50 Years of Quality People and Processes

Cobalt Group
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Headquartered in Prince George, British Columbia, taking full advantage of the area’s strong forestry, mining and energy sectors, Cobalt Group has established a reputation for being a multiple industry-leading full-service solutions provider.
Cobalt Group has been in operation since 1965 and has changed ownership only a few times over the course of its 50 year history. In 2015, one of Cobalt’s business partners left the company and Peter and Brenda Dawley assumed full ownership over Cobalt Group and its component divisions. Today, Cobalt Group offers construction, fabrication, installation, piping and mechanical services and solutions, completing projects of various sizes with an astute attention to detail while always maintaining a focus on safety, quality, and the satisfaction of its clients’ needs.

The company is composed of Cobalt Industries, Cobalt Industrial Projects, Stone Mountain Projects, and Blackridge Industrial Services. Peter Dawley explained that the company’s structure and organization is used as a means to satisfy clients with an industry-specific focus. Cobalt Group’s clients receive specialized knowledge and expertise pertaining to their industry demands.

“Cobalt is basically B.C. pulp and paper. That’s its focus,” described Dawley. “Cobalt Projects is a little more diverse. It looks after Alberta, so there’s an oil and gas component there, but once again it is pulp and paper and solid wood. Stone Mountain is a B.C. functioning company, focussed on mining and solid wood and Blackridge is focussed on Vancouver Island solid wood.”

Cobalt Group maintains a large, quality controlled machine shop capable of precision machining and grinding. The shop is licensed for pressure system design and fabrication, as well as custom fabrication, repairs and rebuilds, flange facing, and field services.

“There are not very many maintenance and service contractors that also own their own machine shop,” said Dawley of Cobalt Group’s major point of difference. Beyond the company’s machine shop and diverse capabilities, Dawley credits Cobalt’s people and its processes as having a substantial impact on the company’s success.

Indeed, Cobalt Group focuses on the development of its people and its processes in order to maximize results and efficiency across its operations. The Group offers innovative, cost-effective, results-driven solutions. By simplifying the planning, building and maintenance of projects, Cobalt Group is able to execute on any and all project goals.

“We spend a lot of time on front-side work, planning, organizing and making sure that we know what we are doing before we go and do it. Again, that’s the process part,” Dawley explained. “The people part – we like to hire good people and make them even better. Without good people, you haven’t got anything. Process drives you to be fundamentally organized and on top of your game.”

The company specializes in shutdown support, maintenance, and turnarounds, as well as piping and pressure vessels, ongoing maintenance services, capital construction projects of up to $10 million, structural fabrication and installation, equipment fabrication, and assembly. Cobalt Group offers full field services and emergency support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cobalt Group remains committed to bringing safety, quality, and value to each of its clients in every project it undertakes, ensuring that projects are completed safely, come in on schedule and on or under budget, and meet or exceed client expectations in the process.

“Our job is to make sure that the projects are safe, timely, that they are cost-effective and that we beat their schedules and their cost,” Dawley explained. “If we come under budget or we can bring a project in under time, that’s good. Nobody likes to talk to a contractor that is overpriced and over budget.”

Cobalt Group has the leadership, safety expertise, the diverse industry knowledge, the resources, and the capacity to deliver on all project outcomes, regardless of project size. Cobalt Group ensures the right resources are assigned to the right task.

With access to a database of over 1200 highly skilled professionals and trade specialists, Cobalt Group is an employer of choice. The Group has a dedicated resource management team that is able to draw from its extensive database to meet any and all fluctuations in demand. “Competition is a wonderful word,” stated Dawley, “But it depends on whether you can compete. We believe we can compete,” he says, attributing these capacities to Cobalt Group’s commitment to developing strong people and processes.

At the heart of Cobalt Group’s operations is safety. The Group has integrated and maintains exceptional quality and safety programs and procedures across each of its divisions. Cobalt Group offers clients unparalleled project estimating, planning and management, in addition to the benefits of detailed follow-up, comprehensive documentation and reporting. Cobalt Group offers a number of safety training courses including fall prevention, rigging and hoisting, as well as equipment training and WHMIS, to name a few. In 2015, Cobalt Group maintained a medical incident rate of zero.

Cobalt Group’s effective Safety Management Program includes an on-site safety officer and open communication regarding potential site hazards, setting clear expectations with clients and employees. Cobalt Group has adopted a culture of safety that is reinforced across its operations, in every project it undertakes, by every team member.

“When you get a request from a client, it’s not ‘send me people,’ it’s ‘send me your best people.’ So consequently, you have to be engaged in training,” Dawley shared. “Safety is a huge part of our business, making sure the guys have the correct certifications and tickets as well as supervision, and all the pieces that make them better workers.”

Cobalt Group conducts safety meetings and audits and creates job-specific hazard analyses and field-level hazard assessments in order to ensure that its safety culture is reinforced. Cobalt Group makes every effort to ensure the safety of its employees, its clients, the environment and the public, investigating all incidents and near misses. Cobalt Group is a member of pre-qualification companies ISNet, BROWZ, TV-TC-QC , ComplyWorks and PICS. The company is also a BCSA ‘A’ licensed contractor and is ABSA certified for construction, repair and alteration of piping systems and pressure vessels, a BCSA ‘MA’ licensed contractor for fabrication of pressure vessels to ASME Division 8 Section 1, with a CWB certified full-time welding inspector on staff.

The Group prioritizes “investing in people, so at the end of the day you’ve got a person that can function the way you need them to function. Employees are the key to our growth and success,” said Dawley, noting Cobalt Group’s reputation is only as good as its last job. Cobalt Group has maintained an average of over 100 000 work hours per year, and continues to deliver results.

From people to process, Cobalt Group has solidified its place in the market as an industry leader and as a partner clients can trust to get the job done. Dawley attributes this success to understanding the markets in which Cobalt Group participates as well as its clients’ needs, working with them to guarantee results. “You need to have a good client base,” he stated. “You need to understand the tolerance of the market. Each client has a tolerance level for cost impact. Everyone is looking for help these days and you’d better understand your own business before you go and assist somebody else and theirs.”

The team of highly skilled and knowledgeable professionals that Dawley has assembled at Cobalt Group has positioned the company for continued growth and success in the future. Interested in strategic growth, the goal is to improve shareholder value over the next five years, expanding the company’s markets, completing all work safely, and enhancing the services being offered within those markets.

“We’re switching gears from being short term shutdown and maintenance into long term sustainable projects, and all of these sectors have longer term projects coming online,” said Dawley of the forestry, mining, and engineered wood products markets Cobalt serves, noting the positive business climate in British Columbia at the moment. To be sure, a large percentage of Cobalt Group’s work comes from repeat business. “That’s what it’s about for us, repeat business,” concluded Dawley, as Cobalt Group continues to look for new and better ways to service its client base, continuing to deliver quality services and offerings, simplifying the plan, build and maintenance of any project.

Cobalt Group has relaunched its website. You can check out what’s new at Cobalt Group by visiting: www.cobalt-group.ca!



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