Building ‘Home’ in the Middle of Nowhere
How do you make a worker whose job takes place in the middle of nowhere feel at home when on the job? It’s not easy, but Redrock Camps has cracked the code. The remote logistics company based out of Calgary, Alberta takes care of employees working within hard industries such as oil and gas, energy, and mining during their time in the Canadian wilderness.
Redrock’s modular accommodations are unlike anything else other companies are providing in the industry.
“It’s all about providing an experience for guests,” said Troy Ferguson, President and CEO of Redrock Camps. “Our competitors build sterile environments—white walls, too-bright lights that feel like a hospital. But we focus on the emotional side—providing a home away from home for the workers who have to be away from family and friends for any length of time.”
Ferguson graduated university with a degree in social geography and a minor in business administration, which provided him with the perfect set of skills for Redrock Camps, although he didn’t know it at the time. The degree came with an understanding about why people live where they live, which has provided him with a compass for guiding his company and its mission.
Redrock works with each client to customize their camp of modular accommodations, with the client providing the site and Redrock providing what is needed for the temporary camp. Redrock is also responsible for the logistics of getting the materials where they need to go; before now, installation companies built the camp.
And even though it’s temporary and considered a camp, it operates more like a hotel.
“We like to ‘man-cave’ it up a bit,” Ferguson shared. “We take what our manufacturers create and customize it to bring a sense of home. This could mean anything from a ’50s-style diner theme for the eating quarters to a game room with fun activities like pool and foosball for downtime.”
Setting up Camp
Camps that Redrock provides could be set up for 90 days or five years, and once the camp is leased and set up it’s essentially the client’s.
“Our first job and our main job is listening to the client and what they really want. People who hire and pay us never actually sleep in the camps, so their objectives are very different from the people who are actually in the camps every day. We have to take into account the financial concerns of the leaders, as much as we consider the needs and wants of the people who are actually using these facilities.”
– Troy Ferguson, President and CEO
Since the inception of the company, Ferguson and his team have developed a strategy that shows the decision-making clients, that what some consider the “extras” are actually central to productivity. In short, if a company’s employees are comfortable in their downtime, they will be productive on the job.
The timeframe of setting up the camp depends on how big it is. Some are engineered to sleep 50 people and can be set up in a day. Other times, large complexes that include sleeping quarters for 200, common areas, and a kitchen area will typically take much longer to set up: around three weeks from start to finish.
Managing Rapid Growth
Redrock Camps, though only established a decade ago, is already a high-growth company. Originally, Ferguson and his business partner relied on available human capital that was already in the industry, and didn’t spend much in terms of HR in the early days. But the pool of qualified candidates began to get smaller.
As the operation evolved into the high-growth entity it is today, Redrock and Ferguson had to change strategy. Now, he doesn’t just look for the best trained or most skillful person for the job; instead, as long as the person has the right character and personality to fit Redrock’s company culture, they are considered for the position. After all, the skills needed to do the job can be taught.
Another way the company is managing its growth—and creating great opportunities for its future—is through the recent acquisition of Sockeye Enterprises, a modular installation company. Previous to the acquisition, Redrock Camps was outsourcing the installation of its camps, but now the company can provide an “easy button” for its clients by having the same supplier of installation services, now just at a reduced cost.
“Camp companies like us don’t usually own installation companies, but it became more of a question of ‘why not?’ rather than ‘why?’” Ferguson said. “It’s going great—our two companies have the same core values, and Sockeye has a great culture and great people, which makes the integration process into our business easy. Often, culture can be the greatest challenge with acquisitions, but we haven’t found that with Sockeye.”
Awards and Recognition
Recently both the company and Ferguson have been up for impressive industry and leadership awards. The company earned the Workforce Housing Provider of the Year from the Oil &Gas Awards. Ferguson attributes the win to focusing on the company’s quality versus quantity approach to doing business. He acknowledged that “the equipment is only one part, taking care of people is the bigger focus.”
Ferguson himself is a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award in the Energy Services division of the Prairies region of Canada. When asked what he thought stood out to EY for the nomination, Ferguson credited the uniqueness of what Redrock Camps is doing, noting that the company is “adding some color to the industry.”
“We’re a remote logistics company that just happens to do camps today,” Ferguson said. “In the future I see us continuing with our foundation of providing services to people and companies in the middle of nowhere, but there’s so much more we can do.”
Yes, Ferguson is hoping—and planning—for revenue growth but he thinks Redrock Camps can also be an asset to the community in the region.
“We’re good at getting things done in remote locations, and I’d really like to see us help with the planning and building on the first nation community reserves,” he concluded.
Privately owned and operated, Redrock Camps is a Canadian company headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, with operational facilities located in Grande Prairie and Edmonton. We design and operate mid-sized camps across western Canada, providing turn-key workforce hospitality solutions for industries operating in remote areas. We would be pleased to provide you with a quote.