The Future of Roads

Western Asphalt Products
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

Western Asphalt Products is a successful, family-run enterprise, part of the Arnill Group of companies, which has been in business for almost seventy years. The Group are Canadian leaders in the innovation of unique road solutions and refined asphalt products, focused on providing purchasing agents longer lasting roads using preventative road maintenance technologies with lower lifecycle costs.
Asphalt emulsions benefit the planet, reducing carbon emissions. Roads can be 100% recycled in place using Cold In Place Recycling technology with roughly 1.5% emulsion rejuvenating old oxidized roads. Asphalt emulsions reduce dependence on non-renewable petroleum resources, reduce aggregate consumption and are proven to be more economical then any traditional shave and pave operations.

A one hundred percent family-owned and operated business, Western Asphalt’s rich history goes back to 1946. Even after almost seventy years, the business maintains its strong commitment to customers and the industry as it researches and develops new products and economical road solutions “from gravel roads to major highways.”

“My three brothers and I are now fourth generation, which we are extremely proud of,” says company President Dean Arnill. “After World War II, my great grandfather Ed Seeley and my grandfather Bill Arnill saw an opportunity and purchased a single gravel crusher because people were driving more during the winter months and counties needed more gravel.”

In 1971, the original company Seeley & Arnill Construction expanded its operations, purchasing property in Durham, Ontario, becoming aggregate suppliers and asphalt contractors.

In 1986, a division called West-Can Seal Coating Inc. – led by Norm Charles and Paul Arnill – was formed, soon branching-off to western Canada as West-Can. Initially concentrating on Seal Coating across Saskatchewan and Alberta, the company rapidly grew as West-Can evolved from a Chip Sealing company to become one of the largest private purchasers of asphalt emulsion in western Canada. West-Can specializes in preventative road maintenance and the recycling of roadway surfaces.

Today, Western Asphalt’s primary service is the manufacturing of asphalt emulsions, along with providing consultation services for proper road applications. Its contracting division West-Can works with clients on road building, recycling roads and preventative road maintenance. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a city, municipality, county or the provincial government – when they come to us, we can advise them on which application to use. We assist in providing specifications for properly tendering, budgeting, raw material selection and also quality control analysis. And we have our own contracting division who will do the work.”

In 2011, the next chapter in the story of the company was written when Bill Diamond and Dean Arnill collaborated to form Western Asphalt Products. Wishing to control its own supply of asphalt emulsion – and to address issues surrounding service and quality – the company’s first asphalt emulsion terminal was opened in Brandon, Manitoba, in 2012. This was soon followed by a second asphalt emulsion terminal in Bruderheim, Alberta, to meet the asphalt emulsion needs of western Canada and northern United States.

Western Asphalt Products is committed to ongoing innovation, working with the latest technologies to manufacture the best quality asphalt emulsions available today. The company has a solid work ethic, a commitment to all customers and respect for the environment.

Fully certified by AMRL (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Materials Reference Laboratory), its laboratory is used for both in-house quality control and offering third-party testing. Clare Workman, the Technical Director, has her Masters in Environmental Chemistry, and Mrs. Workman has been focusing on researching and developing non-conventional raw materials while working with provincial government grant agencies.

“It took over a year to do the engineering and procurement searching for the highest quality technology to manufacture the most stable asphalt emulsions available in today’s marketplace,” says Dean. “Bill Diamond’s background was asphalt emulsion manufacturing and plant design for the past twenty-five years, while I grew up on the application side of the business laying asphalt emulsions on construction crews during my childhood. Western Asphalt Products was formed to vertically integrate the family business purchasing asphalt cement directly from North American refineries and further refining into asphalt emulsion for shipments across all of Western Canada.”

The Group of companies employs approximately 200 personnel during the summer months plus subcontractors. It is dedicated to serving all customers with professionalism, integrity and a tremendous depth of proven asphalt industry knowledge.

“Our team is very diverse in skill sets so we can cover all aspects of running a successful growing business,” says Dean. “Our background and knowledge of road building for generations, allows our team to use past practical real-world experiences along with new current technology for the best long-term and economic solutions for purchasing agents. Our goal is creating lifetime partnerships with agencies. We are in this business for the long term to provide value to customers.”

