South East Construction: The Easy Button for Companies
Located in the prairie providence of Canada, Saskatchewan, South East Construction (SEC) is a multi-trade industrial construction company specializing in the Potash mining and milling industry. The company, which began in 1986 as a contractor to local Potash mines in the area, has transformed into an all-in-one service provider for a wealth of industries.
“We looked at our core business and realized there was a lot more we could provide to clients. We decided to revamp ourselves from being just a contractor, to being a service provider,” say Mike Silvernagle, chief operating officer of South East Construction.
In 2010, the company began diversifying its business. It commenced an array of divisions within the company adding concrete, carpentry, electrical, earth works and site services to its repertoire.
The company also has it hands in construction and maintenance, conducting structural steel and piping for companies as well as maintenance and sites service work, including snow removal, road maintenance, water and waste removal. SEC also has a fully integrated steel fabrication and painting facility equipped with an industry leading PythonX robotic CNC plasma cutting machine as well as a full service paint shop.
South East Construction is trained and certified CWB certified, Boiler Branch Certified, ISNet registered, SCSA Certified and a member of the Saskatchewan Construction Labour Relations Association.
“It doesn’t matter what people want, we want to be the easy button for companies.”
In an effort to become the easy button for companies, SEC continuously strives to be better. The company confides in management and team members to find new ways of improving productivity, efficiency and pricing for clients.
“Continuous improvements is learning from one another and continuing to resource consultants and people within our company to help us build what we’re trying to do,” says Silvernagle. “We have a continuous improvement meeting weekly and part of the meeting is focused on changing each section to be more efficient, more streamlined and overall better for the client.”
According to Silvernagle, the goal behind its continuous improvement plan is to build trust among clients.
“It boils down to how fast you can do business when the trust component is there. Once you have trust, the speed at which you can do business is remarkable. We’ve proven the way we do business works.
The company recently invested over a quarter of a million dollars into software programs to better control costs. The investment allows SEC to be more thorough, detailed and conscious of where every penny is going.
“Trust with the client is built through safety, productivity, and cost-effectiveness,” says Silvernagle. “We made the software investment to help us control our costs so we could lower rates and provide clients with the best deal possible.”
“Our clients want to know we are managing there money properly. Trust among the client is vital, and if you have that, the client retention follows.”
Other continuous improvements include personnel. Within its organization, SEC has highly qualified people, including Construction Manager, Project Managers, Superintendents, General Foreman, Health and Safety Manager, Safety Administrators as well as numerous long term employees in foreman and tradesman positions.
However, unlike most companies, SEC doesn’t just look at qualifications.
“It’s all about character and Integrity in our business,” says Silvernagle. “I’ll browse resumes but I like to look future employees in the eye and see if they’re personal, intriguing and what they’re built like. Character is everything to me., and we want employees that will drive to ensure our clients are looked after”
Safety driven company
South East Construction is committed to a strong health, safety, and environmental program that protect employees, subcontractors, clients, property and members of the public from hard.
The company has an extensive training program for new employees that encompass a wide range of training and safety initiatives in the workforce. Along with a traditional orientation with the company, SEC has new employees go through its Safe Start program for training.
“The main question we ask is ‘what would happen if you didn't come home tonight?’ As we force them to write this down, it's amazing what happens. It hits home for people,” says Silvernagle. “After two weeks on the job we bring them back to finish the safety program. It not only helps refresh them and hold them accountable, but it shows we care about their well being.”
SEC focuses on daily assessments. This includes daily job requirements as well as everyday job hazards. It’s reviewed daily with the employee and foremen to ensure employees understand the risks each day and for each job.
In addition, South East Construction has a corporate safety manger that ensures the company goes above and beyond the call of duty in safety.
“We take safety very seriously and we like to reward employees who’ve been exceptional in that department,” says Silvernagle. “We elect an employee at each site who has gone above and beyond the safety bar and reward them a gift. We like to make it personal to show we care.
Recent projects and plans for the future
South East Construction is engaged with Potash Corp and Mosaic in a collection of new and ongoing projects around Canada. The company is involved in numerous Structural Steel , Mechanical and electrical projects on surface and underground.
“We are local to 5 mines in our area. We wouldn’t be were we are today if it wasn’t for Mosaic and PCS. They have helped us grow and supported us all the way.
Since 2011, SEC has been providing site services for the exciting new Jansen Potash mine for BHP Billiton. These services include snow removal, Dust control, Janitorial, misc carpentry, offloading , electrical maintenance, and land management. There workforce has grown to include construction of roads, ponds, potable water, septic and Hydrovac services, road building as well as concrete foundations.
“BHP Billiton’s commitment to safety and operational efficiencies is serious and it forced us to be better at what we do,” says Silvernagle. “BHP is an outstanding client to work for and we are extremely proud to there”
One of the larger, and more challenging, projects South East Construction has undertaken was rebuilding the Tazin Lake Dam for SaskPower.
“It was extremely challenging but it really represented who we are. It was a job we had no experience in but our team stuck together and got it done. The project turned out great and through all the challenges it really showed our integrity as a company.”
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.