Home Month and Year The Visionary Formula: Hard Work + Local Focus = Success

The Visionary Formula: Hard Work + Local Focus = Success

Don Pierce celebrates 25 years in business

Don Pierce. Photo by Rebecca Lippiatt.

Pierce Co. Manufacturers Ltd. and Weather All Shelters help you cover your assets, thanks to high-quality, custom-sewn canvas, vinyl and polyethylene tarpaulin, welding tents and blankets, equipment covers and shelters. The main industries serviced are within the oil and gas sectors; however, as a custom manufacturer, a variety of industries (farm, commercial, storage, residential, industrial) look to both brands for solutions, from custom canvas and mesh tarps to durable quonset-style shelters.

“We are very proud to say that everything we sell is manufactured locally,” says Owner Don Pierce. Within this segment of our industry, Pierce Co. Manufacturers has a wealth of experience in providing high-quality, portable structures anywhere, from oil and gas sites to the local farmer. We are proud of our custom industrial fabrics (tarps and covers) division, which has been a large part of our success over the years.”

Pierce continues, “We are one of very few in Canada that has the CSA A660 program to meet or exceed the building code for portable buildings. To date, there is no site in North America where we cannot produce and deliver our products.”

The man behind the brands built up both companies through a mix of talent, hard work and sheer determination and grit. He founded his manufacturing company in 1997, but admits that, at the time, “I had absolutely no idea of where I was going and I had very little money!”

It all started when Pierce was removed from the company he worked with, being replaced by new personnel that had close relationships with the new management team. At the time, Pierce had a ninth-grade education and zero business experience. But he had plenty of manufacturing experience, along with an iron will and a drive to carry on despite the setback. So, like many of today’s most successful entrepreneurs, he turned his garage into a shop and plunged forward.

With some help from friends and family, Pierce Co. Manufacturers took off. The garage was traded for a 15,000-square-foot shop on the south side of Edmonton. Eight years later, that was traded up to a 4,000-square-foot shop. Growth continues at a pace of 20 per cent per year.

Pierce says with pride, “For the last 16 years, we have been operating out of the west side of Edmonton, and the growth has been nonstop. We now have four locations, including a brand new 8,000 square foot shop exclusively for building portable building covers. We also have 20,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 2.5 acres of yard. In the fall of 2018, we purchased the assets of a local portable building company to help foster our ability to provide quality shelter products with the additional experience and workforce we obtained. The purchase was a perfect fit, bringing on welders, sewing machine operators, installers, a graphic team leader and so many others who have helped bring us to where we are today.

Going from being out of work and starting up in a garage to having multiple locations across two businesses, a laser focus on locally made shelters and covers and a team of collaborative specialists, Pierce Co. Manufacturers and Weather All Shelters meets – and exceeds – the needs of clients in Western Canada, and beyond.

Although he took the risk in starting out on his own, Pierce considers the team to be the biggest part of his brands’ success.

“I really owe most of the success to my staff,” he admits. “I’ve worked in the field for many years and understand what it takes to keep all my employees; it involves showing respect for them and their families each and every day. We spend 45 per cent of our lives at our jobs, and a happy employee means a happy work family. We probably pay about 10 to 20 per cent higher than others in our industry simply because we appreciate our people and we want them to enjoy coming to work every day.”

However, staffing can also be an issue. Pierce explains, “My greatest challenge today is acquiring more experienced staff to keep up with the steady growth in our companies. The price of oil is expected to go over $125 per barrel in the near future. This brings on more drilling activity, which in return drives up the need for our products. With all the new pipelines, there is a need to keep product flowing at all times.”

Despite having multiple locations, steady growth and a positive future ahead for both brands, Pierce remains humble and grateful. 

“I wasn’t handed the companies by anyone. I started both companies from scratch. I have a grade nine education and no business degree; but I am the 100 per cent shareholder, to the surprise of many. Honestly, being a businessperson hasn’t changed me much, I don’t think. I do have a few things I enjoy that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have had. I get to go away golfing and boating, but I’ve grown into a workaholic, so a week away is very hard for me.”

He continues, “As for the businesses, we have survived through a lot of things over the past 25 years, including the economy, oil and gas demands fluctuating and now COVID variances. We survived it all. So, when looking for a product like ours, remember one thing: will they be able to provide that service in the years to come? We have proven that we can.”

As the brands grow, Pierce is steadfast about retaining their local identity. “We manufacture all the components locally, including the fabric covers. We are proud to tell our clients that we have the highest quality and that they are supporting local manufacturers.

“I love Edmonton business because I believe in shopping locally. I support it, and I expect it simply because I’ve seen a lot of products similar to ours, but without the same integrity. Most of the offshore products have given our type of products a bad name. I encourage all to shop local because we need to support our workers in our own industry.”

It’s been an interesting 25 years for Pierce, and the rapid trajectory makes it hard for him to slow down. Yet, he knows the value of work/life balance.

“These days, I’m looking at trying to step back and see what the next step is,” Pierce confirms. “I’m trying to spend some quality family time. Building a business takes you away from all of that, and it has certainly affected my life. Life has gone by me very fast. If I did it all again, I would do it as a family business just to spend the time together.”

He does have to chuckle, though, as he draws parallels between then and now.

“In 1997, I purchased a computer and had to read the instructions to turn it on. Today, like everything else, I throw the instructions away and can manage around a computer very well. I can even do some accounting duties.”

“I would have to say,” he concludes, “that my most memorable moment was waking up one day and realizing that the hundreds of hours, weekends, days, working holidays and sleepless nights had finally paid off. The businesses are successful.”

12871 170 Street NW,
Edmonton, AB T5V 1L8
780-448-9659 || www.PierceColtd.com