Tervita Corporation

Integrated environmental services in western Canada
Written by: 
Jeanee Dudley
Produced by: 
Lance Pelletier

With a 30-year history of providing quality, integrated environmental service, Tervita Corporation serves a broad market throughout Canada. The company’s headquarters is in Calgary, Alberta. Employing approximately 2,000 people, the company operates, in roughly 100 locations throughout Canada. Tervita provides distinct environmentally oriented services to a range of customers, including oil and gas companies, rail companies, mining operations and other industrial applications that require a high level of environmental expertise.

Chris Synek leads the business as president and CEO and has been with Tervita since 2014. He moved to Canada from the U.S. to lead the company. “I saw this is an emerging industry and knew it would be a good fit for me,” says Synek. “It was an opportunity to make a difference in the world by providing services that will make it a better place.”

Standout services

As an environmental company, Tervita handles almost all varieties of energy-related waste and provides a wide range of other general environmental services. “What sets us apart is our commitment to safety, community, our dedication to excellence in what we do, our integrity, and being exemplary in terms of our conduct and our accomplishments for customers,” says Synek. “Our customers are not just the companies we work for, but also the citizens of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and other communities. The resource development industry has a duty to return those environments back to their original state and Tervita has the facilities and assets to play an integral role in meeting environmental obligations.”

Synek touts the company’s many product lines and notes that over the last few years his team has performed more than 50 different types of services for more than 1,000 customers. Key services include involvement in land reclamation and remediation, dredging, dewatering, utilizing metals and recycling some of the ferrous and nonferrous materials coming out of any decommissioning the team provides.

“We work across the spectrum of waste in Western Canada,” Synek adds. “Our work ranges from oil sands waste and processing to train derailments and soil contamination. We handle anything to do with drilling production, minimizing the impact of the energy industry in Western Canada.”

Serving a broad market

While Tervita serves customers across Canada, the company’s most significant market is in the western provinces. Synek explains that the major reason behind that is the natural landscape. “We are more prevalent in the western part of Canada primarily because of the abundance of oil and gas, however, with increased focus on managing our water resources services like using leachate for fracking and dredging and dewatering become important,” he says.

“We work for a large number of customers,” Synek continues. “We found that we don’t do much work with customers who don’t share our passion for sustainability. They have to care about meeting and exceeding government standards. That is an important approach to our projects.”

Because of this strong dedication to sustainability, Tervita now has the largest market share in Western Canada across its line of business. “We are larger than most of our competitors,” Synek elaborates. “We enjoy our work and we have a great cadre of people on-staff who are dedicated to the environment and to the company. We believe you can produce energy with a sustainable agenda. It is possible to extract hydrocarbons without doing damage, and the people who stand behind that are the kind of employees we want on our team and the kind of customers we want to serve.”

A growing portfolio

Recent jobs linked to earthworks include a range of environmental applications for companies concerned about impacting the environment. Tervita handles a lot of issues for the rail industry, such as train derailments. “We are instrumental in providing services to them,” says Synek. “Those companies are very quick to want a response for that, so we enjoy working with the rail industry. In the energy industry, oil and gas are very important to us, as well as our work for the mining industry.”

The team has also completed a lot of work in the disaster recovery sector. “We did the cleanup at the Stampede Grounds in order for them to have the 101st Calgary Stampede,” Synek elaborates. “We did a lot of the flood cleanup for the City of Calgary and the Town of High River. It took significant speed, urgency and discipline to deploy that number of people and trucks in an immediate fashion. We are proud of our ability to clean up in seven days to let the Stampede go on as planned.”

Other work in the company’s portfolio includes projects at the High River and Bonny Brook Bridge as well as a lot of the cleanup at Kenmore and Sheet River Bridge. With diverse capabilities, Tervita performs everything from huge civil projects to small environmental spills. Service station cleanups and other brownfield remediation projects are good examples of the team’s portfolio over the last decade.

“While the recent energy and related markets have been impacted by the ‘lower for longer’ scenario associated with commodity prices, we know that brownfield cleanup, both large and small, provides opportunities going forward.” notes Synek. “Cleanup associated with legacy sites and related contamination will require the full range of services and facilities provided by Tervita.”

Maintaining integrity

“We’ve had a great run philosophically as well as execution-wise,” Synek explains of his team’s accomplishments outside of contracts. “We had a great win with the Competition Bureau on a recent landfill issue. We stood up with what we felt were the right ideals in Canada and we were fortunate that the Supreme Court shared our view of how business and acquisitions should be conducted in Canada. As part of doing that, we exemplify ourselves as not just being about the environment, but also about good business principles in general. We hold to our principles as a company. That integrity is seldom seen in business.”

In addition, the business continues to foster relationships with native communities. “With our desire to give back to the environment, aboriginal relationships are incredibly important,” explains Synek. “If we are going to return mother earth back to the capacity it once was, we have to return it to people who owned it first.”

Synek is increasingly proud of the company and the integrity of the people they work with in the field. “We’ve had our issues,” he notes. “I wish I could say everything we have done is perfect, but every company has challenges. We excel at resolving those issues and doing what is in the best interest of our customers and the communities where we work. I think the mark of a great company is great integrity in resolution. Our team has done a superb job in that aspect.”

Looking ahead, Tervita is building sustained growth on a strong foundation. The business has established lasting relationships with clients, industry partners and communities, putting a significant amount of effort into giving back. The team is involved with 4H, supports the United Way and contributes to causes at the local level where its facilities exist.

The crew keeps pushing for improved services within the business and better regulations within the industry. Maintaining values of integrity and sustainability, Tervita Corporation continues to lead in the environmental services sector across the country.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Crop Production Services
D.F. Bowcott Trucking Ltd.
Dusty Rose Enterprises Ltd.
Hollow River Transport Inc.
Jori International Ltd.
Z&R Trucking & Construction Contracting Co. Ltd.