When the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) came into force in January 2015, it opened new opportunities for businesses in western Canada. Before getting started in South Korea, however, western entrepreneurs must learn how to do business there. The Korea Papers are a series of case studies that present practical lessons and insights from companies that have found opportunities, challenges and successes in South Korea. They are intended as an aid to companies considering the market.
These Korea Papers grew from an informal meeting of Canadian trade promotion agencies where a need for new, innovative outreach materials to encourage firms to consider new markets was raised.
Trium Environmental Inc.
Trium Environmental is a small and successful soil remediation business headquartered in Alberta. It has found long-term success in Asia, but only after some hard lessons learned. During the past decade, CEO B.J. Min and President Jevins Waddell have developed a business model that can weather the ups and downs of the Alberta energy industry. Building a strong presence in Asia – first in Korea, now in China – has helped. Trium is a tiny player in the massive environmental services industry. In Alberta, the Environmental Products and Services (EPS) industry is made up of 1,330 companies and generates roughly $2.8 billion in annual revenues.1 The large energy and mining sectors in Alberta, combined with high demand for environmental safety and sustainability, have fuelled opportunity for Alberta firms.
Trium began operations in 2005 when Min, Waddell and a third partner left their large engineering firm to pursue environmental consulting, specializing in soil and groundwater assessment and remediation. Min and Waddel’s experience in Alberta’s oilpatch helped them go beyond the industry standard of landfilling, digging out containments and dumping them into a landfill, to develop a substantially new process of in-situ soil remediation. This new process allowed for soil remediation onsite – a process that eliminated the costs of extraction and movement of soil and space to deposit it. Focusing on this niche market, the firm grew and profited. However, the 2007 recession and fall in oil prices hit the Alberta economy and Trium’s business declined. If Trium was going to continue to survive, let alone grow and profit, it needed to find a new market.
Download the full Trium case study in the pdf below