Cando Rail Services Ltd.

Integrated solutions for the rail sector and bulk handling industries
Written by: 
Jeanee Dudley
Produced by: 
Sean O’Reilly

Cando Rail Services Inc. (Cando) is a Canadian-owned, national rail services provider, offering a range of integrated rail services throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The company employs more than 400 people, who through an employee ownership plan, hold stock in the business. Employee ownership gives the company a unique culture that customers can rely on. Cando’s employee-owners take the responsibilities and opportunities of ownership seriously, ensuring that the company consistently does the best job possible for the customer. 

As part-owners and dedicated professionals, this capable crew provides a range of services for railroad companies and industry throughout the country, including short line operations, industrial rail services, railcar storage, mechanical services, transload services, engineering and track services and railway material sales.

Gord Peters and Rick Hammond established Cando in 1978 as Cando Contracting Ltd., a small rail line dismantling and salvage company. The partners’ first contract came through answering a newspaper ad seeking a small contractor to tear out a set of Canadian Pacific (CP) rail lines in Tilston, Manitoba. This project launched a legacy of building partnerships through providing a full spectrum or rail services. CP is still a loyal customer of Cando in 2015, a testament to the company’s reputation as a safe, capable and experienced rail service company.

Cando Rail Services Ltd.

Strong leadership and lasting partnerships

Cando relies on lasting partnerships for long-term success. Relationships with industrial companies and major railways keep the business moving. Partners and clients alike have come to rely on the company for expertise and diverse capabilities that help operations run smoothly. With strong familiarity in the rail industry, a large fleet of equipment and a broad skill set, Cando provides value where other companies fall short.

Brent Mills, CEO of Cando, says the company’s success also hinges on its employees, and an impressive suite of resumes in the executive rank proves the company has grown into a national player in the rail industry; Cando has recently added Claude Jacob from Montreal as vice president of contract services. Jacob’s experience as an engineer and nearly two decades of experience as a project manager make him the premier candidate to lead complex infrastructure and track services projects for the Cando team.

Steve Bromley, based in Calgary, is vice president of industrial rail services. Bromley has an extensive operations background in the North American railway industry, including 16 years as an operations executive at Canadian Pacific Railway. Rounding out the vice president team is Lee Jebb, vice president of railway operations. Jebb was born in Brandon, which is the location of Cando’s headquarters. Jebb has a broad network of contacts in Manitoba, Canada and the United States, and has specialized in transportation, construction and development, public policy and community economic development during his 23 years’ experience as a general management executive.

Industrial capabilities

Cando’s record for efficient, safe work has allowed the business to grow significantly over the years. The company’s diversity in services has offered the team a leading edge over other rail contractors. Customers include the country’s class 1 rail companies as well as industrial companies that require these rail servers to move product. With more than 20 locations in Canada and one in the United States, Cando is strategically located to provide turnkey solutions for customers, regardless of where they are located within the company’s territory.

Cando currently has a contract with Tundra Energy Marketing Limited to provide railcar loading and switching services at Tundra’s new crude petroleum terminal near Cromer, Manitoba.

“This is a very exciting contract for Cando as this is a first class facility and one of the first of its kind in the industry to move from single car loading to unit train operations,” explains Mills. “The facility features a closed-loop system that is pipeline fed, rather than truck fed.”

Mills goes on to explain that under a long-term contract with Tundra, Cando provides locomotives and operational staff to perform all railcar loading and switching duties at the new terminal, with plans to grow with Tundra’s operational requirements. The terminal will have the potential to handle crude oil unit trains of more than 100 cars, which will generate greater efficiencies and market reach for Canadian crude oil.

Also in the industrial sector, Cando is responsible for the industrial switching at the Imperial Oil (IOL) facility in Edmonton’s Strathcona area where a team of 40 employees provides switching services 24 hours per day, seven days a week. The Cando crew at IOL also manages a car storage facility 8 miles from the IOL Strathcona site on the south side of Edmonton. Cars transfer between the storage yard and the IOL refinery, under a running rights agreement on Canadian National Railway (CN) main track.

Additionally, Cando has more than 15 similar contracts with blue chip customers across the country. “All of our industrial rail-switching contracts involve working with CN or CP to move railcars as efficiently as possible for our customers on-site,” Mills explains. The company is also the largest independent railcar storage provider.

On the track services side, Cando provides track construction and maintenance, track removal and salvage, and on-track material handling to CN and CP, as well as to large industrial customers throughout North America. Cando owns and operates an extensive fleet of both on track work equipment and off track construction equipment. All of the company’s on-track equipment operators are qualified in Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR).

Company-owned tracks

Cando also operates three short line railways in Canada: the Central Manitoba Railway (CEMR), the Orangeville Brampton Railway (OBRY) and the Barrie Collingwood Railway (BCRY). The BCRY and OBRY are community-owned short lines in southern Ontario that partner with Cando as a railway services operator contracted to provide local railway services to online customers in these communities for interchange with CP. As part of the OBRY, Cando operates the Credit Valley Explorer (CVE), a special event and passenger excursion train which operates out of Orangeville, Ontario.

CEMR is a 67-mile short line running from East Selkirk, north of Winnipeg, to Carman, south of Winnipeg and that serves more than 20 transportation customers. The short line services a variety of industrial customers, improving transportation capabilities for grain, fertilizers, paper, fuel, steel products and chemicals. CEMR interchanges daily in Winnipeg with CN in Symington Yard and CP at North Transcona Yard. In 2003 CEMR acquired 38 acres of land with 4.5 miles of yard track in North Transcona, Winnipeg and constructed the CEMR Transportation Centre. Over the years, Cando has expanded operations to include AAR certified railcar repair, locomotive repair and sales, rail and truck transloading, railcar storage and freight logistics.

Cando continues to grow, focusing on consistent expansion of markets and services for clients. Efforts in 2015 will be geared toward advancing its hook-and-haul programs which will allow the business to do more for industrial clients in terms of handling transportation of products. As the company’s line of services continues to inflate, Cando Rail Services Inc. will continue to play a key role in the safety and efficiency of rail transportation across Canada.

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