“What gets measured and rewarded gets done.” That is Don Cooper’s managing philosophy. With that vision in mind, the president and general manager of Innovator Industrial Services is building a company with a focus on multifaceted training, technology innovation and a commitment to providing exceptional customer service.
Innovator Industrial Services provides construction and maintenance services to oil and gas, energy, pipeline, mining industries, and their associated contractors and works directly with owners like Suncor, Shell and Kinder Morgan, as well as with general contractors. Cooper believes that the biggest difference between his company and the competition is the way Innovator delivers its work and the technology it brings to the job. “We lower our customer’s overall cost while improving productivity and safety,” he says.
The Innovator Difference
Innovator cross-trains its employees to promote the development of multiple skill sets. “We made a commitment in our organization to cross-train all of our people in all of our service lines to make them more valuable to us, to our clients and to themselves,” Cooper says.
Innovator also ties compensation to an employee’s skill set. “We have an internal matrix based on all the skill sets required across our service lines,” Cooper explains. Advancement to higher skill and pay levels is tied to learning multiple skill sets.”
The company’s training program is peer-based. All employees are involved, and senior technicians will evaluate the progress of up-and-coming technicians. They also schedule training classes and help less-experienced workers advance.
Cooper established the peer-training program because of his 20 years of industry experience. “The thing that our system tries to counter is that your skill set will effect an increase your compensation – it is directly tied to your pay.”
A cross-trained workforce ensures that Innovator can do more for its clients with much less. On a recent job, a client was working with a competitor that had more than 80 people on the job. The other company ran into a roadblock, and the client called Innovator to help. “We sent nine people to the job, and over the next three weeks we were able to out-perform the competition in terms of the amount of work and the complexity of the work we did,” Cooper explains.
During those three weeks of work, Innovator’s cost for its client was about $300,000 while the competition had planned to charge more than $2 million.
Cooper knew that exceptional training had to be paired with advanced technology to reach the place in the industry where he wanted to be: at the top. “The specialty services industry for the most part is using the same technology that was available 15 years ago, whether it’s in Houston, Texas, or Alberta, Canada,” Cooper says.
“We searched the globe for technology partners with highly innovative products and it has really made an impact on several of our service lines,” according to Cooper.
Innovator Industrial Services has introduced new ways to connect flanges, new hybrid testing tools with better range and capabilities, more complex piping geometry and leak repair using nanotechnology sealants. “This wide array of innovation ties directly into our training,” Cooper explains. “We want to have exceptionally trained people and very innovative, leading technology.” EMI