Piling Canada

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Pinnacle Drilling Products excels as an industry “total solutions” provider
Written by Lisa Gordon
March 2015

Pinnacle Drilling Products excels as an industry “total solutions” provider

When Allan Zdunich founded Pinnacle Drilling Products back in 2007, the Vancouver,

B.C.-based company supplied drilling tools and products to the oil and gas, mining, construction, geothermal and waterwell industries. Its first shop was a mere 2,000 square feet, and it was home to just four employees.

But Zdunich – a drilling industry veteran who is marking 50 years in the field this year – was clearly onto a good thing. It took only eight years for Pinnacle to grow into a new facility in Burnaby, one that is five times bigger than its original shop.

In 2011, a company restructuring initiative brought in more capital to fund targeted growth.

At the time, this allowed Pinnacle to further develop its new facility in Calgary, Alta., which was established to bring the company closer to its clients in the oil and gas and construction markets. Under the leadership of industry experts Jim MacPhail and Darryl Michalko, that location has experienced tremendous growth, increasing from 3,000 to 40,000 square feet since it opened its doors in May 2010.

“Pinnacle also started a CNC machining and welding shop in Calgary,” said Zdunich. “We were really a sales group; but when we needed things built, we’d have to farm the work out to other machining companies. When they were busy, we were all standing in line. We decided to do it ourselves.”

Today, Pinnacle employs 35 people. Collectively, its employees have a grand total of 258 years of industry experience, with eight team members each having more than 20 years in the field. Calgary handles about 70 per cent of business and Burnaby the remaining 30 per cent, with Pinnacle offering a wide selection of 7,500 different products to its drilling industry customers.

“For the oil and gas market, we provide coring tooling,” said MacPhail. “For the waterwell market we provide casing and down-the-hole (DTH) products and bits.”

But Pinnacle’s main focus these days is the deep foundation construction industry. In short order, the company has become a leader in the large diameter drilling market.

“There was a movement to start putting in larger diameter piles for offshore applications – bridges, ferry terminals, etc.,” said Zdunich. “We’re talking about jobs that require large 18- to 60-inch diameter piles, using reverse circulation [RC] drilling techniques. Large diameter offshore and land-based drilling projects are our focus.”

A lot of the technology involved in those projects employs RC drilling techniques. Zdunich says that method was once thought to be very expensive, but today’s customers are starting to realize the savings.

“When you’re drilling in the conventional way, you might have 10 air compressors tied together to drill that hole,” he said. “With reverse circulation, you could probably do the job with three or four compressors. When you do the math, the fuel savings alone represent thousands of dollars. Think of one compressor burning 20 gallons of fuel an hour, times $4 per gallon, times 10 hours a day.”

But an even bigger attraction of RC drilling is that the same drill rod can be used for different sized holes, reducing the need for equipment and offering customers significant savings.

“As the technology grows, we seem to be at the forefront,” said Zdunich, who makes it a priority to attend industry trade shows and events around the world, in order to stay on top of trends. His involvement has paid off: Pinnacle’s share of the large diameter drilling market has grown rapidly.


Prominent piling projects
Mark Caron, Pinnacle’s Burnaby sales manager, says the company has worked on several extensive jobs.

“We just recently finished a project putting in some 60-inch diameter piles in Prince Rupert, B.C., for the CN Rail loading facility,” he said. “Those are some of the biggest single ‘drilled’ pile projects we’ve seen on the West Coast.”

In 2011, Pinnacle drove about 12 kilometres of pilings to create the sub-structure for the new maritime helicopter facility built at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt on Vancouver Island. 

Zdunich says that Pinnacle supplied tooling and consulted on a drilling job in the Gulf of Mexico, where piles were underpinned at a copper loading facility. The company is reaching further afield as well, shipping tooling and sharing expertise on jobs across Canada, but also into the U.S. and Central America.

No matter which customer they are dealing with, the staff at Pinnacle takes pride in delivering a complete solution to get the job done.

“We’re more than just a supplier,” said Caron. “A lot of our customers call us up with a project, and they’re not necessarily sure what they need to do to complete it. So, we’ll supply them with tooling, procedures, consulting and maybe connections in the industry to get the job done.”

Future prospects
Looking down the road, Zdunich says Pinnacle will be focusing on becoming a one-stop shop. The company is positioning itself as the sales and marketing arm for major drilling product lines, such as Comacchio and ABI Group. It’s also working on some innovative collaborative projects.

“We are looking at the larger downhole market and we’re working on ideas,” said Zdunich. “One of the biggest problems out there when you work offshore is that when you drill with air, the air comes out the base of the bit and the water just starts to bubble. Engineers and environmentalists don’t like that. So, we’re working with a company in Finland that has developed a casing advancing system that exhausts the air back up the pile. It disturbs the environment less and is more controlled.”

Caron says that environmentally safe operations are a priority – for both Pinnacle and its customers. For example, he says, the company carries cost-effective yet eco-friendly fluids and greases.

As the vice president of the Western Canadian chapter of the International Association of Foundation Drilling (ADSC), Zdunich is well connected to the drilling industry, which he projects will continue to grow.

As Pinnacle Drilling Products continues its measured, targeted expansion, the company is becoming known for its problem-solving capability.

“We haven’t even done much marketing, but we’re getting a solid reputation,” said Zdunich. “More and more of our business is coming through word of mouth, because people in the industry know we provide tooling, but they also know we deliver solutions.

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Category: Profile

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