Environmental planning company succeeds by diversifying.
For 20 years, Airdrie-based Rangeland Conservation Service Ltd. has helped oil and gas companies, municipalities and others keep track of the ever-changing world of environmental policies and regulations.
And, despite the economic downturn, the company is as busy as ever.
“Rangeland is an environmental and geotechnical planning company,” explains Jon Boyle, principal and senior environmental planner, who with his wife, Kristen, launched Rangeland in 1996. “When a client comes to us with a project, we determine what the regulatory needs are, and we do the appropriate required environmental surveys, we prepare environmental plans, documents and regulatory applications, and we take it to the construction phase and provide assistance and support with putting things together.”
Boyle’s team has grown to cover fisheries biology, rangeland ecology, botanical and wetland specialties, environmental inspections, geotechnical engineering – all with the goal of helping companies build and maintain projects with minimal environmental impact. What few services aren’t available in-house, such as archeology, are sub-consulted out.
For example, Boyle says, if an oil and gas company is planning to build a pipeline that passes over a water course, Rangeland will examine whether a planned method for the crossing is feasible, and suggest alternatives if it’s not.
“There’s a lot more [environmental] awareness,” he says. “A lot more companies want to do not only what is required of them to do from the regulations, but also be good environmental stewards and corporate citizens; to do what’s right.”
Besides O&G, Rangeland also works with municipalities in environmental planning. This is something that has evolved over time, says Boyle. “Now we have an entire division developing environmental plans for these groups,” he says. “We’ve worked with the City of Airdrie on greenspace inventory of what there is from a plant community perspective … [and] we’ve done numerous bioengineering projects for the City of Calgary on flood mitigation, [as well as] green-rooftop projects.”
Although the economy is in a downturn, oil and gas companies are still turning to Rangeland for environmental studies as part of maintaining existing infrastructure. For example, Boyle says, a client recently discovered that an existing pipeline crossing a river was not deep enough, so Rangeland did surveys and regulatory work on the best way to build a new pipeline and remove the old one.
“And there are still new things going on,” Boyle adds. “From a planning perspective, there are huge advantages to [oil and gas] hiring companies like us to do environmental planning, scouting new projects, siting new well sites … get that done now while commodity prices are lower, so when things turn around they’ll be 10 steps ahead. Instead of trying to find people when it’s very busy, they’ll be ready to rock and roll.”
Although Rangeland offers its services across Alberta and into Manitoba, Saskatchewan and B.C., Boyle is content to keep it based here in Airdrie.
“Twenty-two years ago, when we were getting after Rangeland, my wife and I were looking for a family community to live in,” he says. “We’re both small-town people and we focused on Airdrie because it was the best fit for our personal lives. We’re a relatively young company, both in terms of our firm and our staff, and a number of [staff members] were also attracted to Airdrie.”
Being in Airdrie allows Rangeland to promote a life-work balance for its employees. For example, Boyle says, they get discounted memberships at Genesis Place.
“We try to promote that, yes, work is important, but we also try to stress that the individuals who work for us are also important,” he says.
Rangeland also supports the local economy as much as possible. “I believe in having all our own equipment here, so we have to maintain that equipment,” says Boyle. “We buy our trucks locally, we maintain our trucks locally, we purchase our ATVs locally … and now probably at least half our staff has moved from Calgary [to Airdrie]. I can’t think of a better place to have a firm.
“And the advantage of being a small-town company, we’re competing with larger firms in Calgary, but we don’t necessarily have the overhead those firms downtown have,” he adds. “We have grassroots folks who are professionals, but we have a very competitive price. We’re always looking at ways to make our work more efficient and come in faster, but still maintain excellent quality at a reasonable price that you may not see in a 1,600-person company.”
Boyle gives a lot of credit for Rangeland’s success to Kristen, who is also the company’s administrator and safety co-ordinator.
“She and I have two wonderful children, ages 13 and 18, and I give her huge support in having a lead role with the company, and helping me keep track with the business,” he says.
WATCH THE AIRDRIENOW VIDEO to learn more about Rangeland Conservation Service Ltd. at airdrielife.com