What’s old is new again for KRJ and Pongo Holdings

Estevan – On the very far east side of Estevan’s industrial parks in the RM of Estevan, lies the KRJ Industrial Park, now home to Lavoie Mobile Cleaning, Captive Oilfield Rentals, Stampede Drilling, AECOM, part of Turnbull Redimix and KRJ Custom Fabricating Ltd, itself. In the past year, there’s been some shuffling, as KRJ, and its sister company, Pongo Holdings, are back where they started in the industrial park, in the southeast corner.

Ken Mehler, partner in the outfit, explained that the industrial park was built 11 years ago. The shop in the southeast corner was built first, about 10 years ago. This was right when the Bakken boom hit the region.

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Halliburton, one of the largest oilfield services companies in the world, was eager to return to Estevan. They came knocking.

“They wanted a shop, ASAP (as soon as possible),” Mehler recalled, and they didn’t want to wait. With a 10-year lease in hand, KRJ auctioned off their equipment, gave up their own shop, and started building a new shop, next door, to the north. They bought all new equipment and started up again, continuing in the fabrication business.

In 2010, ATCO set up a camp to the north of the new KRJ shop, which they kept for five years. That took up another five acres. The camp remained, empty, for another 1.5 years before it was sold off and much of it removed.

Halliburton stayed for 8.5 years, but was empty for about two years, having decamped for Regina before eventually shutting down operations in the Queen City not long after. They paid off their lease in Estevan.

That led to AECOM, in this past year, looking for additional shop space in Estevan, as it consolidated operations in the Energy City, moving out of Lampman, where predecessor company, Carson Energy Services, was based.

“AECOM was looking for a shop, so we rented the second one to them, and we movbed back here” Mehler said. That happened in July.

KRJ is still building its specialty toolboxes and doing repairs, he said, working with local coal mines and SaskPower. Pongo Holdings’ frac water business has been slow.

Mehler said, “The word is surviving. That’s about it.”

The wo companies have eight people working for them now, down from 11 in 2014.

“Our saving grace has been the mines. They’ve been good to us,” he added, noting 30 years of history working with the local mines.

These days they get very few resumes anymore. “There’s nobody left,” Mehler said.  

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