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Piling Canada Q4 is here!

Courtesy of Doublestar DrillingWhen it comes to complicated projects, Doublestar Drilling rises to the challenge

By Judy Penz Sheluk

When Ian Hunt, president of Doublestar Drilling, purchased the company eight years ago, he believed there was a solid opportunity to grow the business. His vision was bang on. Since that

time, Hunt has tripled revenues, gone from four drill rigs to more than 20 drill rigs, and in October 2014, expanded the Edmonton headquarters to a 16,000-square foot state-of-the-art facility. But the growth doesn’t stop there. In 2011, Doublestar Drilling established a location in Regina to cover the Saskatchewan market, in a move Hunt calls, “very successful.” On May 1, 2015, they opened a third location in Calgary, complete with ten acres of property, after “aggressively pursuing the Calgary market.”

That sort of growth isn’t fostered by being satisfied with the status quo. To Hunt, this translated to significantly adding to the company’s scope of services, which now include large diameter bored piles, every type of shoring, secant and tangent piling, in-house engineering, static load testing, segmental casing, mini-piling to get into tight spaces, vibratory hammer work, crane work and CFA drilling. In 2012, Doublestar expended its fleet into micropiling and anchor installation. The company currently has a fleet of nine micro-piling machines and a fleet of 10 mobile grouting operations.

Doublestar is also the largest belled pile contractor in Western Canada.

“It’s a lost art, and not many do it,” said Hunt, “but this area of Western Canada is suitable for belled piles, which are dependent on soil conditions. We have the capability to install belled piles up to six metres in diameter.”

Putting employees first
Hunt is quick to credit much of the company’s success and growth to his employees.

“What separates Doublestar Drilling is that we are non-union and most of our employees have 15-plus years with the company. Some have 25. I’m cognizant of the fact that these people want to be home in their own beds at night, and so we concentrate our work in cities. This philosophy has kept our labour force strong and loyal, and allowed us to grow the business in a market that’s sustainable.”

With a full-time safety department led by Willis Larose, the company’s health, safety and environmental director, Doublestar Drilling also boasts the lowest number of safety incidents in the industry, with a WCB assessment rate currently 31 per cent below industry average.

“We have a very strict safety protocol,” said Larose. “We’ve created our own in-house safety program, and in conjunction, a state-of-the-art fleet maintenance schedule that operates off GPS. This allows us, from our head office in Edmonton, to know the hours on a machine, as well as when it was moving and when it stopped. Basically, it tracks everything an operator is doing, and provides accurate data for preventative maintenance.”

The company also places a very high value on education. Extensive operator training includes both in-house equipment operator trainers, and employment of outside agencies. Additionally, senior crewmembers are paired with junior crewmembers.

“Statistically, and this is across Canada, workers are most prone to getting injured on the job between the ages of 18 to 25,” said Larose. “Our motto is ‘Worker taking care of worker,’ and we all take that responsibility very seriously. There are also weekly safety meetings, daily tailgate meetings and daily onsite risk assessment meetings to identify and control hazards. Attendance is mandatory.”

Notable projects
Doublestar Drilling is rapidly becoming the go-to company in Western Canada when it comes to undertaking challenging projects. One such case was the Calgary International Airport overpass expansion, which involved completing a critical slope of standard piling and shoring work, while solving the problem of completing two- to four-metre rock sockets in only 14 feet of headroom.

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.