|Dean Lubarsky, P.Eng., and his
team take Equinox to new heights of success.
About five years ago, an enterprising young chemical engineer
gazed through his window at the glass towers of downtown Calgary.
It was dusk and office lights were blinking to life by the
"Those are all people I haven't even contacted yet,"
the young man said to himself.
To Dean Lubarsky, P.Eng., M.Eng., each illuminated office
represented an opportunity: one more potential customer for
Equinox Engineering, the oil and gas consulting company he
created as a one-man startup in October 1997.
Next morning, Mr. Lubarsky began working the phones, making
cold calls. And slowly, surely, projects began to roll in.
Today, his 80-employee team handles 50 to 60 projects at a
crack. In fact Equinox completed $120 million in projects
Still a reasonably small fish, to be sure. But Equinox remains
one of the fastest-rising oil and gas engineering firms in
The saga of one person's single-minded assault on what Mr.
Lubarsky terms the "very mature" engineering/procurement/construction
market should inspire the type of bright professional who
chafes while toiling semi-anonymously for a large, perhaps
"It's amazing, really, but much of the success is the
result of the phenomenal staff we've attracted," the
36-year-old says during an interview in his much expanded
office. (Equinox now occupies most of four floors of its building
on 12th Avenue S.W.)
Fertile Ground for Entrepreneurs
"I think Alberta is one of the few places left where
someone can start with nothing and go out, build relationships,
prove they're capable of doing the work, build trust, build
allegiances and make a go of it," he says.
"But you can't be afraid to call people and hear them
say they're not interested. You have to have the confidence
to stick your neck out and not get beat up when people don't
need your services."
When things happen, sometimes they happen big. Mr. Lubarsky
and the Equinox team are currently trading high-fives after
another year of continued growth. "We believe the main
reasons for Equinox's success are our quality personnel and
project experience, combined with our technically innovative
style and, of course, our EASE Program."
Mr. Lubarsky loves to extol the time-saving, cost-saving
virtues of EASE, which is an acronym for Electronically Automated
Systems Engineering. "Many of our clients continue to
compliment us on the project management system."
The proprietary EASE Program records details of every stage
of a project in progress, for ready future reference. Meanwhile,
EASE ensures quality assurance and control because deliverables
are simultaneously assigned to one employee responsible for
the work, as well as to another responsible for checking and
"When work is done, it's checked by the reviewer and
we have legal representation of the work performed. We use
the same data for reporting and for payroll.
"That same information goes on the invoice. So when our
client receives an invoice, he knows it's accurate because
he's already seen the information via the Internet, real-time,
as the project has developed," says Mr. Lubarsky.
From the Mud
A company like Equinox, however, needs more than good software.
A well-rounded background in the industry is a major plus,
and Mr. Lubarsky has just that.
By the time he earned his degree from the University of Alberta's
engineering faculty, Mr. Lubarsky had long since picked up
a practical grounding in oil and gas, right from mud level.
From age 14, he worked summers as a gofer for his dad's Edson-based
"I did everything: painting valves, pulling apart equipment,
general labour. I worked every summer with a number of service
companies through school and university," Mr. Lubarsky
After graduation, he landed a gig in sour gas processing for
RTM Engineering, and during that time he began work on his
master's degree in project management.
When Stanley Industrial Consultants subsequently acquired
the company, Mr. Lubarsky found himself in charge of the oil
and gas group, which eventually grew to 70 members.
"At this point, I was doing technical work, I was involved
in hiring, invoicing, working with settlements and dispute
resolution and marketing." That started Mr. Lubarsky's
itch to go solo. "I asked myself, What part of this business
don't you understand? I couldn't think of anything,"
he says with a smile.
Within a year or two, he was sitting in the corner office
on 12th Avenue S.W., with a $30,000 bankroll, a $250,000 line
of credit, an office manager and an eye on all those
gleaming corporate towers.
That's when Dean Lubarsky started working the phones.