Q&A with David Tschetter, manager of Heart Fabrication

Jeremy Walters works on a pipe shoe, installing a plate to ensure it is robust enough to support piping load.

Tell us a little bit about Heart Fabrication. What were the circumstances that led to the business being formed?
We’ve always liked working with metal and steel. We’ve had success in manufacturing and welding various projects for our farm. Then with the boom of the oil industry around 2010, we’ve had some people approach us to see if we could manufacture pipe supports, clamps and other related materials. We started producing everything by hand but soon found our production pace too slow. So we bought a small CNC plasma table. We quickly outgrew that, so we invested in a new, bigger table, and the rest is history.

What sets you apart from the competition?
Since we have all the tools in-house we can manufacture everything on time and on budget. We also have CWB (Canadian Welding Bureau) certification.

Has your business model changed over the years? If so, how? How did you keep yourself relevant to your customers over the years?
As we all know, the oil industry has slowed down, so we’ve been tailoring our business a little more towards manufacturing for the farming industry. But building pipe shoes is still our main focus.

By keeping up with the latest in CNC technology and CAD (Computer-Aided Design), along with our plasma and press break, we can build almost anything pertaining to steel. Hopefully when things turn around in the oil industry we’ll be ready.

Your business relies on technical expertise to be competitive. Has labour shortage/lack of people with technical experience ever been an issue in your business?
Not really. Fairview College is close enough, so we sent some of our guys there for training and acquiring pertinent certificates.

Who are your customers? Where are they from?
Our customers are reputable companies from Grande Prairie as well as local farmers.

Where do you plan to take the business in the next five years?
At this point it’s hard to say what to do. If the oil industry doesn’t come back up soon, we’ll be forced to look into other fields. Alberta has been down this road before, and we think it will pick up again. After all, nothing would run without oil.

How difficult is it to keep a business afloat in a small town?
It’s tough when you’re not in a major center – you’re at a disadvantage to the companies that operate there. Logistics cost more. Freight and remote location can sometimes hinder productivity.

How much percent does the oil/gas industry account for in your business?
Oil and gas accounts for at least 70% of our business.

How much percent does the agriculture industry account for in your business?
Agriculture accounts for the rest of our business after the oil and gas industry. I see a potential for it to increase.

How are you dealing with some of the challenges in your day-to-day operation?
We carefully evaluate any potential obstacles and determine the best course of action while maintaining a strong bond with our employees, keeping morale up and always preserving unity.