Building the Brand

01 May 2008

A typical application for Aluma's Surelock scaffolding on a semi-submersible drilling rig undergoing

A typical application for Aluma's Surelock scaffolding on a semi-submersible drilling rig undergoing a major refit at the Friede Goldman Offshore West yard in Pascagoula, Mississippi

There is no doubt that Brand Services has ambitious plans for its future. Having just acquired Aluma Enterprises Inc and There is no doubt that Brand Services hasadded the and Middle/Far East concrete construction activities to its portfolio, the combined company is planning for accelerated growth. “Currently we are going through the process of integrating the Aluma and Brand operations, and we continue to examine potential acquisitions and organic growth potential in areas where we believe there are opportunities to further develop the business,” says Dave Witsken, Brand's vice president of business development.

So why the Aluma acquisition? “Buying Aluma gives us an immediate major, well-established and recognized presence in markets where Brand had little or no presence. A second factor that pointed towards our acquiring Aluma to achieve this is the fact that we believed that both companies have very similar corporate philosophies, with similar business approaches and methods. This suggested that it would be easy to integrate the two operations” says Mr Witsken.

Branding strategy

Brand will retain the Aluma name long term, with the Canadian scaffolding business and concrete construction continuing to operate under that name, while all scaffolding operations in the USA will be under the Brand name: “The Aluma name has a strong reputation in the markets where it operates, so we feel that it is not sensible to drop it,” says Mr Witsken. “The integration of the company is going well. Our people are positive about the situation.

We are fortunate to have retained key people that we need to ensure success.”

In an official statement, Brand president and CEO Paul Wood amplifies this: “The Brand and Aluma organizations share common values and culture in the areas of safety, integrity, quality and customer service, which is facilitating a successful integration process.”

The new organization has a total workforce of up to 6500 employees; US$400 million in combined equipment inventory and 81 locations across the US, Canada, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. Current annual turnover of the combined group is in the region of US$600 million.

Former Aluma executive Stephen Tisdall remains, heading up the Concrete Construction business unit, with Mike Batchelor also remaining as regional operating vice president of the Canadian scaffolding operation.

The economic prospects for the new shape Brand are good, believes Mr Witsken. The bulk of the company's activities in North America are in the refining, oil sands, utility, chemical and paper and pulp industrial markets, and there is currently considerable activity in many of these. Says Mr Witsken: “The Energy Bill coupled with current oil prices/refining margins are encouraging investment in refining capacity and renewal of existing facilities. In Canada, development of facilities in the Alberta oil sands region is also being encouraged by the current economic position.”

The Concrete Construction business unit's prospects also are good, he says. “There is considerable activity in high rise building in the US currently, and the same is true for the Gulf States and China, in particular. The recently announced US Transportation Bill may also provide the company with opportunities to work on bridges that may be upgraded or replaced.”

Brand still has some work to do to reach its US$1 billion target, and SI will watch with interest.

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