry, and certainly the pipeline business.”
“And then, there’s the oil patch in the entire southern part of Saskatchewan,” he added.
Heid has leveraged this locational advantage. The Co-op Refinery has served as a longstanding partner with Magna as an oil and gas client. The Enbridge and TransCanada pipelines have been long-term clients of the company as well, with TransCanada being a client since Magna’s inception in 1996.
Heid noted they’ve also expanded their services to oil and gas companies, such as Crescent Point, in southern Saskatchewan.
“Having that base in Regina allows you to really, within two hours, access all the clients in Weyburn and Estevan, and as well as other clients in the Swift Current area – where there's a pretty heavy oil and gas concentration,” Heid said.
Graduating in 1988 from Electrical Engineering Technology at the institution that is now Moose Jaw’s Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Heid got his start with the then Regina-based company Westinghouse Electric Company. This industrial services company served much of southern Saskatchewan’s industry – from steel mills, to refineries, oil and gas companies, and potash.
With service industry experience, and many relationships built with big accounts, Heid set off in 1996 with a couple other electrical professionals, and started Magna Electric Corp in Regina.
“What we continued to do was service all sectors of the industry – and, certainly, oil and gas was a big part of that,” Heid said.
Magna Electric Corp began as a modest company, comprised of only a few employees. After growing to employing close to one thousand people in 2013, Magna was bought by Shermco Industries – a leading U.S.-based electrical services company.
The Birth of Magna Electric
“In a nutshell,” Heid said, “Magna is a full-service electrical engineering services company.”
“We're kind of the only full-service electrical company,” he added. “Particularly, on electrical power systems. We offer engineering, field services, some manufacturing and job type repair work, maintenance and, of course, have the electricians that can do installations as well.”
Magna started out as an electrical services company, which was mostly comprised of electrical technologists, who would work on high voltage and electrical power systems for big industry.
The company’s largest accounts at that time, in and around Regina, included the Co-op Refinery, the “pipeline companies,” potash mines, and the Evraz steel mill.
“Since then, we've really diversified into a full electrical engineering consulting firm,” Heid said.
Magna’s core business is still in electrical services, with a 30,000 square foot shop in Regina with an integrated engineering manufacturing centre, and also does shop and repair services on electrical power equipment.
Magna, Meet Shermco
Situated in Regina, the electrical engineering company found itself taking on work in the United States.
From 2008 to about 2012, Magna did consistent work with the Keystone Pipeline – which ran from Hardisty, Alberta, right down into Dallas, Texas.
“We were awarded the contract to start up the electrical on the pipeline, out of Canada,” Heid said. As Magna started to work closer to Dallas, they started to use Shermco as part of their team on the pipeline contract with TransCanada.
“We did all the electrical testing and commissioning of the Keystone Pipeline, which is a huge oil and gas project,” Heid said, “And we collaborated with Shermco because the project basically went from northern Alberta all the way down to Texas.”
“We started to work together, and we noticed that our safety culture, and our culture in general, was very similar,” he said. “We have a very high respect for safety, and quality. We found that we meshed together really well.”
Shermco approached Magna Electric to join forces. In 2013, Magna was bought by Shermco, creating the largest independent electrical testing and maintenance service company in North America.
With the addition of Magna, the large American company added “Shermco Industries Canada” to their roster and developed a presence in Western Canada.
Heid has not only seen continual growth in the Oil and Gas Supply Chain Sector, but has found opportunity for areas of growth – specifically, with electrical maintenance.
“You know, there aren’t a lot of new capital projects going on and, particularly in the electrical maintenance side, there’s a new CSA (Canadian Standards Association) standard coming out that's starting to really put the emphasis on electrical testing and maintenance, which is what we do, especially on electrical power systems.”
Heid views the factors that have influenced his success in the sector as a opportunity to those considering setting up shop in Regina – from proximity to pipelines, oil fields, and government and business support.
“It's really the place to be in Saskatchewan for oil and gas work.”