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Ron Mix

                                                     History of MTS

                            Pioneering Tank Lifting and moving Technology

 

MTS is also known as Mix Brothers Tank Services, Mix Brothers was originally founded over 50 years ago and has been involved in everything from trucking, house and building moving, tank construction, both large field erected AST tanks as well as large shop built truck-able oil field tanks.

 

 When Uranium City in northern Saskatchewan was closed down and the mine was required to reconstitute both the mine site and the abandoned town site; Mix Brothers, headed by Ron Mix, the nephew of the original Mix Brothers; spent the next several years moving the houses and buildings out of the city and selling them to customers all over western Canada. If you take the time to see how remote Uranium City was, you will be able to imagine the challenges this must have involved.

 

  Ron Mix was a true entrepreneur and spent his life with his ear to ground listening for the next best business opportunity to come along, and was not afraid to risk everything he had if he believed in an idea or opportunity. Of course, not everything was successful, but he never let this slow him down, and so it was simply on to the next effort for Ron.

 Ron developed many of the heavy lifting and moving techniques that are used by all the big heavy moving companies to this day; it follows that this would have been so, since Ron had grown up moving large and awkward heavy structures with his father and uncles.

 

  When Ron was only five years old; his father had him on the roof of houses and buildings as they moved them down the highway; Little Ron’s job was to lift the power lines over the chimneys or any other protuberances that the wires could get hooked on. Many movers of that day were missing fingers and parts of their hands from grabbing the line where there was a weak or bare spot in the insulation. Ron was always proud that he had done this for years and still had all his fingers.

 

  One time, while his father was pulling a house down the highway in the middle of a cold winter night in Saskatchewan Canada, they came across a set of telegraph lines that Ron’s father failed to see, and little Ron was unable to lift this many wires over the chimney fast enough and the wires all got hooked on the house. Ron’s father drove for several more miles until he looked in his mirror and saw the tops of all the telegraph poles being snapped off.

 

  He then stopped the truck, and sat silently in the cab for several minutes, believing that he had just killed his son; terrified of what he might find when he got out of the truck and looked up on the roof of the house. But Ron was too fast and self-reliant at only 5 years old to allow himself to be caught by the lines. After what probably seemed like an eternity, Ron called out to his dad wondering why he had not got out of the truck yet.

  His dad scrambled out of the cab and of course was so relieved to see his son standing unharmed on the roof of the house. It was not until years later after having children of his own that Ron considered what his dad must have been going through sitting in the cab of that truck.

 

   Ron approached everything with this inherited and taught gusto, and so the prizes were large, but so were the losses. Sometime in the late 1960s Ron bought out his uncles shares of Mix Brothers and got into the tank lifting and re-foundation business sometime in the 1970’s.  In 1974 Ron took on the challenge of moving a tall water tower from the city of Lloydminster to Kitscoty, about 15 miles away. At the time it was the world record for the tallest structure ever moved down a public highway on rubber tires. To this day the town of Kitscoty counts this as a significant event in the history of the village. And it is mentioned on their village website. http://www.albertafirst.com/profile_pdf_files/June%20newsletter.pdf

 

  In 1969 Alexander J Morrison was developing a tank building method where large AST tanks could be built from coiled strip steel and fitted directly into the shell. His method required the roof to be built first and then lifted 10’ high to fit the shell course under it, and then lifted again for the next course and so on.

 

 Mr. Morrison had designed several different lifting apparatuses to lift the tank in conjunction with his tank building machine affectionately know as the “Tank Mach” pronounced Tank Mack. After trying several different lifting systems with some success he was still not satisfied, he was searching for a better system to raise and lower tanks that would be versatile enough to suit his needs, and yet also be something he could afford to build.

 

 While looking through the catalogue of an emerging Canadian surplus outlet called Princes Auto, he saw listed very long heavy duty hydraulic cylinders that were left over from the Apollo space program. They were originally built to stand up the huge Saturn five Rockets used for the moon shot. Alex bought as many of these cylinders as he thought he would need, and from them built the world’s first long stroke Hi-Lift Jacks.

 

 At some point Alex and Ron met either in the late 1970’s or the early 1980’s and Ron always keen to spot better technologies and opportunities; was able to purchase some jacks from Alex, and Alex also designed a unified oil volume delivery system for Ron that would be capable of handling such large jacks and suitable for lifting tanks. MTS still uses this technology today in all of our unified oil delivery systems when we Hi-Lift tanks.

