Clean­ing Up

Kiely Ma­cLean isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty – and now, it’s pay­ing off


LIFE IS ALL ABOUT CHOICES. Take the one that Kiely Ma­cLean made when she grad­u­ated from the in­ter­na­tional busi­ness pro­gram at Nancy-Univer­sité in 2011. At the time, there was a job op­por­tu­nity that would have kept her in Europe, where she’d al­ready had the good for­tune of trav­el­ling and ex­plor­ing. In­stead, she chose to take a job clean­ing oil tanks in Lloy­d­min­ster. “Within a week I had gone from France to Lloy­d­min­ster, work­ing on the ground in cov­er­alls, boots and a hard hat. It was a cul­ture shock,” says Ma­cLean, who’s now the CEO of the re­cently cre­ated RJ Ma­Clean Tank Ser­vices.

At the time, her father Greg was in Al­berta run­ning a crew do­ing tank clean­ing and he needed more help. Kiely thought the hard la­bor would be a great way to pay for the glo­be­trot­ting she’d been do­ing. What she didn’t know at the time was that the ex­pe­ri­ence in the field would play a key role in her fu­ture. “When I started, I was re­ally green. I didn’t even know what a pipe wrench was. But I’m re­ally lucky that I had great men­tor­ship. Within a day on the crew I felt like I was with fam­ily,” she says. “I at­tribute my abil­i­ties to that field­work. If you want to be a leader in any com­pany, you need to know what hap­pens on the ground level. It gave me the con­text and abil­ity to see the whole pic­ture.”

It didn’t take long be­fore she was a pro­ject man­ager run­ning her own tank clean­ing crew. She then took on a busi­nesses de­vel­op­ment role for an Azer­bai­jan-based tank clean­ing com­pany, which she helped find work for in Canada. That ex­pe­ri­ence led her to part­ner­ing with her father in 2013 on Ma­Clean Tank Ser­vices, a con­sult­ing com­pany that helped in­ter­na­tional clients man­age tank clean­ing projects. “We were con­sult­ing all over the world, in Brunei, in Kaza­khstan and all over Africa,” she says. “We were pro­vid­ing the con­sult­ing ser­vices and our clients started to ask if we could bring the equip­ment too.”

With the com­pany poised to grow, they con­nected with RJ Oil, which had de­vel­oped an oil-wa­ter sep­a­ra­tion tech­nol­ogy that would be in­stru­men­tal in cut­ting down the amount of wa­ter needed to clean tanks. To­gether, they formed RJ Ma­Clean Tank Ser­vices in Au­gust, with the MacLeans pro­vid­ing the ex­per­tise in the ro­bot­ics and RJ Oil pro­vid­ing its oil sep­a­ra­tion tech­nol­ogy. “In the field, I was find­ing that even though we were re­cy­cling the wa­ter, the client was still send­ing it for dis­posal. Our con­cept here is us­ing sep­a­ra­tion tech­nol­ogy, so we can re­use the same wa­ter and give the client back their oil,” she says. “It’s es­sen­tially in situ re­me­di­a­tion.”

The new Ed­mon­ton-based com­pany has al­ready wrapped up its first ma­jor pro­ject and, with the tank-clean­ing sea­son wind­ing down for win­ter, it is now look­ing to se­cure jobs in South Amer­ica, Europe and in Van­cou­ver, where tem­per­a­tures are still mild enough for clean­ing jobs. Mov­ing for­ward, Ma­cLean is aim­ing to grow the com­pany into a leader in op­ti­miz­ing wa­ter us­age. “We want to be a com­pany spear­head­ing changes for typ­i­cal tankclean­ing pro­cesses and re­me­di­a­tion. Wa­ter is such an im­por­tant re­source and we’re see­ing that world­wide,” she says. “In Canada there will be more of an ef­fort by the stake­hold­ers in the en­ergy in­dus­try to op­ti­mize our wa­ter us­age. We’re al­ready think­ing about that here.”

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