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Merville manufacturing company exports worldwide

AN ATLAS COPCO rig from Wisconsin — the equivalent of General Motors in the drilling world — sits at Atlas Manufacturing in Merville. - Scott Stanfield
AN ATLAS COPCO rig from Wisconsin — the equivalent of General Motors in the drilling world — sits at Atlas Manufacturing in Merville.
— image credit: Scott Stanfield

Atlas Manufacturing custom builds equipment such as casing hammers and jacks for the drilling world — right here in the Comox Valley.

At present, the Merville company is working on a job for a drilling platform in the South China Sea, a drill rig for operation in California and a jack for a Nevada company.

In January, they constructed a jack that was shipped to New Zealand following an earthquake.

"My understanding is a lot of their wells shifted," operations manager Dave Freeman said. "They use it right in the city ... We sell a fair bit into Australia."

Atlas recently completed a six-week project to build a casing jack that pulls pipe from the ground. It was designed to pull more than one million pounds, or 500 metric tonnes, but will in fact pull a heavier load.

The customer from Germany hired a truck to drive the 30,000-pound jack to Chicago from where it was flown to Vienna, Austria. The jack left Merville Aug. 22 and arrived in Vienna Aug. 26. It will be used on a geothermal project for the city.

"It's good for the Valley. We've had (Vancouver Island North MP) John Duncan out here a couple of times," said Freeman, noting a plan to build rigs in the Valley. "It's going to take significant investment."

Vaughn and Ken Anderson started the company in 1999. There are seven employees.

Freeman partners with Ken, the company president who designed and patented the equipment.

Ninety per cent of goods are exported south of the border or overseas.

"These things come up brand new from the factory and then we outfit them and ship them," Freeman said. "Right now our overseas market is really strong. The States is a little slow. We supply to the U.S. government as well."

This fall, the company plans to start production of the Atlas Explorer, a one-of-a-kind sampling drill rig. Potential customers are as far away as Russia.

''It tests the compression of the soil and then it will take a soil sample," Freeman said. "It's also used for looking for gold deposits."

Atlas uses local businesses such as Comox Valley Hydraulic & Industrial Supply for subcontracting.

For the geothermal project, Atlas farmed out about 300 hours to a Duncan company to get the job done on time.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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