In the sometimes unforgiving conditions in northern Alberta, you’ll find resourcefulness and ingenuity in every corner. That includes offering range of sturdy, reliable products and services by Vertical Buildings—a Canadian design, manufacturing and construction company specializing in tensioned fabric, steel and modular structures.
Managed by Mark Loos and Kevin Hrab, who grew up in the small farming community of Hines Creek, Alberta, they know what it takes to get stuff done in the North—something that their clients appreciate, according to Hrab.
“There is a strong obligation to their clients and ensuring their needs are taken care of,” says Hrab, who adds that the company’s band of specialists has carefully navigated clients through building projects and geographical challenges across the entire country for 20 years–at any time of the day or night.
The company combines sales and support for the installation of tensioned fabric structures along with a dedicated manufacturing plant in Kamloops for the fabrication of modular structures utilizing a proprietary steel box modular construction. The structures serve industrial (oil and gas, mining, energy and forestry), commercial, public works and recreation facility clients.
“Our installations have catered to virtually all industries in Canada,” Hrab adds. “The portfolio has become is extensive, with projects ranging in ore mines in Ontario and Quebec to oil and gas projects across Western Canada.”
From concept to completion, (including on-the-fly schematics on the back of a napkin when necessary), projects include construction of all types of buildings, from warehouse, offices, workshops and custom fit fabrication and high-lift facilities. Tensioned fabric structures range in sizes from 18 feet by 160 feet, with potential to accommodate even larger requirements no matter the geography or environmental conditions.
“There is virtually no part of the country that we have not been able to deliver our expertise in Fabric Structures,” states Hrab. “The strict attention we pay to our clients has allowed our team to service the needs of some of the most demanding clients in Industry.”
Working from their base in Grande Prairie, the teams of designers, engineers, welders, builders and project managers create turnkey solutions and custom designs for top-notch fabric buildings and modular structure requirements.
A key strength of the company has been their ability to incorporate modular units into the sales and installation of the fabric structures.
“Modular fabrication is relatively new and very exciting addition to our core capabilities,” says Hrab. “This is one of the biggest initiatives we have. It came from an outgrowth of retrofitting shipping containers into applications like offices, lunch rooms and washrooms facilities.”
Since the inception of this business stream, the demand has grown for Vertical to deliver standalone camps offices and lavatories constructed from the modular structures.
Hrab says Vertical’s design-build mentality has also moved into conventional pre-engineered steel buildings. One of the largest jobs ever awarded in the company’s history includes office and warehouse and truck bay space for Secure Energy. This further evolution of the company has again expanded the offerings of Vertical to their current client base and potential markets.
“It was a big win for our company,” he says. “These are the building blocks in our business and has allowed us to evolve from where we started off in the fabric building business.”
While cookie-cutter solutions seem to be the mandate of some companies in the industry, Hrab states that most clients are looking for more personal solutions.
“I can tell you there are very few installations that are ever the same,” he says. “We’re currently working on an innovative project—a large client camp with needs for generator, wastewater, warehouse, water storage and office structures. It’s a big project, but we’ve got the in-house and vendor partner capabilities. That really differentiates us. We’re a smaller company, but we’ve got a broad business scope.”
Hrab says the recent downturn in the oil and gas industry has contributed to cautious decisions but business is still strong and growing.
“We added our camp division of products and services, and even in a downturn market, we’re still being entertained as a primary vendor,” he states. “I think it comes from the quality and reliability of the structures, but we also service the heck out of our customer.”
Cost control is the order of the day, according to client comments that Hrab picks up in meetings. He says flexibility is the key to survival in these times.
“You’ve got to be nimble in tight circumstances,” he states. “In terms of what the impact is to the overall economy and when money becomes tight, infrastructure and spending is impacted. We’re sensitive to that. We’ve gotten requests from vendors to re-evaluate pricing—that’s a trend right now. Producers are asking for concessions and ideas to get the best quality without too much sacrifice.”
A standing example of how brilliant ideas can translate into lowered costs is a project recently completed by the Vertical team.
“We were approached by a British Columbia mining company that needed a 68-foot pre-span clearance to do maintenance on their haul trucks,” Hrab cites. “We sat down and round-tabled ideas and created a three-stack sea container foundation—a tall side structure for the high-lift environment.”