Sabre Instrument Services Ltd

Providing hands on access to control panel, analyzer and electrical integration
Written by: 
Aimee St. James
Produced by: 
Chuck McKenna

Established in 1985, Sabre Instrument Services Ltd (Sabre) will be celebrating 30 years of successful operation in 2015. Sabre is headquartered in Southeast Calgary, and provides integration services for industrial control systems, process analyzer systems and modular electrical installations for a customer base of large and small scale oil and gas companies. Sabre provides top of the line services and facilities to meet every need.

Employing success

After 28 years of operation, Sabre’s original owners retired and the company was taken over by three long-term employees: Keith McLennan, president; Ryan Prestie, COO; and Tony White, CEO. Each maintains a division of the company, and together, acts as a three-prong management system. McLennan oversees the analyzer systems integration, while Prestie heads the modular electrical integration and White oversees the control systems integration.

In its early days, Sabre’s business was based around plant shutdowns and maintenance, with some construction on the side. As the company grew, the owners took control of a small panel/console manufacturing company and moved its focus toward control panels.

Sabre has been growing rapidly ever since. The majority of Sabre’s work is based in the oil and gas industry, and the company has expanded into electrical and analyzer integration work to meet client needs and keep up with a competitive market.

Sabre Instrument Services Ltd.

Diligence through difficulty

Sabre’s customer base includes junior to major oil, gas and petro-chemical companies, as well as EPCs in the same fields. Working in such a demanding industry, Sabre’s quality and its care for its clients’ needs, helps to solidify its standing as a top contender in the integration world.

“We go the extra mile to meet our clients’ needs,” McLennan explains. “You do what your client wants you to do, and you help them out of jams. You make sure they get what they want at the end, and that it’s perfect. If it’s not perfect, you follow up in the field and make it perfect.” Such diligence has won Sabre a wide range of projects.

Tackling more difficult and time-consuming projects helped make Sabre stand out against the competition. “When larger projects come along, we’re a good fit,” McLennan says.

Not only does Sabre provide services to its clients, it also provides the tools for clients to ensure that the product is ready for use.

One of the ways Sabre separates itself from the competition is by allowing clients keyed-in access to staging facilities for equipment testing.

“It’s a good set up,” says McLennan. “We have a good reputation and a good client base. We’re well-known for quality.”

With very little work subcontracted out, the bulk of Sabre’s work is completed with its own forces.

Operating with approximately 90 employees, one of Sabre’s biggest struggles is labor. “A major headache for us is getting good people and keeping them,” McLennan explains. “You need to treat them right so they don’t leave.”

With a labor force comprised of project managers, technical support personnel, panel wire persons, instrumentation mechanics and electricians, the pull of big money from larger companies and other opportunities in the province creates constant competition for Sabre in hiring qualified personnel.

Despite these challenges, Sabre has maintained a highly skilled staff consisting of many long-term employees. “The employees are the backbone in the success of our business,” he continues.

Sabre works hard to build a strong relationship with its suppliers. “Our goal is to build a relationship with suppliers and stay with them,” says McLennan. As a result of these relationships, Sabre is able to maintain its reputation for quality and on-time project execution.

Continuing toward success

Throughout the past few years, Sabre was fortunate to avoid the pitfalls of the economy’s downturn. “We bounced right through it,” McLennan explains. With numerous projects in-house for a variety of major oil and gas companies, Sabre was able to continue its growth without a significant loss of production, manpower or revenue.

The company’s success is based on maintaining good relationships with current clients and creating the same on a long-term basis with new clients. “We will not compromise our quality of work for the sake of profits, our reputation and relationships are too valuable to gamble with say the owners,” McLennan details. Sabre Instrument Services Ltd looks forward to the future and maintaining a steady well-managed growth pattern.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Brews Supply
Canadian West Coatings