The Best in Fluid Motion and Control

CG Industrial Specialties

Growing up working in the family business, devoting and dedicating your early years to the company and gaining, not only a firm understanding of the business from a young age, but also a work ethic that drives you forward into adulthood is a story replicated countless times around the world. Yet few of these stories result in the global success of CG Industrial Specialties (CGIS), a noted supplier of severe service valves, isolation valves and controls.

Ross Waters grew up working for his father’s company, which was primarily engaged in the manufacturing business. The company was also involved in the distribution of industrial products but, as Ross puts it, his father “didn’t particularly like” this side of the business and preferred to focus on manufacturing. This preference was not mirrored by his son, however. Ross purchased the distribution arm of the company in 1980 and CG Industrial Specialties was born.

The company started out in British Columbia and, in its first ten years, experienced steady and gradual growth. When asked about the biggest single contributing factor to the enormous growth that the company has subsequently enjoyed, Ross is unequivocal in his response: “It was caused by the move, in 1990, to Alberta. We started in British Columbia, and the industrial background of BC at that time was not very diverse – certainly very little severe industrial applications. Most of it was pulp and paper or less challenging process industries.”

It was at this time of expansion, coupled with its move to Alberta, that CG Industrial Specialties was faced with its largest challenge to date. With the province’s diverse industries, such as oil and gas, Ross says there was a steep learning curve for the company, and its level of expertise needed to increase to meet the demands of new industries. In addition to a larger market of competitors, the requirements of supplying the oil and gas industry were far more rigorous than anything the company had previously experienced. “If you look at the world of processing, how you make things work with piping, pulp and paper isn’t that difficult. There are a lot more difficult applications within oil and gas and mining.”

Niche in the market
The company soon noticed a transformation in the industry. From the 1960s until the 1990s, the expertise in the industry was largely either client or manufacturer held. The professionals who understood the physics of the industry were on either side of this business transaction. This meant that the distributor was little more than a middle man who transported equipment from manufacturer to client.

This move forced CGIS to re-evaluate how it was operating. CGIS recognized that the professional expertise in the industry was diminishing, largely through not replacing workers who were retiring, but also through the expertise being outsourced as a cost-cutting measure. Ross recognizes that it was the conscious decision to build in-house expertise of the minutiae of the industry that has helped CGIS become the industry force that is it today. “We found that we could provide that value (added along with the goods themselves) and that is how we have built our business.”

Notwithstanding the fact that professionals with a critical knowledge of the business were losing their standing in the industry, CGIS made the bold decision to prioritize this expertise in order to broaden its own skill base and provide a much more efficient service to its clients. It was vital for CGIS that it find people who, along with the prerequisite knowledge of physics, chemistry, controls and hydraulics, also had the all-important direct experience of working with valves. It was this decision to improve a knowledge base that led CGIS to build and maintain lasting working relationships.

However, as Ross points out, it is not enough to stand still in this industry. There are increasing pressures to provide efficiency and professionalism while, most importantly, continuing to give value to clients. “You can’t stand still these days; just doing what you did last year isn’t good enough.”

This desire to constantly grow has led to CGIS expanding its operations outside of Canada. On average, forty percent of its business is now overseas. However, this figure is constantly changing as CGIS’s overseas operations are largely project based with an office in Australia and partners in Peru, Chile and Malaysia.

While Ross is adamant that the company’s headquarters will always be in Canada, there are imminent plans to expand into Australia and open an office in Perth. “We are already doing business (and have been for the past ten years) in Australia, but we had been doing it through a local distributor partner. This year, we are going to do it on our own.” Ross sees Australia as the next large growth area. He feels that CGIS is very well placed to capitalise on this growth and he puts this down to the similarities between the two countries. “They have resources like Canada does. It is very similar in mining and they have tremendous oil and gas facilities already, they have got tremendous mineral wealth. Where we have done very well in Canada, it translates very well into Australia.”

In terms of its competitors, Ross sees CGIS as standing somewhat alone in the market. While other companies may also be valve distributors, the fact that CGIS specializes in severe service valves sets it apart in an industry where the ability to provide a unique service is paramount. More importantly, it has a willingness to engage meaningfully with the client face to face that truly provides value to the client.

The investment in developing and maintaining expertise has added benefits in that the company can offer a tailored and specialist service to clients. “We know how the valve affects his operation and his application. We know how to get from him the information that we need to offer him the best valve.” By understanding the needs of its clients, CGIS is in a position to offer a bespoke level of service that is unavailable elsewhere.

CGIS also prides itself on procuring and providing the highest standard of valves. Ross is confident that in its product base and links with the world’s top manufacturers, the company has industry leading solutions for its clients’ applications. “We have trademarked the world’s best valves.” One such product, manufactured by ValvTechnologies is the zero leakage metal seated ball valve. ValvTechnologies prides itself on providing an unsurpassed level of reliability in the power, mining, hydrocarbon, oil & gas, pulp and paper industries.

The future for CGIS
Looking to the future, Ross accepts that research plays a huge part in maintaining CGIS’s place as an industry leader in the valve business. The need to discover more cost effective and efficient ways of accessing resources is part of the company’s strategy to develop the in-house expertise that it recognized as lacking all those years ago. “We have invested internally here. We broke ground a year and a half ago and built a new facility here in Vancouver. In that facility, we build what we called a Control and Instrument Demonstrator, a flow loop. So we have invested internally – to train our own people but also to allow our client to believe objectively that what we are saying is true. We can prove it.”

The company is always looking to improve existing designs if possible to yield the best possible results for all concerned. This means that there is a need to have continuous dialogue with its clients to ensure that the service CGIS is providing is still effective. The need for honest appraisal and feedback of the needs and requirements of a client is as important as the needs from the distributing and manufacturing point of view.

“There is no perfect valve. There is no perfect valve design and there never will be. The best valves are the ones where the most information is exchanged. That means that there has to be a partnership between the client and the provider. We have to understand each other completely.”

This desire for engagement is at the core of CGIS’s model. It offers a level of expertise which is otherwise lost in the industry and by building close working relationships with its clients, it is confident of keeping these business bonds far into the future.

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