The next time you stop at a gas station in Canada, take a close look at the pump. Odds are you might see a little silver sticker indicating it has been inspected by a company based out of Airdrie.
Since 1994, Cantest Solutions Inc. has focused on providing third-party inspection services for the oil and gas industry, evaluating and testing oilfield storage tanks for leaks; meanwhile, the retail petroleum services industry calls upon Cantest for leak-detection, pump calibration and other preventative maintenance at stations.
“We’re the largest [company] of our kind,” special projects manager Lee Krause says, adding that Cantest has helped introduce state-of-the-art equipment into the leak-detection and meter-calibration business. “The meter calibration equipment we use … the master meter prover or closed-loop electronic calibration system, we are the co-developer of it with MTI [Measurement Technology International] out of Lethbridge. They came up with the original idea and we’ve been field-testers and field experts, working with them hand-in-hand to develop software as well as … best practices and procedures.”
Citing a desire to avoid conflict of interest, Krause says, Cantest does not get into the actual repair side of the work when it comes to oilfield inspections. “We’re a third-party advisor and they take it from there,” he says. “We have a lot of companies that monitor their inventory and if they see an issue they’re on the phone to us, ‘We need you out here.”
Over the last 21 years, Cantest has expanded to include employees from Vancouver to Moncton. Krause says that the biggest boost to the business – and, he says, the biggest revenue-generator – was when the Canadian Weights and Measures division of the federal government put in the Fair Measure for All law. “What they [mandated] was every field dispenser [i.e. gas pump] – Esso, Safeway, Co-op, etc. – has to be recertified every two years, and we’re the largest provider of certification services,” he says.
Krause likens dispensers to a car engine. “Over time and the more use they have, the more they wear,” he says. “Dispensers are actually designed to give way as they wear out … in favour of the consumer. So it is in the retailer’s best interests that they are [calibrated] on a regular basis.” The difference, he says, might be a matter of pennies per transaction – but, especially with the larger gasoline providers, those pennies can add up over time.
This sort of work keeps Cantest thriving, even during a period of low oil prices.
“We’ve learned quite a bit over the years, a lot through practice finding issues and correcting problems as we find them,” Krause says. “Our tank and line equipment … and calibration equipment … is regarded as the best in the world.
“And we have always tried to be No. 1 in safety,” he adds. “That safety aspect is something that’s becoming more stringent and we try to be at the top of our game.”
Right now, Cantest is primarily countrywide, although, Krause says, the company is always looking for opportunities to grow, sending representatives to the Petroleum Equipment Expo in Las Vegas and looking at possible European expansion. “We are always looking at international expansion as one of our next growth opportunities,” he says.
But Airdrie remains home base – in fact, Cantest’s only brick-and-mortar office is here.
“Airdrie’s been a great place for us – the ease of access to get around the country or even having to get technology to the airport is one of the biggest things,” Krause says, noting that about 45 people work out of the Airdrie office. “We’ve got a good community here and it provides us with good employees.”