Almita builds on roots in the community

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  • Jun. 29, 2011 4:00 p.m.
Larry Henkelman

Larry Henkelman

CHARLES TWEED/Ponoka News

Almita Piling Inc. is built on a solid foundation.

The company, which is built on its signature screw piles, held its grand opening of two new buildings June 24.

The grand opening began with a demonstration where a screw pile was screwed into the ground outside of the new building. In a matter of minutes the pile disappeared into the ground.

The company, which employs more than 140 people, needed the added space to keep up with the demand for screw piles across the province, country and world — something that wasn’t always that way.

“It was an uphill struggle to convince people of the merits of screw piles. I’m not an engineer to begin with and that made it tough and is why we went to the University of Alberta,” said Adrien Trudeau, who founded the company in 1992.

The work the University of Alberta did researching screw piles served to dispel some of the myths that the piles weren’t as good as more conventional concrete piles.

The expansion will improve Almita’s processing capabilities with increased automation, improved workflows and communication.

Almita has become part of the fabric of Ponoka. The plant has offered an opportunity for residents to work close to home and has also brought immigrants to work at the plant to build the community.

“When we decided to sell part of the businesses it was part of the conditions that whoever bought it had to make sure it stayed here,” said Trudeau.

“Right now about 150 people work here and by October we’re scheduled to increase that by about another 100.”

Trudeau said the watershed moment or tipping point for the company came when they won the contract to build a transmission line for Atco.

Premier Ed Stelmach wasn’t at the grand opening but he did record a video message, calling Almita a “made in Alberta success story.”

The video tribute preceded the ribbon cutting and talked to employees about what they were looking forward to in the new buildings. It was evident in their answers the workers feel as connected to Almita as the community of Ponoka and might have been summed up best by one welder, who said he was looking forward to “installing piles and kicking ass.”