Don Bell was born August 17th, 1931, in Vermilion Alberta where he lived in his earlier years attending elementary school. Don and his family moved to Edmonton when he was a teenager and he attended Oliver High School which has now been torn down.
Don started as an apprentice in the industrial insulation field in 1950 working at the CIL Plant, Imperial Oil Refinery and Cellonese plant gaining training and experience in this field which carried his interest for the rest of his working life.
At this point in time larger industrial insulation projects in Saskatchewan were performed by companies from Alberta and Manitoba with the smaller projects being performed by the local plumbing and heating companies. The need for a Saskatchewan based insulation company was apparent and upon marrying his lifelong wife Laurette in 1952 they Inoved to Regina with their two young children and in October of 1954 they started and incorporated Insulation Applicators Ltd. which remains a Bell family business to this day.
Starting a business, raising a family and borrowing $10,000.00 was a real challenge and an education for Don and Laurette and they quickly learned about cost, efficiency, labour, supervision and all the key ingredients to be successful namely developing a good reputation and creating a profit.
Over the next number of years Don and Laurette grew the business as well as their family to the point that no job was too big or too small for them to bid and perform. The family increased to five boys and two girls and through the years they all have worked for the family business and so to this day which is an immense achievement which gives Don and Laurette a tremendous amount of satisfaction.
Don worked with almost all of the mechanical shops in and around Regina as well working with Bob Yoneda, Jim Keen, and Reg Briggs, three major mechanical consultants in Regina and some of the founding members of the Regina Chapter of ASHRAE in 1962.
Don Bell joined ASHRAE in 1966 and, along with a group of engineers, mechanical firms, distributors, and factory representatives, met monthly to understand the concerns within the industry and each other and work towards improving specifications and project standards which we all continue to do to this day.
Don never sought to attain office or director positions in ASHRAE, but from 1966 up to his passing in 2015 remained an ASHRAE member and was a strong advocate and supporter of ASHRAE. Don lent a hand and his expertise whenever asked so to do . In 1999 ASHRAE Regina Chapter acknowledged Don's 33 years of membership and work by awarding him a Life Membership in ASHRAE. A recognition certainly weIl deserved.
In addition to his many years in the industry and membership in ASHRAE, Don has been President of the Thermal Insulation Association of Canada for two terms and served for many years on its board of directors. Don was President of the Provincial Insulation Association; Trustee of Employee Pension and Health and Welfare Fund; Past Chair of Construction Labour Relations; and, member of the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board.
When Don started in the insulation business the material of choice was asbestos. (The word "asbestos" is derived from the Greek word "Aminthius" meaning incorruptible. Over the centuries this material has mystified including Ghengis Khan, Marco Polo, and the Dutch who bought Manhattan from the native americans.)
Don worked with asbestos (as well as other insulative materials) up to 1977 when asbestos was banned for insulation purposes. Sadly, three of Dan's employees passed away from asbestos related contact over the years.
After the Federal Government banned asbestos the materials of choice became in most cases glass fibre in many forms along with high density calcium silicate (non asbestos) for high temperative applications. Don has worked with cork material used primarily in breweries and dairies on tanks, and piping and rock wool (mineraI fibre).
Don has worked on projects in Saskatchewan, Alberta, the North West Territories, and Alaska on projects such as schools, Government buildings, hospitals, industrial sites such as refineries, power plants, pulp mills and refineries. One of his largest projects was insulating a storage tank for Imperial Oil in the 1970s: 120' in diameter 60' high with fiberglass with a corrugated aluminum shell.
in the early 1990s, Don tired of having to rent scaffolding for the many projects he was doing (most of the time it had to be brought in from out of province) so Don and family created a division of the company to provide scaffolding for their own projects as well as renting scaffolding to others. This business has also grown and prospered to the point it is an important portion of their business empire.
Besides his fervent love of the business, Don enjoyed fishing in both the summer and the winter. For several years Don hosted a fishing trip to Northern Saskatchewan for a group of insulation industry leaders from across Canada whom he nicknamed the "Swampers".
Don’s business's have grown to the point where four sons, one daughter, one daughter-in-law, and one grandson are with the company, almost an unbelievable family business success story. Don used to joke that he and Laurette call it a family business but they think the Union calls it Nepotism. He also comments that the asbestos product he and others installed for some fourty years will probably take an equal length of time to be replaced by other safer products.
Before passing away on October 29, 2015, he and Laurette maintained an active role in their business as well as their community. Don made significant positive contributions to ASHRAE, the industry, and community. He will be missed.