Launched in 2006, TerraPro Group Inc. recently ranked ninth in PROFIT Magazine’s 200 Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies in 2012, with over $11 million in revenues, and a whopping 5,417 per cent growth over a five-year period. This result follows the company’s ranking as 15th on Profit Guide’s 2011 PROFIT HOT 50. At the time, the company was showing over $4.7 million in revenues, which translated into a 669 per cent growth over a two-year period.
In 2006, Richard Kulhawe and Colin Schmidt realized that the Western Canadian resource industry had large demand for matting products. The matting industry represents a fairly new concept in Western Canada. The matting idea originated in the southeastern United States, namely Louisiana in the early 1900’s, but the concept was introduced to Canada in late 1990’s, and TerraPro saw the opportunity in providing this product on a rental basis to the energy and resource industries.
The TerraPro Group provides remote access and terrain protection products and services to a wide array of industries and applications. While the company’s primary geographical focus is on Western and Northern Canada, the technology and products universally apply to any access challenge worldwide. The company offers industry leading technology, logistics expertise, and a collaborative approach to solving access challenges. TerraPro is quickly becoming preferred supplier for terrain protection and remote access products and services. The company targets primarily major oil and gas exploration companies, but also includes municipal governmental agencies and companies that service the construction, utility, mining and engineering that require access to-and-through remote and environmentally sensitive areas.
Kulhawe, President of TerraPro Group, told The Canadian Business Journal, “Traditionally, the oil and gas industry proceeds with the majority of exploration and drilling activities during the four winter months in Western Canada, and late October to the end of February has represented the main drilling cycle due to extended access over the frozen ground. The introduction of the matting products now allows the industry to extend their drilling well into and even throughout the summer, extending the exploration and drilling into a 12 month business cycle. Besides the oil and gas industry, there are quite a few industries that took notice of the upside of this product and we are starting to see broadening in the industries that are interested in using it.”
The company’s basic rental product is three-ply, 8-by-14 feet, and six inches thick, laminated oak or fir mat. A typical site installation consists of anywhere between 500 to 1,500 mats to provide access to exploration locations, and the company currently offers an inventory of more than 20,000 mats, able to provide ample support to 12 to 40 projects at once, covering an area larger than 51 acres.
To secure growth in this unique, up-and-coming industry service, the company created a unique financing program to exponentially accelerate the growth of the company’s inventory. Kulhawe said, “This financial product is RRSP eligible, and it allows us to attract funds in a fairly innovative way. In this way we are able to share our revenue with our investors, and our investors are directly profiting from our success. This form of financing has attracted some solid investments and brought investment dollars to the table, and it allows us to grow at a fairly rapid pace.”
“We currently focus extensively on business growth. As we better understand the opportunities that are out there, we see our expansion in terms of matting inventory size, and also expanding geographically into other parts of the province and other provinces. These plans represent the core of our future growth.
Within the business, we focus on our competence in terms of executing the services in the field. This means hiring the best people, and we continue to build and structure our business in a very efficient way.”
Besides the traditional matting, TerraPro actually entered the industry through research and development, working on a new matting product with superior performance characteristics at the time. Made out of composite materials, the product offers superior load bearing and supporting features in comparison to the traditional matting products. During this time the company started building a small inventory of the traditional matting to better understand the nuances of the industry and to understand how the industry works. Unfortunately, the 2008 downturn had hit the industry significantly and the market did not recognize the upside of the product at the time. Today, with Alberta’s rebounding energy sector and increasing interest in the company products, TerraPro is reinitiating its R&D for this superior composite matting product, and plans to start introducing composite product back into the industry.
Mobilization and Demobilization
Besides working to develop superior products, the company’s investment in developing technology allows TerraPro to provide a unique service to its clients.
Proprietary mat tracking technology allows the company and its clients to track its matting inventory online, and to directly monitor the matting processes, seeing the speed and efficiency of the product deployment to the site. “This is a leading-edge element of our business and it puts us into better position against our competition in the marketplace. However, this approach only underscores our hard work, availability, and attitude to ‘Get the job done, when you need it done.’” To put money behind the words, the company works in a standby mode, and the company workforce and equipment are ready to go on moment’s notice. “To succeed in this business, we have to be very responsive to become and grow as the leader in the industry.”