Oct 27, 2021
Flaman Launches First Storefront Location in Peace River Region
1. join together (metal pieces or parts) by heating the surfaces to the point of melting using a blowtorch, electric arc, or other means, and uniting them by pressing, hammering, etc.
2. cause to combine and form a harmonious or effective whole.
The bond between Flaman and Dunvegan Fab & Welding has made both parties stronger – not to mention what it’s done for life in the Peace River Country.
It was officially forged at the beginning of March 2021, when Flaman Sales purchased the busy shop from Trevor Kerschbaumer of Kerba Group. But Flaman’s relationship with DF&W goes back for years, and its presence in the Peace River Country goes back even further.
Flaman’s Presence in the Peace River Country
Frank Flaman got to know the beautiful Peace River Country well, travelling through it extensively in the 1980s. It didn’t take long for him to see how Flaman could serve this productive agricultural region. Over the years, several area businesses incorporated Flaman Rentals into their product/service offering.
These businesses now operate in Fahler, LaCrete, Grande Prairie, and High Prairie in Alberta and Dawson Creek in BC. However, the opening of the Peace Country’s first Flaman storefront operation is a very recent development.
Dunvegan Fab & Welding
Norm McLachlan opened his first welding shop on the family farm in the mid-90s. Around 2003, the demand for agricultural welding and fabrication spurred him to open a second shop in Fairview, Alberta. In 2011, in response to his customers’ needs, McLachlan expanded his in-town operation to include Flaman Rentals.
Dunvegan Fab & Welding wasn’t the first Fairview shop to offer Flaman Rentals, but the partnership clicked. As in other agricultural regions, Flaman’s selection of rental products was the perfect fit for farmers in short-term need of expensive equipment.
The Rental Advantage
We rent grain vacs, disc harrows, heavy harrows, rock rakes, rock pickers, and bale carts,” says Tina Gelech, in charge of Flaman Peace Country Administration.
She adds a mower, bio spreader, and grain bin mover to that list – as well as two or more post pounders, grain bin cranes, stock trailers, gooseneck trailers, and flat-deck trailers.
Customers have also been able to rent man lifts, scissor lifts, and even a washroom car for leisurely family and community gatherings. Renting makes economical sense, Gelech says.
“When you're looking at a 60 foot set of disc harrows that costs like 160 grand. That's a big payment if you only need to do 1,000 acres. You’re going to take the one-time payment versus paying $160,000.” Before Flaman’s arrival, the region’s counties and municipal districts were a farmer’s only rental resource.
McLachlan’s successful record of customer service and his relationship with Flaman continued until 2017, when he sold Dunvegan Fab & Welding to Kerba Group, which in turn sold the operation to Flaman this March. Becoming the region’s first full-fledged Flaman distributor brought some changes to Dunvegan Fab & Welding, but some things remain as they were before.
The Flaman Fairview location is now a hub, meaning it also shares its equipment with Falher, Grande Prairie, and Dawson Creek. That makes for some long delivery drives, especially with some roads having 60 km per hour speed limits. It’s one of a few new responsibilities that Regional Manager Kevin Kulak and his staff are working to streamline.
It’s been hard to gauge how the new status has affected farm equipment rentals. That’s because the weather has been the predominant deciding factor in 2021.
“This year, the discs have been in and out all summer because of the weird weather we've had,” Gelech says. “Lots of people started discing way earlier this year because there was nothing growing in the field. So why wait until fall?”
More Staff to Do More Stuff
However, some benefits of storefront status are more tangible. For instance, the Walinga Blower Systems sold through Flaman are customized to meet the needs of each individual farmer. That calls for more of the expert welding and fabricating the Fairview shop was built upon and delivers 40 hours a week.
The business also offers these services onsite. This has resulted in the hiring of another welder and another potential hiring in the future.
The shop’s even brought on a full-time “security guard” – a brown tabby with the imposing moniker of “Miss Kitty” (AKA “Missy.”) She mops up on any opportunistic mice daring to take advantage of an open shop bay door. Not surprisingly, this fierce feline is a hit with the customers. So is the service.
The Future of Fairview, Flaman, and Farming
Tina Gelech says dealing with the customers is the best part of her job. New faces are always refreshing. Greeting them with a friendly smile and thorough attention is one of Tina’s many responsibilities. These include invoicing, record-keeping, managing rentals, and reporting to the Alberta headquarters in Nisku.
Gelech says the aim is to build a fully stocked store modeled after Flaman’s Nisku, Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge locations. That plan is good news for Fairview – a town of around 3,000 souls keenly interested in a thriving agriculture-based economy.
The Peace Region represents Canada’s northernmost agriculture-ready lands – over 5.8 million acres for canola, oats, peas, barley, cattle ranching, and honey bees. Since Western Canada’s last great wave of agricultural settlement in the 1910s, farmers have survived the great depression, mosquito-bitten summers, bitter winters, droughts, and floods.
Today, Peace River farmers set the pace for agricultural seed production and own 14% of Canada’s bison-producing herd. New challenges will undoubtedly arise, but they’ll be met by a resilient community always plowing toward that next goal.
“Everybody's always happy when a business is growing versus moving out of town,” Gelech says. Signs like the town’s first Tim Hortons location inspire hope, but you still have to venture to a bigger center to buy a pair of jeans.
That’s one of many things Flaman’s new storefront location is helping to change.