News

JUNE 11, 2021

Provincial Pole Specialists is Celebrating 30 Years of Maintaining Crucial Utility Infrastructure that Keeps Canada Powered and Connected

The year 2021 marks the 30th anniversary for Provincial Pole Specialists, Inc. (PPSI). It is a significant milestone few companies achieve. Over the past three decades, PPSI and its Saskatchewan-based division, Central Pole Inspection and Maintenance, Inc. (CPIM), have grown to be collectively the largest utility pole maintenance providers in Canada, securing large multi-year contracts. Together, the two companies help bolster the structural resiliency and performance of Canada’s utility infrastructure. They treat over 250,000 poles each year for central Canada's major energy companies, and provide pole reinforcement and a variety of other distribution line services throughout the country. Understanding that utility companies require a dependable partner that completes challenging projects on-time and under budget has been an important factor in the company's success.

The Beginning

PPSI was founded in March 1991 by Tim Oickle, Steve Christiansen, and Reg McKinnon. Prior to starting their own business, Tim and his three partners worked as Foremen with Osmose for nearly five years in the early 1980s.

“I started on the end of the shovel, then treated poles, and then ran a crew,” says Tim, who is currently the Vice President of Operations, Canadian Division. “As a Foreman, I worked in Canada in the summertime, and then I'd go down to the states during the winter to work.” After Osmose, Tim went to work for a company called “Eastern Tree Service” for two years before forming Provincial Pole.

The Birth of PPSI

The business started in Atlantic Canada with Nova Scotia Power as the first contract. Reflecting on his earliest memories, Tim recalls several years of long hours and hard work.

“I led crews for many years because we weren't big enough to support management at that time. At the start, we only had approximately five crews,” he said. Two of the three partners managed the crews in the early days of PPSI. “We’d supervise crews all day and be managers at night.”

Today, the crew member count has increased to around 150 when busiest, and varies according to the projects they are assigned.

Growth and Transformation

PPSI went from a small/medium-sized company to a large company when they opened the CPIM division in 2014.  The division was immediately successful as it allowed them to break into the Saskatchewan market and amounted to considerable growth.

Together, the two companies were able to open new avenues and subsequently established a long-standing relationship with SaskPower.

“We started out doing 40,000 distribution poles a year for SaskPower. Now, we do approximately 115,000 distribution poles and 5,000 transmission poles annually,” Tim said.

Alberta is considered an oil province. When the oil market declines, the economy can decline and continue for an extended period of time. However, PPSI is fortunate to be working with Manitoba Hydro and SaskPower. Because of the stability of the Manitoba and Saskatchawan economy, any decreases in work in the west can be offset in the prairies.

Creating Long-Lasting Partnerships

Since 1995, Provincial Pole has been based in Manitoba and maintains 20+ year relationships with Manitoba Hydro and Alberta’s private energy companies. One of the most rewarding opportunities utilities gain from working with PPSI is the improvement to their systems.

“We identify pole conditions and promptly and provide restoration when needed. We form relationships with the utility clients and their representatives. We keep a very professional appearance and presence; and try to maintain the same standard of professionalism that they show the public.”

Becoming an Osmose Company

The company has witnessed a lot of growth and transformation over the past 30 years, with one of the most recent being the Osmose acquisition in 2020. With PPSI and CPIM, Osmose expects to extend its digitally-enabled, data-driven asset management offerings to Canadian utilities - from make-ready engineering, steel structure management, and foundation restorations, to storm response, grounding, and padmount transformer inspection. PPSI’s breadth of products and solutions, as well as technical depth and field excellence enables Osmose to serve the Canadian utility marketplace in important, new ways.

“I am very proud of starting something and bringing it to a point where it's attractive to Osmose,” said Tim. “The biggest thing I see is the knowledge and the support that we get from the Osmose team. It is incredible. We're very impressed with their knowledge and expertise.”

Since becoming an Osmose company, PPSI has already begun to see growth with an acceleration in sales and new contracts and has used Osmose’s knowledge to help standards groups better understand assets they regulate.

The Next 30 Years

PPSI continues to evolve and has much more to look forward to. A milestone of 30 years requires a business culture that is employee and customer-centric, a strategic outlook, a willingness to embrace change, and a strong commitment to core values. Tim and the other founders are humbled to have come this far.

“It is gratifying to be celebrating this anniversary,” Tim said. “We’ve had a good run and I've enjoyed it. I've been through all the ups and downs, and have gone from supervisory roles to management to owner. Pole maintenance is in my DNA.”

NOVEMBER 17, 2020

Osmose Utilities Announces Acquisition of Provincial Pole Specialists, Inc.

Osmose Utilities Services, Inc. (Osmose) announced today the acquisition of Provincial Pole Specialists, Inc. (PPSI) and its sister company Central Pole Inspection and Maintenance, Inc. (CPIM).  Manitoba-based PPSI and Saskatchewan-based CPIM are collectively the largest utility pole maintenance providers in Canada.  PPSI and CPIM inspect and treat over 250,000 poles each year for central Canada’s major energy companies, and also provide pole reinforcement and a variety of other distribution line maintenance services throughout the country.  

“PPSI and CPIM are a natural fit with Osmose because we share common core values, a strong dedication to safety and a focus on operational excellence in the delivery of services which support the critical mission of our utility customers” said Cody Phipps, CEO of Osmose. “With PPSI and CPIM added to our team, we expect to extend Osmose’s digitally-enabled, data-driven asset management offerings for Canadian utilities – from pole inspection, pole restoration and foundation restorations to storm response, grounding, and padmount transformer inspection. Together, we’ll help bolster the structural resiliency and performance of Canada’s utility infrastructure.”

“For more than 30 years, PPSI and CPIM have built a reputation for successfully completing challenging and complex projects on-time and within budget.  Osmose has long been the gold standard for quality and innovation in our field.  They bring a powerful breadth of products and solutions as well as technical depth and field excellence that will enable us to serve the Canadian utility marketplace in important, new ways,” said Tim Oickle, President of PPSI and CPIM.

About Osmose Utilities Services

Founded in 1934, Osmose is the market-leading provider of critical inspection, mobile contact voltage testing, maintenance and restoration services for electric transmission, distribution and telecommunications utilities in the United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Headquartered near Atlanta in Peachtree City, Georgia, the company employs more than 4,000 people. Osmose’s field technicians, professional engineers, wood scientists and corrosion experts utilize their expertise to identify and solve issues to make utility infrastructure safer, longer-lasting and more resilient while lowering the total cost of ownership. Osmose is a portfolio company of EQT Infrastructure. Learn more at https://www.osmose.com/