He could have given up. Jimmy Albert had just gotten word that the company he built from scratch was burning to the ground.
Fifty years ago, Jimmy envisioned a company that would become a leading manufacturer, designer, and distributor of self-framing and rigid-framed metal buildings. After learning the ropes from his uncle, he started out on his own, manufacturing components in his garage. His first employee was his wife who broke metal panels with a neighbour while their kids napped. Almac Metal Industries Ltd. grew quickly and soon Jimmy expanded to his own shop. He worked alongside his employees, manufacturing the building components and then going out into the field to do custom installations. Almac’s growing success embodied Jimmy’s dream, thriving in the oil industry of Alberta.
On May 1, 2002, Almac went up in flames. The building was completely destroyed along with all of the equipment and inventory inside.
Keith recalls, “The night of the fire, he asked us what we wanted to do. I said we were too young to stop working. Jimmy said, ‘okay.’ He could have walked away and retired, but he didn’t.”
The next day, Jimmy went to survey the damage. Even though their jobs were gone, every single employee showed up to support Almac. At that moment Jimmy realized rebuilding was the right decision, not for himself, but for his dedicated employees. Almac’s success came from the people within its walls.
Amazingly, business resumed immediately after the fire. Almac took a six month lease on a nearby building and by the time the lease expired, its new shop at 6140-76th Avenue was ready for business. The new facility included a metal forming machine, salvaged from the fire, that Jimmy helped design himself.
Almac started as a family business and continues to instill family values into its working atmosphere. Many employees have spent their entire careers at Almac and generations of relatives from Almac’s original workers are employed by the company today.
“He really appreciated the knowledge and experience of his employees. As they got older, he had them supervising on job sites as opposed to doing manual labour, in order to pass on their expertise. There was always a place for everyone,” says Georgina.
Almac originates in Edmonton, and now has sales offices in Calgary and Vancouver. Since 2006, the company has been proudly managed by his daughter Georgina, along with Keith Hedrick and Ken Tebb. The team currently has 60 employees, and a client base that spans several sectors: oil and gas, agriculture, mini-storage, commercial buildings, and hazardous materials storage. Almac’s fingerprint can also be found in Edmonton’s community parks and school yards. If it is a custom metal building, Almac can create it.
“We also offer a line of pre-engineered building products in partnership with Star Buildings out of the US,” Ken adds.
Jimmy wanted Almac to be a wonderful place to work for the employees. Georgina, Keith and Ken ensure that the ideals the company was built on continue. “We are the only metal building company in the area that has never changed hands,” the management team points out. “That shows the strength of the company.”
This year Almac celebrates that strength with a 50th anniversary barbeque for the staff, explaining that, “Jimmy didn’t like fanfare, but after 50 years this company is still up and going, and that is what he wanted.”
Almac Metal Industries thanks its employees for their hard work and long-term dedication; it’s past, present and future clients; and Jimmy, who created something so strong, lasting and enduring, that not even a raging fire could destroy it.