Westech Industrial: Canada’s Best Managed Companies 2018

Diversification pays off in a cyclical sector

 
Canada’s Best Managed Companies

With a roughly 536% increase in revenues over the past decade, you could say that Westech Industrial is on fire—although that would probably be at odds with the company’s long-standing expertise in industrial flame arresters.

In 2008, when Jason Lapp took over as VP of sales and marketing at the company established in 1966 by his father and business partner, Roger Bowman, Westech was, he says, a “shadow of its former self.”

The Calgary-based company, which specializes in analytical instrumentation and process control equipment for industries including oil and gas, pipeline, wastewater and petrochemical, did $11 million worth of business that year. A decade later, Lapp says it is on target to hit its goal of $70 million in revenue by 2019.

“We have so much opportunity in front of us; our biggest challenge is to get more employees like we have,” says Lapp, who assumed the CEO role in 2010. “The quality of people we have right now is off the charts. They’re fantastic people.”

Westech stood by its employees even when the price of oil fell to $26 a barrel, with Lapp proudly noting that the company did not lay off a single person. “When everybody else was shedding staff like crazy, we continued to hire,” he says.

Today, Westech employs approximately 130 people across Canada and operates a manufacturing facility in Houston and a sales office in Huntington Beach, Calif., (its U.S. division, Varec Biogas, is headed by Lapp’s brother Russ).

Much of its recent growth has been fuelled by diversification. For example, one emerging area of Westech’s business, Integrated Solutions, pulls together custom engineering and design for a mix of everything from water recovery to gas emissions analysis, vapour pressure and anything else a client requires. This unit has seen revenues increase from $2 million to $20 million a year over the past decade.

In December, Westech opened its newest Canadian office in Fort St. John, B.C., close to the Montney Formation—a 130,000-sq.-km patch stretching from B.C. to Alberta that the National Energy Board has estimated contains 90 billion barrels of oil equivalent, mostly natural gas, and could comprise more than half of the country’s natural gas production by 2040.

“It’s going to continue to be a hotbed of activity with what’s happening with the gas market up there,” says Lapp.


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