Hitting Pay Dirt with High Quality Service

Knelsen Sand & Gravel

Wherever you live, wherever you’ve been, you’ve probably stood in a building made with concrete or traveled a road made of asphalt. If you live in Alberta, you’ve probably encountered the work of Knelsen Sand & Gravel Ltd., a leading provider of concrete, asphalt and aggregate throughout the area.

Knelsen provides a number of services including oilfield, highway, and municipal construction as well as aggregate material, concrete, asphalt, and transportation services. The company also provides oilfield services including well site construction, road construction, graveling, and snow plowing throughout Northern Alberta. Infrastructure services include construction, intersection and turnout treatment, remodelling and repaving, and overlay paving for all of Alberta. Municipal infrastructure construction and paving services include streets and subdivisions, parking lots, driveways, and recreational trails, with curb, sidewalk and underground installation.

The company’s concrete plants provide concrete for all residential, commercial and industrial applications, including providing high performance concrete. Knelsen also makes decretive concrete for any colour scheme, and has the capability to pump and place concrete.

The company also manufactures hot mix asphalt products at its own plants for wholesale use, sand mix for specialty work with hot oil content for patching and thin overlay, and a variety of hot mixes for different types of roads. Knelsen’s transportation services include log hauling, liquid transportation, aggregate hauling and equipment hauling services.

Craig Reid, Director of the Oilfield Construction and Aggregate Sales Division, spoke about Knelsen, its services, and its successes. “The cornerstone of the company was manufacturing gravel and concrete and hauling logs, and expanded to construction and paving in 2000,” he explains. Started in La Crete, Alberta in 1973, Knelsen began with one gravel truck excavating material from a local pit. The company used the excavated material to make concrete and set up a concrete plant in the local market. The company soon expanded, opening another plant in High Level, Alberta. Today, Knelsen has expanded with operations throughout northern Alberta, including Peace River-Grimshaw, Grande Prairie, and Cold Lake. Knelsen also provides services in Red Deer and Calgary, and transportation services in Edmonton.

One of the cornerstones of Knelsen’s success is its commitment to safety. According to the company website, its safety program is designed to protect its staff, property, and the public from accidents. Injury and illness prevention is a priority for both supervisors and employees. “Training is an ongoing thing,” says Mr. Reid. “We’re constantly trying to keep up with industry technology and safety initiatives.”

Knelsen requires strict adherence to industry standards and legislative requirements, to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. Removing hazards and keeping employees accountable is another way the company strives to keep its workers and the public safe from any potential danger. For example, when Knelsen is involved in a new highway construction project, a job hazard assessment is performed along with daily onsite safety meetings. Additionally, divisional safety meetings are held and full time safety coordinators are hired to supervise the worksite.

To guarantee the highest quality, each plant operates in accordance with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and Knelsen’s own individualized Inspection and Testing Plan (ITP). The program is administered by personnel at each plant to ensure quality and compliance. Plant managers and batch men at all of Knelsen’s locations are in constant communication with each other, providing clients with many years of expertise and experience. For its aggregates, Knelsen provides continuous in-house sieve analysis at its plants, and periodic third-party analyses are performed by independent engineering firms on its aggregate products during the manufacturing process to confirm that the company’s products meet or exceed required specifications.

Another goal of Knelsen’s is to develop and adopt best practices that protect the environment. The company continuously strives to implement the latest technologies to reduce its carbon footprint. For example, Knelsen uses by-products from coal-fired generator plants in many of its concrete mixes. Other environmentally sound practices include selling blocks made from unused concrete to make temporary walls and barriers, and designing washout plants for recycling and reusing water without any particles entering the environment. Sediments are also recycled and used as base aggregate material for road construction projects.

Other environmental accomplishments include reducing the output of smoke and exhaust emitted from the company’s asphalt plants. All of Knelsen’s asphalt plants are equipped with a baghouse recycler to incorporate dust back into the asphalt mix instead of releasing it into the air. Other methods to reduce exhaust fumes involve heating asphalt mixes with waste oil combusted at high pressure to achieve virtually 100 percent combustion, so plants can run at full capacity but emit fewer pollutants. On the company’s highway construction projects, experienced erosion and sediment control personnel oversee the workers to make sure they adhere to standards. The company is also equipped to handle any asphalt spill, and material safety data sheets are always onsite so workers are aware of the type of materials they’re handling.

Knelsen has a proven track record of success, having worked on a number of extensive projects throughout Alberta over the years, including the new hospital in Grande Prairie and a high rise office complex in Red Deer. The company has also been involved with highway paving projects in Alberta, including Highways 58 and 43 in the province. While the company has been successful in its endeavors, it still has its challenges. “Our business is capital intensive,” Mr. Reid shares. “We need lots of expensive equipment and concrete and asphalt plants that cost several million dollars. We’re in a competitive industry that has major multinational players with lots of resources and power, so competition is tough.”

However, Knelsen has a home-field advantage. “We are locally owned and operated, so decision making isn’t a long process; we can act or react faster so we can be more responsive to our clients. We pride ourselves on giving good, timely service. That’s why our company has grown so much; the owner is always focused on delivering quality products in a timely manner.”

Maintaining strong relationships with its vendors is another way Knelsen distinguishes itself from its competitors. “In the concrete sector, most often we are a subcontractor to the general building contractor,” explains Mr. Reid. “There are a few we deal with fairly regularly; I’d like to think it’s because we deliver a quality product, when they need it, and on time. If there is a crew needing to lay concrete, we make sure it’s there on time and that it’s a quality product. We want to make sure we meet their expectations, because if we don’t, we all lose.”

The booming economy in Alberta has also worked in Knelsen’s favor. “The province’s economy is still growing, especially in the oil & gas, forestry, and property development sectors. There have been periods of slowdown but overall, the economy has been strong, and many of the areas we serve have been growing. For example, there have been approximately 500 housing starts in Grande Prairie, and we’ve been supplying many homebuilders with concrete products.”

Future plans for the company include completion of the hospital in Grande Prairie, upcoming announcements in the oil & gas sector, and aggressively pursuing more provincial and municipal infrastructure contracts. “We are looking to expand and get involved in supplying aggregate construction products in the oil & gas industry,” says Mr. Reid. “We’re already established with paving roads, constructing hospitals [and other buildings] so this is a new venture that we’ve taken on in last three years.”

For over four decades, Knelsen Sand & Gravel, Ltd. has made a commitment to providing high quality concrete, asphalt, and aggregate materials in a variety of sectors throughout Alberta. According to Reid, the company looks to continuously grow in the future by following a simple philosophy.

“We like to perceive ourselves as being trustworthy, dependable, reliable, and knowledgeable of the products we provide for our market,” says Mr. Reid. “We look to have steady growth, and we are always trying to improve and enhance facilities we run out of in order to create our products with the highest quality and safety standards.”

For more information about Knelsen Sand & Gravel, please visit http://www.knelsen.com/