by Pat Rediger Pat Rediger

GCL makes the switch from construction to sales, rental and repair

No one knows the ups and downs of the Saskatchewan economy better than Treverr Poole. When the oil and gas industry was booming and potash was thriving from 2008–13, his company, Garry’s Construction Ltd. (GCL) was thriving with 50 employees and upwards of 70 pieces of equipment. After oil and gas dried up, potash took a downturn and then the pandemic hit, his crews and equipment sat idle at his facility in Edam.

That’s when he made the crucial decision to pivot into a new business. GCL now specializes in heavy equipment sales and rentals and he formed a complimentary company, Garry’s Heavy Repair (GHR), which provides heavy duty mechanics for truck and trailer sales.

“There was a time when we were making good money and my crew were getting well paid, but it was very stressful. Then in 2014 the oil and gas industry crashed and big projects were cancelled. It got really quiet for about nine months and we didn’t have much income coming in. It was pretty scary. I’d been through ups and downs before but I could tell that this was different and there wasn’t going to be a big comeback like before,” said Poole.

With the construction side fading, the company’s heavy duty mechanical work began to take on more importance. GHR was operating in a 15,000 square foot facility with an overhead crane for repairing his equipment. Poole began expanding into repairing other equipment, such as farm trucks and trailers, and that seemed to be the future.

Another factor that led him to exit the construction business was the death of his two long-term foremen within a few months of each other. One succumbed to cancer and another to a heart attack. Some of the members of his crew found other jobs while the company waited for other work to come in, and while the pay may have been less, they were assured of a paycheque. This discouraged them from returning to the construction industry.

Poole contacted his friends at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers and decided to sell his construction equipment. Once he recognized the tax implications from the sale, he agreed to keep about 20 pieces that he could use as rentals. The equipment includes dozers, track hoes, scrapers, compactors, rock trucks and much more. Today, his equipment can be found at a provincial government irrigation project near Swift Current, at an elevator site near Kindersley and at various road construction projects in different areas of the province.

Although GCL has been involved in numerous heavy construction projects over the years and Poole has been asked to bid on other projects that have come up, he’s content to stay focused on sales, rentals and repair. He has no intention of returning to the construction side of the business.

“Now I don’t have to deal with projects and timelines that impact my weekends. Now it’s like any other business and we can shut the door at the end of the day. Before it could be seven-days-a-week and sometimes 24-hours-a-day,” he said.

“Now it’s like any other business and we can shut the door at the end of the day. Before it could be seven-days-a-week and sometimes 24-hours-a-day.”

– Treverr Poole, GCL and GHR

GCL Origins

GCL traces its roots back Poole’s father, Gary, who started in the industry in the late 1960s by building roads for a local construction company. After serving as foreman for a while, he decided to strike out on his own and formed GCL in 1974.

“He probably started with five pieces of equipment and had about 10 guys working at any given time. It was all road construction work and a bit of oil. He didn’t go looking for work but rather took work when it came to his door,” said Poole.

Poole started working at the company while just a teenager and began running things when he turned 22 in 1994. Over the years, the company worked on a variety of major projects including Husky Oil fields, the Kramer Tractor facility and an industrial park – all near North Battleford. GCL also constructed the road between Highway 16 and Battleford and did considerable work for the BHP Jansen Potash Mine site.

“We were doing potash work here and then over here we were doing oilfield work. We were really, really busy. I remember those days because people asked me if you’re busy and I would say that it just couldn’t get any busier. There just weren’t any more operators and equipment to work on more projects.”

But by 2015, it was becoming clear to Poole that the days of the major projects were coming to an end. He had also reached many of the goals he had set up for himself when he became the owner – hitting his sales targets and achieving financial independence. So it was time to move onto the next opportunity.

His cousin Darcy took charge of GHR and it has become a successful operation since large vehicles in the area always need to be maintained and repaired.

“There are still trucks going up and down the highway and they need to be repaired. Even combines need to be serviced. Farmers run large operations and they don’t want to fix large equipment so we are able to do that for them.”

The Next Generation

Just like when Poole took over from his father, his own son has shown an interest in the business. Trayton can often be found lending a hand at GHR and visiting auction sales to see if there is equipment that can be purchased and repaired so it can be either rented or sold. As the next generation becomes more involved in the business, Poole says his father still enjoys visiting the company and seeing how things are progressing.

GCL has been a SHCA member for many years and Poole said they likely joined when his father was still in charge. He says it is important to be a member to get the latest information and to know that the industry is being supported and promoted.

“This is a new and exciting time for our business,” he said. “It’s even a little bit scary, but it’s also exciting to see what can be done with this new venture and to see how it will turn out.” 

All photos courtesy of GCL