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Compelling Calgarians – Scott Gravelle


He’s been a champion hang-glider, janitor, army medic, unemployed nurse and skateboard manufacturing company owner.

Today, Scott Gravelle, 49, is CEO of Attabotics Inc., a Calgary-based robotics logistics company worth hundreds of millions of dollars that he founded three-and-a-half years ago.

“I am the least qualified person on the planet to do my job; but I am the best person to have my job at the fastest growing tech company in Canada.”

He doesn’t have an MBA, but broad experience — including digital manufacturing — and the ability to “see a great opportunity and think differently about a problem.”

Attabotics began with ants. Gravelle’s “crazy idea” of reconfiguring warehouse space came after watching a documentary about a fire ant colony, which was accessed vertically.

Gravelle and a team of engineers (“Calgary has the most talented group of engineers per capita, they just needed a different purpose than oil and gas”) created a 3-D system of storage replacing rows and aisles of traditional fulfilment centres with robotic shuttles maximizing horizontal and vertical space. Attabotics’ system optimizes warehouse space by 85 per cent and reduces required workforce by 80 per cent.

Gravelle grew up in a trades-centric Edmonton family, fascinated with taking things apart and putting them back together.

“I would read Richie Rich comics. I didn’t want to be Richie Rich — I wanted to be the inventor working for the family.”

A nursing degree followed army service — just as hospitals closed down — followed by home construction and longboard/skateboard manufacturing.

Twelve years ago, he and his then four-year-old daughter went through a tough patch; the Calgary Food Bank and Catholic Family Services helped. Gravelle, 2019 winner of a $10,000 Start-up Canada Ernest C. Manning innovation award, gifted those two organizations with his award.

That caring society is partly why, Gravelle says, his company’s head office — currently in the design stages, but there is no date on construction set at this time — will always be Calgary, despite Attabotics’ international reach.

“I am super proud to be a Calgarian, Albertan, Canadian — and to be a disruptor in a global industry.”


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