In one decade, Scott Getschel’s company, Fiber-Werx International, has expanded from two co-owners repairing boats and RVs to 13 employees creating custom fiberglass products for oil companies, employing new technology along the way.
“We can literally manufacture anything with fiberglass,” said Getschel. “If companies can’t find what they’re looking for we’ll do our best to try to design this for them.”
The Sylvan Lake-based business’s growth has not gone unnoticed. Fiber-Werx won the Central Alberta Economic Partnership (CAEP) Innovative Business award which was officially announced Nov. 29 in a ceremony at the Black Knight Inn in Red Deer.
Part of the organization’s fifth annual achievement awards, the award is bestowed to a business showing evidence of change, or innovative new business methods with a positive impact on the community.
“Knowing the criteria for that award it seemed a very logical choice to nominate them,” said Matt Cornall, economic development officer for the Town of Sylvan Lake. Fiber-Werx was the town’s only nominee for the awards.
“We’re very happy and very honoured that the Town of Sylvan Lake nominated us for the award,” said Getschel, adding that he was surprised to win over co-nominee ATCO Gas.
Getschel began the company with his business partner in 2002 after leaving his job as marketing manager at Wild Rapids Water Slide Park. The owner, who designed and sold water slides throughout the world, had sold the park. Getschel’s partner was working with a fiberglass company in Red Deer at the time. Together, they started Fiber-Werx.
Soon after forming their company, they landed a contract with Travelaire, an RV production company. Five years later, the recession forced Travelaire into bankruptcy.
“I tried to reinvent my company,” said Getschel.
His first major product, the Rizor truck bed tonneau cover, can be opened and closed with a remote control.
“We’re always trying to improve and look for a better product … We tend more to look outside the box,” said Getschel. “We’re always looking at the latest technology out there.”
Building on Getschel’s previous water park experience, the company also produces a number of water slides, with some installed in Brazil, Taiwan, the Middle East, and Europe.
“A lot of hotels use our water slides,” said Getschel.
Cornall described the water slides as “iconic”, citing Getschel’s new products and bravery to reach new markets as key reasons for his nomination. He was particularly impressed with the company’s work in the oil industry, especially how they have managed to replace steel in many areas where it is typically used.
According to Getschel, fiberglass doesn’t rust or spark, and is more lightweight than steel, making it useful to the oil industry.
Though Getschel still does some work with boats and RVs, the majority of his work now involves oil companies.
He is also working with the National Research Council of Canada to develop a compound combining natural hemp fibres and resin. The compound will be used in the body of the electric “Kestrel” car.
Cornall said Getschel contributes to the community by providing employment opportunities, which allow residents to work in town and he brings new residents in.
“Scott [Getschel] also steps outside the box and talks to people looking to expand their business to Sylvan Lake,” said Cornall. “Having that kind of third-hand input … is very useful as well.”
With Fiber-Werx’s new technology, highly trained workers are no longer necessary, said Getschel.
“As we continue to grow and expand, I think there’s going to be a lot more employment opportunities,” he said. “I’m looking forward to a very positive future and growth within Sylvan Lake.”