Fraserwoods Fabrication and Machining Ltd.-An Interview with Lavern Kovlaske

Fraserwoods Fabrication and Machining Ltd. is a rotating equipment repair company based in Western Canada. The company began operations in 2001 and since then they have grown to become the leaders in PD (positive displacement) blower and vacuum pump repairs for the mobile equipment and stationary industrial service markets. All repairs are performed in-house at their modern facility using OEM approved repair procedures and best practices. They are a PD blower one-stop-service-and-supply-shop to all 50 states and Canada.
Increasingly American based operators and fleets are choosing Fraserwoods as their go-to supplier for vacuum truck and hydrovac blower service and repair. They work closely with companies who rely on vacuum/pressure blowers and vacuum pumps to keep their operations moving forward. Mobile equipment such as vacuum trucks, hydrovac excavators, septic & water trucks and other liquid waste haulers are just some of their mainstay customers. The amount industries that use the blowers and pumps they repair are impressive, spanning industries such as oil & gas, mining, pulp & paper, power generation, municipal wastewater and food process plants.
One of the key selling points of their business is that their knowledgeable staff are not only experts in the equipment they service but the ease at which they arrange the sending and receiving of units for repair from all over North America. Pre-filled shipping documents make that possible, making clear, Fraserwoods’ service and customer focused commitment. Visit them at www.frasherwoods.ca to learn more about their repair and supply services. They also have a comprehensive document library available on their website ( www.frasherwoods.ca) for anyone looking for all kinds of blower or pump documentation. Here are some additional thoughts about the company from the Owner and President, Lavern Kovlaske.

How was Fraserwoods started?
I started Fraserwoods in 2001, with a focus on quality repairs for different types of rotating equipment. I had a background doing similar kinds of repairs for companies I had worked for previously. Back then, my mindset was that starting a company that specialized in rotating equipment repairs like PD blowers or vacuum pumps, used in so many applications, across so many industries would be something Fraserwoods could really be successful at. I enjoyed the work and enjoyed training people to do it too. As the number of mobile equipment OEMs increased with the good economic times, our focus became very much on the mobile equipment market.

Tell me where you are located?
We’re located in the Acheson Industrial Park, which is 5 minutes West of Edmonton, Alberta. Being centrally located allows our customers to bring their units to us easily, without having to enter the city limits. Also, we are located South of Ft. McMurray which is the largest reservoir of crude bitumen in the world and the largest of three major oil sands deposits in our Province. Our location positions us to service a lot of units that are directly involved in the oil & gas industry. That being said, we are also on a major ground and air transport routes so we can ship our equipment anywhere in North America.
What kind of investments have you made in newer technology in the past few years?
Quite a few actually. Investments in new technology are as important to our business as our trades people. This year we’ve invested in another new high-speed precision lathe and a new vertical and horizontal milling machine which can handle much larger and heavier jobs. That’s on the machining side, our trades technicians use quite a bit of specialized tooling. We invested in a high end bearing induction heater a few years back, allowing for more precise and even bearing installations. One of our biggest investments to date was our purchase of a Schenk Balancing & Diagnostic System. When customers send their units in for repair they want to know that the rotors inside their equipment are dynamically balanced to the highest degree possible. ISO standards call for these types of rotors to be balanced at Grade 2.5, our balancing machine allows us to achieve Grade 0.63, surpassing ISO 1940-1:2003 Mechanical Vibration guidelines. New technology allows my team to work more efficiently, with a higher degree of precision and ultimately increased reliability on our customer’s units, which is what they want.

How is your staff trained?
Our staff is trained hands on. Our technical team has many years of industry experience and spends time a good deal of time on the shop floor. We make sure that our staff knows as much about the equipment we service as possible. That’s why we participate in industry and factory training programs and encourage questions and open communication between departments. In fact, if you come to our shop you are just a likely to see someone from the office on the shop floor as our trades technicians.
How is your website a good reference for people who are interested in PD blowers and vacuum pump documentation?
In the first quarter of 2016, I recognized the need for an online document library for this kind of equipment. There’s a lot of service manuals and spec sheets that are hard to find because the equipment is obsolete or discontinued, sometimes by 20 years. More calls were coming in to track this stuff down and it just seemed logical to have it all in one place. Operators in the field or fleet mechanics visit our site all time for all sorts of different blower or vacuum pump documentation. In the past, customers would call in to talk to our technical team, but this streamlines the process. We’ve embraced PDF fillable forms that allow us to receive information, and respond to our customers much faster. If someone isn’t very familiar with the blower on their truck they can use one of our forms and know the exact rotation and orientation without having to send pictures and go through the 20 questions game. This can be done on a cellphone, in the field if need be.

Describe your company’s focus on quality.
Quality at Fraserwoods isn’t just a tag line. From our first day in business, I’ve made sure that our repairs and remanufactured units are done right. Everyone who works here knows how important reliability is when it comes to rotating equipment. Getting it right the first time and meeting our QA standards is very much a part of our company culture. We employ the most experienced trades technicians. We invest in new technology and modern tooling. We test the equipment we repair prior to customer delivery, guaranteeing there are no reliability issues once it leaves our shop. In the end, we back up our work with a solid six month warranty after our equipment goes into service. We have an extremely low percentage of rework performed every year. I’m proud of that, so is my team. Everyone here is committed to quality.

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