About Us

Celebrating 75 Years

A Story of 75 Years of Excellence

Like so many great achievements, ATCO’s beginnings were humble: a conversation between S.D. and R.D. Southern, father and son, at a dinner table in a modest bungalow in Calgary and an idea for a trailer rental company. But while the beginnings of each great achievement may seem small, the efforts that turn them into what they become are anything but. They result from the incredible effort, passion and dedication to excellence of everyone involved.

R.D. Southern – one of ATCO’s founders – knew what it would take to turn ATCO from a bright idea into a global force when he said, “Going far beyond the call of duty. Doing more than others expect. This is what excellence is all about. It comes from striving, maintaining the highest standards, looking after the smallest detail and going the extra mile. Excellence means caring. It means making a special effort to do more.”

So, this year, we aren’t just celebrating the 75th Anniversary of ATCO – we’re celebrating the people who have embraced our shared vision of excellence for over seven decades and helped propel this organization forward. This isn’t the story of a company; it’s the story of thousands of people who have worked together to create something great.

We invite you to join us in celebrating this achievement and checking back here for more content over the coming months.

75th anniversary logo

Anniversary Books

Dive deep into the history of ATCO and the people who have transformed the business over 75 years with a special three volume anniversary set.

Video Gallery


1947 – 1972

Every story has a beginning and ATCO’s was one of a sharp entrepreneurial mind, hard work and opportunity. R.D. Southern, almost by chance, was offered a single trailer to sell by a friend and player on Calgary’s football team, the Stampeders. While he was excited about the singular opportunity, he almost certainly couldn’t imagine how that one trailer would become a global business.

Rd Southern
ATCO began in 1947 in Alberta, Canada when father S.D. and son R.D. Southern started Alberta Trailer Hire to provide housing accommodations to workers in Canada’s first oil boom.
Alberta Trailers
A street view of the Alberta Trailer Sales lot in the early 1960's.
WOWIC’s manufacturing plant in Elizabeth, South Australia, proudly flies the Australian flag. The pennant indicates official recognition by commerce and government of WOWIC’s role as a major Australian exporter.
Space Program
ATCO’s initial contract with Boeing was to supply housing for thousands of US personnel building missile silos between 1958 and 1967. The silos housed Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles. ATCO worked with Boeing for nearly seven years and, by the time the Minuteman program was complete, ATCO had sold approximately $8 million worth of structures. Photo courtesy The Boeing Company.


The Fort Yukon Long Range Radar Site was formerly a US ground control intercept station. In 1983, it was redesignated a Long Range Radar site as part of the Alaska Radar System. Today, it remains active as part of the Alaska NORAD Region.

1972 – 1997

After the massive growth and success of the early days, the next three decades would prove to be some of the most transformational, challenging and important. From becoming the biggest oil driller in Canada overnight and the historic acquisition and repatriation of Canadian Utilities, to the creation of ATCO Frontec and the successful pursuit of the North Warning System contract, the second 25 years of ATCO’s history would define the direction of the company for years to come.

Suadi Arabia Camp
Jubail in Saudi Arabia was a $45-million project for ATCO. The 1977 contract was to provide housing for builders of the industrial complex. The project site was made up of three separate complexes, each consisting of four 550-man camps.
ATCO Drilling
ATCO Drilling had rigs all across Alberta and was comprised of several divisions: Rocky Mountain, Bow Island, Sarcee, and Mustang. It also had a service centre in Nisku for repairs and to implement new rig concepts.
Olympic Cauldron Opening Ceremonies
1988 Olympics Cauldron in Calgary, Alberta.


1997 – 2022

With ATCO’s foundation, vision and purpose clearly set the company was prepared for the challenges, changes and triumphs of the most recent years. The spirit of innovation, excellence and community that was with ATCO from the beginning would punctuate the next 25 years in the face of natural disasters around the world, evolving and leading the energy transition and even the loss of the company’s founder, R.D. Southern in 2016.

fort mcmurray west transmission
Valued at $1.6 billion, the Alberta PowerLine project was the first transmission infrastructure public-private partnership in Canada. It was an enormous undertaking to build the 508-km line, involving 3,000 meetings with affected parties.
Kandahar Airfiled
In 2005, ATCO Frontec would provide complete camp support services and facilities management at the Kabul International Airport for NATO troops from around the world. A year later, ATCO Frontec would establish a European office in Budapest, Hungary, to provide better communication with existing customers while building capabilities in the region.
Oldman River Power Generation
The Oldman River Hydro Plant is a 32 megawatt (MW) run-of-river project in southern Alberta, commissioned in 2003. The facility is jointly owned by ATCO and the Piikani Nation – one of 35 Indigenous partnerships we are privileged to foster across Canada. Power generated at the plant meets the needs of up to 25,000 households.
ATCO has a big presence in Puerto Rico, courtesy of its collaboration with Texas-based Quanta Services in LUMA, which is replacing all of the island’s electrical infrastructure.