Bassett Petroleum Ltd. is playing in the big leagues, having just announced a multi-year deal to distribute Total lubricant products – the first time the latter will enter Western Canada – earlier this month.
“This is actually a really big deal,” said Bassett’s vice president and general manager Norm Bassett. “We’ve been working really hard and this will help us meet the needs of our customers.”
The company has grown over the last 25 years and, while headquartered in Hay River, operates in Alberta, as well. Bassett explained that the lubricants would only be distributed through their southern operations for now as the company has an existing contract in the NWT.
“It’s a slow progression,” he said. “We don’t want to put too many eggs in one basket. There won’t be any effects in Hay River, yet. This agreement is geared towards the south at the moment, but we do have plans to at some point see effects in Hay River.”
Bassett Petroleum sells and delivers lubricants and fuel, as well as other products, and also offers general freight services. Its new partner, Total Canada Inc., is the Canadian branch of Total S.A., based in Paris, France. The latter is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, working in more than 130 countries.
Bassett Petroleum will start rolling out Total lubricants at their location in Sherwood Park, Alta., according to Bassett, and move from there to Fort McMurray.
“This is going to ensure an even longer legacy for Bassett,” he said. “What we can offer will be more diverse. We already provide a lot of different products and this is just going to improve that. At least in the south, we’re going to become a one-stop-shop, something that’s really customer-friendly.”
While the deal does primarily affect the company’s Alberta branches, Bassett Petroleum’s general success will reverberate into Hay River, demonstrating the competitiveness of local business on a national and international scale, according to Mayor Andrew Cassidy.
“This is definitely going to pave the way for others to continue to think big,” he told The Hub. “Hay River is aggressively going after opportunities both in the NWT and across the country. We have an awesome business community and really strong entrepreneurs who are just taking it to the next level.”
Cassidy said the municipality is taking advantage of developments in the oil and gas industries and trying to make connections between companies working in Alberta and the Sahtu and local businesses.
“We know that anything coming North passes through here,” he said. “We want to make sure our businesses are getting a chance to get in on that.”
While conducting business with more markets is never a bad thing, Hay River Chamber of Commerce president Janet-Marie Fizer said not doing so isn’t really an option in a town of this size.
“Bassett isn’t the only one looking outside Hay River,” she said. “You got to move.”
Fizer said she is hearing from retailers that the usual after-Christmas slow-down doesn’t account for the drop in traffic this year, with some businesses reporting their sales are down nearly 15 per cent from last year.
“It’s great to hear about Bassett not only competing on a national level but, then, winning the contract,” she said. “They’re a company that’s on the move and it’s awesome that they have their roots in Hay River.”