Best Managed Companies

Elite Integrity Services: Canada's Best Managed Companies 2019

Only take on work you can do exceptionally well

Canada’s Best Managed Companies

Elite Integrity Services. (Photograph by Jason Franson)

Elite Integrity Services is a name that describes the purported quality of the company’s work and the way it aims to do business, but it doesn’t shed much light on what it actually does.

Still, ask most people in the Canadian oil industry and they’ll be well aware of the company’s work. Ever since 2010, the Calgary-based firm has been constructing and repairing above-ground oil storage tanks, working diligently to make sure the all-important equipment is safe and secure.

The work is technical and the timelines are short: clients want their tanks up and running as quickly as possible without having to worry about safety hazards. Elite’s in-house engineers and draftspeople are called out to tanks across B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan throughout the year.

The company has forged its reputation on reliability, according to president Shawn Kirwan—and that has come from avoiding the temptation to overextend itself. “What sets us apart in our industry is that our clients know we don’t take on more than we’re capable of,” he says. “In our industry, there’s a lot of over-promising and under-delivering. Many of our clients start working with another company, and when that provider doesn’t deliver, we get the call and do it right.”

Another differentiator is Elite’s investment in the quality of life of its employees, which Kirwan says is essential to both worker retention and vocational safety. Oil tank repair can be tiring, difficult work, and workplace accidents are a real concern. The company holds regular town halls to hear from employees, and frequently hosts camping events, hockey tournaments and other team-building exercises. These activities also reinforce that the company wants its people to be well-rested, to have good work-life balance, and to be as healthy as possible—rare priorities in an industry defined by long hours, cold temperatures and hard labour. “Quality of life impacts safety. We want our people to be happy and healthy on the job,” Kirwan says. “We don’t have much turnover; most of our guys have been here since day one. We tell them, ‘We hire you and retire you.’ ”

To fill periodic labour shortages, Elite opts to invest in promising candidates, even if they might need further education to take on the role. “We had an agency manager who was the brother of a field foreman,” recalls Kirwan (it’s not uncommon for current Elite employees to recruit friends or family members). “When he joined the team, he didn’t have all the proper training he needed, but we could tell from his attitude and enthusiasm he was the right person for the job. We helped put him through school, and now he’s thriving in the role. I’d say that’s an example of how we elevate people.”

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The types of companies that make it on this ranking vary drastically. One thing they definitely have in common? They keep reaching for more.

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