The owner of a Red Deer oilfield-related company says the decision to close the doors was a tough one.
Safety orientation is the first thing to be cut and the last thing to come back during an economic downturn, explained Frank Murray, who owns Arresting You Ltd., a safety training company.
“We used up our nest egg of savings to try to get over the hump. It’s made us realize that this model is not working, and if there is no labour working, there’s no need for training,” he said.
“So we’re basically stopping the bleeding by choosing to go out of business instead of waiting until they take the business.”
Murray, 63, started Arresting You Ltd. about 25 years ago. The company provides training in fall protection for rig workers, confined space entry and rescue, fork lift operator training and other instruction.
The company, located in the Edgar industrial area, will be closing Oct. 31.
Business has been scarce since the change in federal and provincial governments in 2015, and because of negativity toward the Canadian oil industry ever since, said Murray.
Company manager Eleanor Knutson said much of the business’s former client base is now working in the United States.
More than 90 per cent of the western Canadian drilling fleet has “moved some of their iron south, and the iron up here is parked,” said Murray, which means the workers follow the equipment.
Knutson points out there are advantages to working in the oil and gas sector in the U.S., where there are few protests.
“With the same equipment, Canadian people working there, and in Alberta, in Canada, we have this idea that our oil is bad,” she said.
She said regulations around the industry are more rigorous in Canada, with higher safety guidelines and supervision.
Canadians are opposing their own natural resources and turning a blind eye to what is happening elsewhere, said Knutson.
“And I think that’s a point people need to ask themselves. We have all these controls. Why are we turning a blind eye to other countries that aren’t doing anything near what we’ve been doing?”
There’s also a new trend to take safety courses online. Murray agrees some courses may be more efficient to learn that way, but a lot of safety training is hands on and cannot be mastered on a screen.
“For 25 years, we’ve been forging forward with the level of expertise you’d expect from a high-end professional,” he said.
The two said the decision to close the business is bittersweet, and is part of growing pattern in the region.
The difference between boom and bust is visible in the Edgar industrial area, said Knutson. In the mid 2000s, the drive from Highway 11A (from the Highway 2 overpass near Blue Grass Sod, Nursery and Garden Centre) to the office at Arresting You used to take about 20 minutes.
“It used to be non-stop booming. There’s no one coming into the park now.”
The difference is stark. For example, the company hasn’t had neighbours for years now.
“It was still consistently busy until 2014. With the start of winter is when things started to go down,” and they haven’t turned around, said Knutson.
The company will host an auction Oct. 26 at 7459 Edgar Industrial Bend at Bay 5 and 6.