North Star Systems: The Only Company with Technology Solutions for Tanks
Across the northern fields of Western Canada, farmers use anhydrous ammonia to fertilize their canola. Aaron Serhan owned an agriculture retail business that moved the tanks of fertilizer from field to field. As he grew his business, he also grew frustrated with keeping track of the tanks and knowing how much fertilizer was in them.
Aaron founded North Star Systems in late 2015 and later was joined by colleague Curtis Kolibab and Denis Levi, a developer with twenty-years experience, to help with the technical development of Tattle Systems. The team created a hardware, monitoring and software solution that allows for the tracking and inventory anything liquid that is moved and stored in a tank.
As Kolibab explains, “The problem was with the fertilizer tanks that were getting towed around the farmer’s fields. You never knew where they were, how full or empty they were or where to pick them up and refill them. Farmers would have to stop and guess how full they were every twenty minutes. Plus, Aaron hated sending his drivers out to drive 200 km to get to a tank and find it half full. It was a specific problem and there needed to be a better way.”
Levi tackled the problem using durable hardware and innovative sensor systems, “Imagine a steel tank on the back roads bouncing around on dirt roads. This tech was created in Saskatchewan, so we needed to find a rugged solution that could deal with the extremes of the environment.”
The team matched their technical skills and deep understanding of agriculture retail systems to create the solution. Their system tracks tanks in real-time, provides weather information and helps the retailer plan dispatch routes. “It’s comparable to the Uber app, but for trucks with tanks,” smiles Kolibab.
The results have paid off. North Star Systems have clients across Canada, the United States and Mexico. They’ve also developed fifteen products to service different types of liquid transportation beyond agriculture.
“Agriculture is 90% of our business, but there are also opportunities with the tanks used in the energy sector for oil and gas distribution. Some of our clients are in water and wastewater, we can work with any liquid that needs to be transported and stored by a tank,” shares Kolibab.
Their clients report a reduction in dispatch and delivery costs. “Agriculture retailers see a twenty-five percent reduction in logistics alone. They generally see an ROI within a season and a half,” adds Kolibab. “It also raises their customer service as several people will choose a company just because our system makes their experience so much better.”
The Saskatoon-based team has grown to fifteen people and points out that two years ago there were only four people. The exciting growth will continue from Saskatchewan as “the opportunities here are limitless. Not only for the people who live here, but also for the people who want to do business here,” says Kolibab.
Product: Tattle Systems
Founders: Denis Levi, Curtis Kolibab, Aaron Serhan
Incorporation: November 2015