Bry Sand Ice Arena Ltd.: Solidifying a Formula for Success

Bry Sand Ice Arena Ltd. (BSIA) is an Edmonton, Alberta-based company that assures ice arenas stay cool under pressure. The company builds refrigerated flooring, improving the overall performance of the ice arenas on which it works through better design and research and development. BSIA prides itself on its status as a single-source contractor; the company as a policy does not utilize subcontracted labour.

Bryan Trusty, president and founder of BSIA, explains, “We’re a specialty firm in a specialty market. We’ve concentrated on building refrigerated flooring since 1988. Our research and product development has focused on finding out what best suits the market, what yields the best improvements, and what will provide the best result for the end user.”

Highly successful in its niche, BSIA has completed over 150 arena projects in Canada and the U.S. and has 10 arena projects currently in the works. “We regularly provide our services to all four of the western provinces, but we are currently tendering work out in Ontario and the Maritimes, and we have great interest in opening offices in these regions,” Trusty explains. “It’s just tendering for now in those regions, but we have been invited by local groups and communities who are looking at building new facilities and at bringing in a company with more experience than some of the local companies can provide.”

A Polar Proprietary Mix

Building a refrigerated floor system with a perfectly smooth layer of not just ice, but also concrete, is highly specialized work. As Trusty explains it, “We didn’t find it; it found us. Initially, I founded Bry Sand Concrete Ltd., which still operates as a separate company today, and we had a lot of work pouring commercial flatwork floors for industrial warehouses, Walmart centres, you name it, because we had a lot of highly skilled tradesmen and a good reputation for craftsmanship.”

Trusty explains that several builders invited Bry Sand Concrete Ltd. to get into the business of pouring ice arena floors due to a void in the market. He recalls the company's evolution as follows: “So we bid one arena, and then another, and two became three, three became four, and we kept building into the mid-1990s when it became more evident that the market demanded specialty firms for specialty jobs. So we came to find that there was more interest in these projects and we began pursuing them, though by that time we had already been in the business of pouring ice arenas for five years.”

Reviewing how the business has progressed, Trusty reports that in the past 10 years the number of recreational centres in the region has increased and BSIA currently completes between 25 and 30 ice arenas a year. He notes, These days we do a lot of work building arenas in recreational centres throughout Canada, because in rural areas there are not a lot of firms with the kind of experience we have.”

BSIA recently completed work on the first four-arena recreation centre in Edmonton, the Southwest Community Recreation Centre. Additionally, the company finished work on an arena in Regina, Saskatchewan, that required six sheets of ice. “These kinds of projects are huge, because they usually house indoor soccer fields, aquatics and big gymnasiums,” Trusty explains.

BSIA has emerged as a preferred partner in these type of projects because over the course of its history the business has exhibited a dedication to consummate service and it has developed a proprietary concrete mix especially for use in ice arena floors. According to Trusty, “You can use regular concrete, but our mix has been developed to last longer, pour smoother, limit shrinkage and improve refrigeration and energy efficiency.” The company stands firmly by its claim to never resort to grinding or patching and will only tolerate a variation of three millimeters or fewer in level; to date, no deficiencies of any kind are on its record.

This can be attributed to BSIA's comprehensive mix of innovative process development and real-world experience applying all manner of techniques. Trusty notes, “A lot of the things we have learned over the years have been through field application. We have to be able to challenge our projections with field applications to see if they are correct. We will do trial applications and mock-ups and find ways to improve the design, and we make a point to never turn down anyone’s suggestions. Our primary concern is to make sure that the end result is going to hold up.”

Building the Ice Rinks of Champions

Over the years, the firm has had the opportunity to exhibit its capabilities on some of the biggest and highest-profile ice arenas in Canada. “We were responsible for building four out of the five ice arenas in Vancouver that were used at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics,” Trusty says. “We also built the sports centre at the University of British Columbia, which is an 8,000-seat facility, maybe the largest seated facility on any university campus in Canada ... for a university it was a very large project.

“Our largest arena to date was the Richmond Olympic Oval for speed skating; that is our pride and joy so far,” continues Trusty. The track measures 400 meters, is made of over 1 million cubic feet of concrete, and was used for 12 medal events in the 2010 Olympic Games. The structure also required over 5 million kilos of rebar because the structure was built on a site with unstable sediment in a seismically active zone. However, the firm triumphed over nature's challenges and built what became the flattest speed skating surface with the greatest durability.

In the coming years, Trusty expects to continue the company’s growth pattern, hopefully into eastern Canada. “Even some of the smaller cities with 50,000 people or fewer are beginning to look into building a lot of these regional sports complexes,” Trusty says, “and we would really like to be able to bring our expertise to some of the major centres being built.”

With an impressive portfolio and an unparalleled level of expertise, it does not look as though Bry Sand Ice Arena Ltd. will be slowing down any time soon.