To say Lonny Thiessen's company didn’t get into high gear right away is to put things mildly. In fact, it took Western Manufacturing Ltd. about a year to land its first customer, and even then it was small beer by the standards of Canada's oilpatch.
Blame the timing. Thiessen, who was 22 at the time, launched his oilfield tank manufacturing firm in October 2008 — right in the teeth of a nasty contraction in the energy sector. The Grande Prairie, Alta.-based company won just a single modest contract during its first year. But the slump also helped the struggling start up by forcing some major players out of its niche, leaving a big hole. When the energy industry came roaring back, says Thiessen, Western’s president and CEO, "the business blew wide open."