Written by Nerissa McNaughton | Business in Edmonton Magazine, March 2019
In 1994 Norm and Deb Kellert purchased a fleet of four trucks and launched Rebel Heart Water Hauling Ltd.
“When the company was founded, its sole purpose was to provide water services for drilling rigs and oil companies throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. However, during spring break up, extended rain periods and drilling downturns, there was little to no work, which made it challenging to hold onto staff,” explains Joshua Laczko, president and CEO.
Laczko joined Rebel Heart as a part-time employee in 2012. Within a few short years his work ethic, ambition and innovations resulted in his purchasing the business from the Kellerts and earning a Top 40 Under 40 nomination.
“In the spring of 1999, it was decided that the company would expand into gravel trucks for the local construction industry,” Laczko continues. “This diversification would broaden the revenue sources, help smooth out the cyclical stresses of the business,and reduce downtime, thus improving our driver retention and expanding the fleet. Upon entering the local construction market, our reputation for timely and dependable services grew and we gained larger contracts.”
The company grew rapidly. Following the 2014 energy crash, Laczko applied the same diversification strategy as his former boss and mentor, enabling Rebel Heart to expand its services, adding vacuum trucks to the fleet and acquiring other companies despite adverse economic conditions.
Rebel Heart’s corporate mission statement is: We Solve Problems. This is evidenced in the company’s many high-profile projects that require a combination of hard work, software and technology, strict safety standards, site supervision and accurate cost controls. Such projects include collaborations on ice road projects in Fort McMurray, Conklin, and Wabasca; assisting in the expansion of local refineries and pipelines; helping to fight the Fort McMurray “The Beast” fire; working on Edmonton’s LRT expansion and much more.
“We work on unique projects and have equipment that requires us to think and work outside the box,” smiles Laczko. “Our tractor units are customized to pull/operate multiple styles of trailers, such as: belly dumps, end dumps, tankers, walking floors, etc. Our water, gravel, and vacuum trucks have technology that shares information in real time. Equipment is built lightweight for increased payload, and specialized heating systems on the water trucks keep them working in the cold. We have built potable water pumping/storage systems that provide water during line breaks and festivals. All of our equipment has been customized to make it safer and more effective. Everything is multi-use, which increases our utilization rate.”
Rebel Heart was one of the first oilfield trucking companies to receive a Certificate of Recognition (COR) from the Alberta Motor Transport Association.“With COR we were able to become a Partner in Injury Reduction (PIR) with WCB. In 2009 Rebel Heart joined an elite group of transportation companies called Partners in Compliance (PIC)*. We have also joined the Alberta Construction Safety Association to access additional training programs for our staff and supervisors,” says Laczko.
This year Rebel Heart celebrates 25 years and thanks its team, clients, vendors and founders for their ongoing support.
*Update: January 2022 – Rebel Heart is no longer a member of Partners in Compliance.