story and photography by Joel Dryden
A leader in manufacturing equipment for the propane and anhydrous ammonia markets in Canada, the Crossfield-based MaXfield Inc. continues to grow and build its business. President Mitch DeBelser said the company works primarily in three industry segments.
“What we build is for the compressed gas industry. So that kind of gets divided into oil and gas, and HN3 which is fertilizer or propane,” DeBelser said. “We build large storage vessels for all three.”
DeBelser said those storage vessels, which make up approximately half of the company’s business, can be anywhere from 6,000 US gallons to 180,000 US gallons. The other half of the company’s business involves building what are called TC331 spec highway transport trailers.
“Those are highway transport trailers, semi-trailers that are designed to haul compressed gas. So, once again, propane or ammonia. We build transport trailers and delivery units,” DeBelser said, adding MaXfield is the largest manufacturer of TC331 trailers in Canada.
With approximately 140,000 square feet of total shop space, MaXfield’s Crossfield location employs nearly 200 people, many of whom have been with the company for decades. DeBelser said Crossfield remains a desirable place to conduct business.
“A lot of our customers, until they actually see it, they don’t believe our delivery schedule – that we can build those big of vessels in that quick of time,” he said. “It’s because we’re geared up to do it, and we’re really good at it.”
“Crossfield has a lower cost of doing business than, let’s say, Calgary. But we’re sufficiently close to Airdrie and Calgary,” DeBelser said.
Given its reputation and capacity, MaXfield could be a perfect fit for an Alberta government project to move Alberta oil by rail. DeBelser said the company has submitted a proposal to the Alberta government.
“In Alberta, there’s a lot of fabrication facilities that have a background doing primarily oil and gas work that physically could build railcars if they wanted to,” DeBelser said. “We’re the only facility that has that physical capability, but is also currently Transport Canada-certified, (which) you need to be to build railcars.”
Given the province’s promise to seek made-in-Alberta solutions to its oil woes, DeBelser said MaXfield’s capacity and capability made it a perfect fit when it came to building railcars.
“There’s no extra manufacturing jobs created by buying these cars out of Canada. Manufacturing statistically creates a more trickle-down effect than any other industry,” he said. “If you’re going to spend the money, why not spend it in Alberta? Especially if you have a partner that will do what it takes to get the certification and put the capital in place like we are.”
With the proposal in place, MaXfield will wait to receive word to see whether the government will choose its made-in-Alberta solution to the problem of transporting oil by rail. In the meantime, the company will continue to operate at its Crossfield location, continuing to provide quality product and desirable work.