Titan Environmental Containment grows during pandemic
November 26, 2021 – Winnipeg, MANITOBA – In 2006 when Brett Burkard and Kelly Sitarz got tired of asking, begging and pushing two different employers to expand to take on larger markets, they quit their jobs and took the risk to build a company so strong that during a pandemic in 2021 they expanded. They now have a 28,000 square foot distribution centre in Ontario’s GTA to support their customers around the world.
“Our only regret? That we didn’t start our own business sooner,” says Kelly Sitarz, president and partner of Titan Environmental Containment.
During Small Business Week, the World Trade Centre Winnipeg points to the owners of Titan as a stellar example of Manitoba entrepreneurs at their best – recognizing a gap in the market, taking the risk to start a new company to fill it and fearlessly learning to trade across Canada and around the world.
“When I first heard their story, I knew they had that entrepreneur spirit that we love to support at the WTC Winnipeg and to help connect with the right people here and around the world,” says WTC Winnipeg President Mariette Mulaire.
Titan Environmental Containment supplies, fabricates and installs high-quality geosynthetics and specialty civil engineering construction products that help manage the environment and prolong the life of critical infrastructure. Everything that they offer is designed to protect soil, water, and air, with the goal of helping to reduce carbon footprint and costs on construction projects.
“For example, if a road needs a thickness of one yard of gravel to be stable, we can come along and add our geogrid product as a layer to reinforce the road base so that you only need one foot of gravel. That reduces the carbon footprint needed to source the gravel by 66 per cent, and lowers the cost of building the road,” says Sitarz.
In the first few years all of Titan’s clients were in the agricultural sector with large operations, many of them keen to protect ground water tables from contamination of raw sewage from hog and dairy barns. Titan’s geosynthetic products were used to line earthen manure storage ponds to ensure there was no leakage into the ground.
Fast forward 15 years and although Titan has maintained all of its original agricultural clientele, they account for less than 5 per cent of the company’s current client base today. It now services projects in civil infrastructure, oil and gas, mining, hydro-electricity, recreation, and water and waste management. They have gone from primarily servicing Manitoba to doing business across Canada, into the US and even overseas from Africa, to Barbados, Chile, Iraq, Ireland and Mexico to name a few.
When a nickel mine in Lynn Lake, Manitoba needed to cover its open mine to protect it from rain filing it up and leaching into the ground water, it looked to Titan which worked for two years to install nine million square feet of its product to cap the mine.
“Once we built drinking water tanks for the US military on their army bases in Iraq, we realized if we can work for the US military in Iraq we can work anywhere,” says Brett Burkard, Titan’s CEO and partner.
Burkard and Sitarz also had a great business philosophy: that every mistake was only a mistake if you didn’t learn from it. To reduce the risks at the outset they joined the World Trade Centre’s Trade Accelerator Program (TAP).
“WTC and TAP had all the connections we needed. During the TAP course they introduced us to people at the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada. There was a plethora of information at WTC,” adds Burkard. “As much as possible you want to stop any mistakes up front, so you need someone like WTC and TAP to get a little bit of help to learn the right lessons early. We learned ‘Is this the right country to enter? Will we get paid? Will the time zones make it too difficult if we’re trying to work in Australia and Africa from Manitoba?”, says Burkard.