The very beginning of this company’s history goes back to how they adopted a mascot who now appears on its letterhead. Often mistaken for buffalos, bison are symbolic animals of the Great Plains. With a heavy coat of fur to weather the cold wintery storms, the North American bison range embodies a true Western feel while reflecting a hard-working attitude. The President of Rangeland Engineering Limited Ron Daye couldn’t think of a better image to convey his company’s values.
And so when the company leader discovered that one of Rangeland’s first clients had a bison farm and also did taxidermy of animals, he arranged to have a bison head prepared. “It’s a bit of an entertainment piece because it turned out the taxidermist was just getting started and it was his first one,” explains Daye.
Without going into much detail, the most important steps were missed in the taxidermy process and creepy crawlers were left behind. “A buddy and I had to boil the horns in the backyard over rum and coke and then we had to dye them,” says Daye. “It took a few years for the wild odor to go away and the girls in the office had to spray perfume but it’s settled down. We call it stinky now,” says Daye, referring to the head of a bison that hangs on the wall. “It’s in our lobby so it’s the first thing customers see when they come in so, we get [bison heads as] gifts—the herd count is at about 20 now,” Daye says, adding the iconic image has become part of its brand marketing.
After 27 years in the engineering and project management field, the Calgary-based entrepreneur Daye decided to branch out, and the business was born in 2001. Customers are industrial-type, including small to medium size companies in the oil and gas sector as well as NEO liquids, power generation and co-generation plants and manufacturers. “We provide project management for FEED (Front End Engineering Design); that’s where we do conceptual design and capital operating costs for new projects,” says Daye. Other projects are in infrastructure, mechanical rooms and commercial buildings.
Technology and design is leading edge
Perhaps what makes Rangeland most unique is its approach to overall design. Rangeland uses a high-end design program often referred to as CAD Works, and has completed many projects running between $50 to 100 million. Most projects begin with drafts that show the client a model plant three-dimensionally. “It means that the whole design—produced with an intelligent program, gives a high level of accuracy—and clients are pleased with a lot less rework (as we say in the field). Such rework can run at about 15 per cent of construction costs whereas on our projects it runs more along the lines of three per cent,” says Daye. Rangeland has received many accolades from long-standing clients, such as Provident Energy and many others.
Talent pool gives competitive edge
Rangeland began first with a small staff of two—Daye and his long time associate Bill O’Toole, an engineer by trade—but has since grown to over 15 employees. “We aren’t afraid of investing in and developing innovative tools to keep what I call ‘above-average individuals’ interested in what we do,” explains Daye, who began recruiting people who had worked with him on earlier projects. Even today, most of the staff have experience working with someone from Rangeland or come highly recommended.
Having such a talented pool of experts fosters innovation and generates market growth. With over 90 fulltime and part-time personnel, Rangeland has experienced 40 to 100 per cent growth annually. “We have the first three floors above a pub and we have breakfast there first thing Friday mornings. It’s a weekly social thing we do to connect and be there for each other, both professionally and personally,” says Daye. Evidently, there is a clear link between the pool of talent and the level of innovation that is the key driver for this company’s business.
Diverse customer base
Despite the downturn in the economy, Rangeland has secured its contracts with service agreements with its long-standing clientele. The Alberta-based medium-sized engineering firm provides engineering services to the oil and gas industry in respects to project management and pipeline design.
Rangeland serves both domestic and international markets, with operations across Canada, the U.S. and beyond. “The growth plan is to always add to the client base and about two years ago, we started looking for work internationally,” says Daye. “What it does is add interest for people who are innovative and want to travel and work with different clients, so we’ve chased projects in West Africa, Kazakhstan and South America,” he tells. “The more diverse your business—the better you can weather the storm,” he adds.
In addition to its high-end design, Rangeland also provides safety standards and procedures as part of its packages of services, including engineering design, on-site monitoring, operating training and commissioning facility services. “That means we’re onsite quite a bit,” Daye adds, chuckling. There’s no question why Rangeland’s all-in-one service is considered to be a huge value added for many clients.
Rangeland’s key milestones this year are pretty straightforward. “We’re focused on capitalizing on the improving economy,” tells Daye. As a forward-thinking, steadfast firm, much like the bison, Rangeland’s key driver is to keep working hard—to secure its next round of projects this year. “A major initiative for us now is the international side of business. It’s a very challenging area, the average sales cycle is certainly longer than North American but once you have it it’s worth it,” he says.