Five legends of the Oil & Gas industry received honours today. Inducted into the Southeast Saskatchewan Legends were Vi Day, Ron Carson, Ray Frehlick, Ken Lee, and Norman 'Pierre' Mondor.
Vi Day and her late husband Tony founded Fast Trucking Service Ltd. 65 years ago in the Carnduff area.
She spoke on behalf of all five recipients.
"It is an honor for me to be chosen as a legend. I wish Tony was here to accept this with me, we always were a team," she shared. "Without our families, our companies would not have grown to be what they are today."
"I would like to thank all of our employees, past and present, as well as all of our customers," said Day. "They make it run smoothly and it's always appreciated. We would have never have been so successful without the good people we have worked with over the years. Some have turned out to be a very long life friends."
"If I could only have one wish, it would be to be 17 again and lived and loved it all over again and wish Tony was back with us."
In 1958, a couple years before Vi married Tony Day, he had purchased a winch truck. This was the beginning of the Days' business Fast Trucking Service Ltd., which continues to this day after 65 years in business in the Carduff area. Vi was one of the first women in Saskatchewan to receive her 1A drivers license.
Vi and Tony's first home was in a small house trailer that was placed at a rig site. They had 4 children together: Linda, Teresa, Dennis and Larry, and have 10 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren. So far 3 generations have worked in the family business. Vi gave up the driving to focus on administration side of the businesses including bookkeeping, and dispatching.
Ron Carson grew up in Lampman, SK. During summer holidays in high school Ron worked at the Steelman gas plant. After graduation he continued to work there for the next six years.
While working as a gas plant operator, Ron got his welding pressure ticket. In 1965 Ron married Shirley, and together they had five children: Tracy, Travis, Trent, Troye and Tricia.
In 1974 Ron started Carson Welding & Maintenance. Over the next nearly four decades, the company saw steady growth, becoming one of the largest oilfield service companies of its type in the province. At times, they had over 1,100 people working for them, and a similar number of pieces of equipment and trucks. Around 2007, Ron acquired Elite Mechanical in Lloydminister.
The company, now known as Carson Energy Services, had shops and staff in almost every oilpatch community in this province as well as some in Alberta and Manitoba. There were 14 locations in total. In 2011 Carson Energy Services sold to Flint Energy Services, and Ron spent some time managing the transition to Flint, then URS, which sold to AECOM. Ron retired in 2016, but remains active on many boards and in advisory roles.
Ray Frelick was raised on a farm near Wilkie, Saskatchewan. He moved to the Estevan area to work in the oil industry, with a focus on the drilling fluids and oilfield chemical businesses. In 1969, he and Bill Huddleston started Prairie Petro-Chem Ltd., which focused on providing chemicals and other products to the oil industry in Canada.
The company expanded in the United States in 1972. In 1976, Ray and his wife Doris, incorporated Prairie Mud & Chemical Service Ltd, with an American version launching in 1981. Ray and Doris provide excellent service to customers, even through the booms and the busts of the industry. All while recognizing the need to stay current with developments and adapting to changes in the industry.
The Frehlicks consider the people who work at their business to be part of the family. This included enabling key employees and their children to become part owners.
Ken Lee was born near Elswick, Saskatchewan which is a few miles from the current location of Mainprize Park. In 1954 Ken was hired by Shell Canada and began the first stage of his career in the oil business. While employed by Shell, he worked at Midale, Calgary, Houston & Portland. In 1955 Ken married Marlene, and over the years raised 4 children. He moved his family several times and because of the many moves made the decision in 1967 to quit Shell and move back to Midale.
For a few years Ken worked as a mechanic and he sold fuel to the local famers. Ken returned to the oil business as a consultant and, along with a few friends, started Midale Petroleum. They bought their first two oil wells from Sun Oil in 1971, and drilled their first well in 1975.
The company continued to grow, and Ken credits the success of the company to the collective expertise of the five owners. Ken retired from full-time management of the company in 1998 but remains in close communication with the ongoing management, and still serves on the board of directors.
Norm "Pierre" Mondor was born and raised in Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan. Norm spent his early career in the lumber industry. When the forestry industry took a downturn in 1957, Norm followed rumors of good jobs in the oil industry and headed south. In 1972, Norm bought Aldon Oils Ltd., which had a single, low-producing stripper well. He followed a strict business plan of picking up "fixer-uppers," lower-producing wells that he could make better with his own skill and time.
Aldon Oils has grown steadily over the years and eventually started drilling its own wells. Since their first horizontal drill in 1995, Aldon has grown to a considerable size. The company is now owned by son Del. Norm's career has spanned six decades, which is almost as long as his marriage to his wife Shirley. Together they have 5 children, all of whom have been involved in the business. Norm retired from the company in 2011.
(with notes from the Saskatchewan Oil & Gas Show / Facebook).