Virden Meter, located at 124 Anson St., provides technical sales and service which support the oil and gas sector, a major economic driver in Southwestern Manitoba.
The company joined the local business community at the height of petroleum industry activity in 2012. It started out as a branch of Estevan Meter and became a separate entity the following year, owned and operated by Mark Kessler of Wapella, Saskatchewan.
2014 brought a move next door to a new, more expansive building which includes office space, a warehouse housing over $1 million worth of inventory, a service shop and shipping/receiving area. Over time, the staff has grown from two to the current seven, which includes instrumentation technicians who work in the field as well as in the company’s well-equipped shop.
“We’ve had good support from the local oilfield companies. There was definitely a need for an instrumentation contractor in this area,” says Kessler.
Virden Meter sells new products like tank gauging and offers timely service, calibration and maintenance for such items as controls, relief valves and SCADA systems – vital to the continuity of oil patch operations.
"It's quite a variety. We’re a certified relief valve service shop. There's two in Manitoba.”
During its time in Virden, the company has carved out a niche and has managed to withstand the “boom and bust” nature of the petroleum industry, which often ripples throughout the entire community.
“It has definitely raised my stress level, but we’ve always survived,” Kessler remarks.
Kessler’s business philosophy emphasizes after-sale service. "We service what we sell. If you buy something from us and it fails, we have the parts and the expertise to fix it. We're not just a supply store. We supply and service."
Since the onslaught of COVID-19, Kessler has seen first-hand how it has impacted business and the ability to service customers on a day-to-day basis. "It's affected the demand for our commodity. In 2016, when the oil collapsed, you could still go around and find customers unrelated to the oil industry. But with COVID-19, you really can't even go and try to see new clients. Everything also takes a little longer because there's more restrictions. We have to try to stock more critical products because the delivery is a total crapshoot. Stuff that used to be a couple of days delivery, (now) it's a couple of weeks. It's really a struggle to maintain the supply chain.”
The pandemic has also put the brakes on any expansion plans, at least for now.
"It would be nice, but we have to get over the world ending for the last two years to see what happens," he said.
Locally, Virden Meter is a sponsor of the Virden Oil Capitals junior hockey team and contribute to events like the Demolition Derby, which runs in conjunction with the Virden Indoor Rodeo & Wild West Daze, and the annual Oilmen’s Golf Tournament.
"We're a community-based business and we're here to support the community."
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