The company’s core business manufactures and supplies any provincially-specified asphalt emulsion to cities, counties, provincial governments and individual contractors. The skilled team at Western Asphalt also offers customer-specific emulsions created to suit exacting client needs. One of these is EZ Pave, a new cold mix created in the company’s laboratory and now supplied to various counties across Alberta.

Formulating the right asphalt emulsions results in more durable road surfaces and increased longevity, so Western Asphalt’s emulsions can benefit customers and the environment in several ways. Sophisticated recycling technology reduces lifecycle costs, lowers carbon emissions and results in less consumption of natural resources.

“Every single application we promote at Western Asphalt is focused on asset management and the reduction of carbon footprints while extending lifecycle costs,” states Dean. “Our companies complete all aspects of roadway construction, from initial road building to hot mix paving and recycling or preventative road maintenance, so we have no incentive to promote one application over another. However, we see over time, markets will change and adapt to provide the best value for taxpayers in an economical and environmentally-friendly manner.”

The company’s asphalt emulsion technology covers a number of areas; one environmentally-friendly example is Microsurfacing. The technology has numerous benefits compared to a two-inch conventional milling and replacement of hot mix asphalt. According to information presented at the Canadian Technical Asphalt Association from data collected by the Ministry of Transportation (Ontario) over the past decade, Microsurfacing results in a fifty percent lower initial construction cost, eighty-three percent less carbon dioxide, eighty-six percent less nitrogen oxides, eighty-four percent less sulphur oxides and is thirty-four percent more economical (after factoring in annual life cycle costs) compared to a conventional mill and fill. The study found cost savings over the ten year period are $59 million in initial construction costs and $37.2 million in additional savings factoring in lifecycle costs. In addition, 28,642 tonnes of CO2 emissions were prevented from going into our atmosphere. For comparison purposes, this savings in CO2 emissions is equivalent to making a town with a population of 6,952 households carbon-neutral for one year.

Another key initiative of Western Asphalt has been its active lobbying for changes in the way road preservation is funded. In Manitoba, Microsurfacing was a pilot program in the early 2000s, started by the contracting division West-Can.
“Since then, the funding has changed from operations to capital, and the program now has steady funding for completing over four hundred kilometres on an annual basis with the funding protected,” says Dean.

In Saskatchewan and Alberta, however, the program has decreased due to lack of funding. “In previous years, the Saskatchewan government completed over 230 kilometres of roadway, while this year zero work was called, due to budget constraints. Meanwhile, the cities like Saskatoon are continuing to keep their roads in good condition with preventative road maintenance.”

Western Asphalt has a mission of promoting the recycling of existing roadways through the use of asphalt emulsion applications and creating increased public awareness of preventative road maintenance. We are committed to “Communicate to politicians and decision makers the message of the benefits of preservation treatments and early age intervention.”

There are only two options, period; (A) Preservation, and; (B) Rehabilitation. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, spending $1 dollar in preservation activities will eliminate or defer spending $6 to $10 dollars on rehabilitation work. When reading this article, what choice would you make?

The company strives for newer and better road construction methods, using recycled aggregate, reducing dependence on petroleum resources, and reducing government infrastructure expenditures. Its research and development into new road construction methods and improving skid resistance will make roads safer and more sustainable while reducing the carbon footprint for future generations.

Pavement preservation solutions satisfy the definition of sustainable pavements. It begins with the concept that more cost-effective and less extensive pavement treatment options are available to a pavement candidate that is still in a relatively good condition. Pavement preservation treatments are thinner, placed faster, less disruptive, involve less contract administration, produce less GHG emissions, consume less energy, and conserve material.

“It is uncommon to never change the oil in your car; preventative car maintenance is economically practical,” says Dean. “Preventative road maintenance is economically sound and a powerful tool used to extend the lifespan of an existing roadway.”



The Health of our Oceans

Read Our Current Issue


Up in Smoke

June 2024

To Make a Northwest Passage

May 2024

From Here to There

April 2024

More Past Editions

Featured Articles