Meeting customer demands during a building boom

Despite the ups and downs of the Alberta economy in recent years, business is booming at Shaw Steel Services, where Jeff Goodwin is production manager.

“We’re pumping rebar out of here like crazy,” he says from the company’s shop floor in Strathmore.

The rebar fabricator services the construction industry in Southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. “We’ll ship rebar wherever they need rebar,” Jeff says.

And right now, that need is great. Over the past year, Shaw Steel has added staff and taken on many new projects, especially infrastructure projects.

Trying to meet customer demand during a global pandemic comes with its own challenges, of course. The biggest one for Shaw Steel is when staff or others along the supply chain get sick.

“It can rip through your crew very easily,” Jeff says of the COVID-19 virus. “That’s challenging, but everybody is in the same boat. Anyone can hold up a construction schedule.”

The company is currently doing a lot of work for award-winning homebuilder Rohit Communities in the Calgary area. “There’s a massive repurposing right now of empty office space into affordable living units,” says Jeff.

For Jeff and the team at Shaw Steel, propane is indispensable as the energy they need to meet customers’ demands.

“We use propane to heat our equipment because we’re in a 600-foot-long space with a roof and no walls. We need to pump heat to the equipment to keep hydraulic and pneumatic systems working; sometimes they don’t like the fact that they have to be outside.”

As well, some of their outside equipment runs on propane and they use it to heat office trailers outside the city.

“The nature of the business means that propane is a good solution,” he says.

“I used to work as a foreman for Ellis Don and we did a massive airport expansion. We had a temporary natural gas line to the site, and we sucked it dry. There’s not an endless supply of natural gas; in cases like that, you need to supplement it with propane.

“We had the bulk propane truck on site every day,” he says of the $2.1 billion airport project. “It was a two million square foot facility.

“Propane is just a perfect fit,” he says. “It’s quick heat, fast and reliable.”