 

  Ron was curious to learn all he could from Alex about high-lifting large AST tanks; because at that time Alex was the only person in the world who had any kind of experience doing it. Alex had the added advantage of having lifted tanks during various stages of construction, so he knew what should, and more importantly should not be done. Coupled with all the lifting and moving experience that Ron already had this gave Ron the head start he needed go ahead and service a whole new market.

 

 For many years since MTS have been hi-lifting very large AST tanks allowing tank owners to reclaim added service life to their storage capacity that was previously not though possible. When MTS first began high-lifting tanks, the challenge was convincing the industry that it could be done. After years of providing this unique service more and more people in the industry are requesting to have their tanks Hi-Lifted. 

 

  MTS developed and engineered special methods and cable systems to support the floor of large AST tanks when they are Hi-Lifted. It took a lot of convincing before the engineers of the tank owners would let us high lift a tank. They for one did not believe it could be done, and two, our engineering had to gone over many times because they were not sure that our cable floor support design would work; even though we may have demonstrated it many times on other successful high lift projects.

 

  Today, more and more companies are saying they can lift tanks, they do not have the problem of having to convince their clients that it can be done, MTS already proved that. However, these companies do not have the experience to do it the right way, if they did, they would not use airbags, which is becoming a popular way to lift tanks; popular only because they are cheap. Airbags damage the tanks inner structures because of their inability to lift evenly. Not to mention Induced “Tank Wander” very long turnaround times, extended schedules, labor intensive work and large jobsite footprint. The MTS system is fast, has a small jobsite foot print and creates zero “Tank Wander”.

 

 Ron’s heavy moving experience easily translated into the tank moving business. His experience with high lifting tanks complimented all his moving experience and with this specialized knowledge he was able to move tanks for his clients so they could maximize their terminal land use or they could purchase tanks from other terminals that he could move for them.

 

  Tank lifting, foundation repairs, and tank moving became the main staples of MTS’s business and so MTS became very specialized experts in this area. After Hurricane Katrina the many tanks along the Gulf Coast were washed and blown clear off their foundations. MTS was able to replace over 30 of these tanks back to their foundations within 5 months of the storm. For a company the size of MTS this was a remarkable achievement.

 

  It was during the movement of all these tanks that Dave Morrison; younger brother of Alex, designed the new “Tank Turtle” tank moving system that MTS is using now with great success and rave reviews. Dave Morrison has over the years both built tanks with Alex using his tank building machine called the “Tank Mach” and worked with MTS on many high lifts, tank moves, tank cleaning and tank stabilizing and re-foundation projects over the years.

 

The “Tank Turtle” system was put to the test after hurricane Ike when it was used by MTS to relocate nearly 30 tanks, where it enabled MTS to do this including all the necessary foundation work that went along with that in less than 120 days. This was very pleasing to our clients who were glad to get back to business as soon as possible and minimize the economic impact that the storm damage caused.

 

 MTS has continued to improve on the moving system, and have discovered it to continue to exceed its expectations with each move project. It has been able to move tanks over rough and soft terrain where no wheeled unit could possibly traverse. It can climb relatively steep inclines with ease, it can maneuver in very tight spaces, and accurately positions tanks exactly how and where they need to be. They are self propelled so no heavy equipment or tractors are needed to push or pull the tank.

 

 The “Tank Turtles” are best suited to moves less than a ¼ mile, however can move tanks any distance. If a tank is needed to be moved several miles it may be best to load them on a deck trailer or a series of sets of wheeled bogies or even a portable rail track system, but sometimes these systems require so much maneuvering room and require such a large foot print of equipment that they can not fit the tank in where the owner would like the tank to be, or even be able to get in to where the tank originally was. The Tank Turtles can walk the tank out to where it can be loaded with a long distance moving system, and then walked into the new site and precisely positioned by the Tank Turtles.  

 

 MTS has grown to be known as the leading tank lifting company in North America when it comes to on-time delivery and leading technology. It is the technology that MTS has pioneered and capitalized on that has given it longevity and success. Currently MTS plans to continue this tradition and make every effort to stay on the forefront of this industry. Like our clients say; “Why would anyone have it done any other way?” and  we answer; “Because they do not know about us yet!” 

 

Ron Mix passed away in Dec 2005

Alex Morrison is retired and living in Edmonton Alberta Canada

Dave Morrison is currently Vice President of Mix Bros Tank services and runs all MTS USA operations.

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