When Shane Stirling was a high school student working for his dad’s company in the late 1990s, he never thought that one day he would be running the whole business with his brother. But then, when opportunity knocks and you love what you do, you don’t say no.
Shane’s father, Don Stirling, founded Epscan Industries in Fort St John in 1978. Epscan is an electrical instrumentation contractor company, focusing on natural gas production.
“I remember my father talked to me when I was thinking about what to do after high school, and he said to me: ‘You might as well take a trade. You’re working here in the summers anyways.’ Shane said.
So what was Shane’s response to his dad?
“I said “no way!” I wasn’t doing what dad was doing at all,” Shane says. “But a few years out of high school, I realized that, oh, there’s a career here. There’s a career in trades.”
And so, Shane jumped in and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I basically got into the business, got into the trades, and my brother followed me soon after. And now, he and I; we run the family business,” Shane says.
Now fully in charge of operations, Shane and his brother oversee Epscan with offices in Fort St John, Dawson Creek, and Grande Prairie, where they offer a wide range of services that work in part with natural gas. Epscan offers construction, maintenance, electrical, and instrumentation work. Each of these services coincides with one another, which allows Shane’s company to stand out.
The diversity of the work they do – from construction to maintenance – provides Epscan with a solid foundation and keeps them going consistently despite the ups and downs of the oil and gas industry.
That said, Shane knows running a business is not always easy. “Like any entrepreneur, I already signed up for stress and chaos,” he says. “Let’s be honest. It’s not an easy path to choose. You just learn to adapt and improvise, right? And review and say, “Okay well, all right, we can’t do this anymore. What are we going to do? All right, we’re going to go over here. Are we going to do this, this, this, this?” And then you get it done, right?”
Like so many industries across Canada, finding talent becomes a big challenge. Shane is involved in trade development with the Industry Training Authority federally. He believes there’s lots of work to be done. Smaller cities like Fort St John are perfect for someone new to Canada with trade experience.
One thing, Shane has a great deal of hope for the future of the natural gas industry and argues that it is a green fuel. “Having the opportunity to help the fight against climate change and make a difference in the world’s gas emissions is something people may not know that Epscan is a part of. But we are,” he says.
Shane also explains how important community is to him and Epscan. He’s most proud of their community involvement, engagement, and ability to support families in the area. And over the last couple of years, they expanded their support, and Shane loves it when people come up and recognize him and his team and thank them. Making a difference in the community is good for everyone.