As the economic opportunity from proposed major projects in mining, energy, transportation and construction in the region grows, local businesses need to be prepared to engage in the industrial supply chain supporting these projects.
A challenge small businesses in non-metropolitan centres face is how to gain the attention of major projects and to have the correct qualifications to compete. Unless businesses have the necessary tools, certifications, systems and qualified human resources to manage growth, B.C. businesses risk losing out to competitors.
Programs such as the Competitiveness Consulting Rebate act as a stimulus for businesses to invest in best practices that improve their productivity, enhance their competitive edge, and enables them to identify and pursue new opportunities for stimulating economic growth and job creation within the region.
Quesnel business, All-West Crane & Rigging Ltd., has been ranked No. 112 on the 28th annual Profit 500 list, the definitive ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. Profit 500 ranks Canadian businesses by their five-year revenue growth. Over the past five years, All-West has demonstrated a 625% growth in revenue.
“Companies become a part of the PROFIT 500 through innovative thinking, smart strategy and sheer grit,” says James Cowan, Editor-in-chief of PROFIT and Canadian Business. “These firms demonstrate what Canadian entrepreneurs can achieve, both at home and across the globe.”
All-West has accessed funding through the Competitiveness Consulting Rebate since 2014. To date, the Trust has disbursed $21,825 to support projects ranging from strategic planning, to health and safety certifications to a hangar feasibility study.
“Before, our health and safety manual was missing key components and were not able to meet the requirements of the British Columbia Construction Safety Alliance certificate of recognition (COR). Obtaining this certification has enabled us to not only be a safer and more professional organisation, but better equipped to take on new challenges,” says President and CEO Jerry van Halderen. “Having COR also enables us to be added to Tender/bid lists of larger companies as well as compliance management sites in all sectors, including Mining, Oil & Gas Industrial & construction. Our Profit 500 ranking is a testament to our commitment to excellence. We could not have been this successful without the support of Northern Development and the Competitiveness Consulting Rebate.“
A Prince George business networking group has helped a local drilling company improve its bottom line and expand its footprint into the Lower Mainland.
Geotech Drilling, headquartered in Prince George, specializes in geotechnical, environmental, geothermal and exploration drilling. Over the past 20 years, the company’s focus on continuous improvement and growth has made Geotech Drilling an industry leader.
In 2013, Jason Oliver, Geotech vice president, joined the Manufacturer’s Executive Council (MEC), a senior executive peer mentoring group led by a facilitator from Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. Northern Development’s Competitiveness Consulting Rebate program has helped offset the costs of the MEC program for Geotech Drilling and seven other local industry players, allowing them to more easily access the resources and expertise that MEC offers in order to help their businesses grow.
Four years later, Oliver remains in the MEC group, which meets on a monthly basis in Prince George to discuss challenges and opportunities within their businesses, market conditions, business intelligence and taps into the collective knowledge of seasoned, like-minded business owners and leaders.
“While the networking is valuable, the greatest benefit from the group is the sector intelligence from [complementary but non-competing] businesses that helps you capitalize on emerging opportunities and better defines your market position,” said Oliver. “It was just such strategic intelligence that prompted Geotech to make the investment and open an office in Vancouver this year. “The company is committed to growth, downsizing is not an option,” stated Oliver.
Although Geotech employs more than 200 staff and works on projects around the world, its roots are here in B.C. It made sense to expand their market reach into Vancouver, where infrastructure and commercial projects are abundant and it provides visibility to the more than 600 mining companies that call Vancouver home. Oliver said his company has had a lot of experience with public sector funding programs, but Northern Development’s Competitiveness Consulting Rebate is one of the best he’s seen and it has really helped Geotech.
“We joined MEC for the networking, but the financial contribution from Northern Development through the Competitiveness Consulting program has been the value-add for Geotech. Northern Development is an organization whose legitimate purpose is to help well-managed companies do better. That is rare. Geotech has also accessed the Competitiveness Consulting rebate to optimize their health and safety program thorough on-line reporting. “The 50% rebate was the tipping point for Geotech to make the investment. Many funding programs create such an administrative challenge that they are not worth the effort. We recommend Northern Development programs to other northern businesses that are trying to do better.”
The Trust is currently soliciting interest from business owners in Northeast B.C. to form a MEC in Fort St. John.
Getumdone Contracting is living up to its name and building First Nations business success through safety, collaboration and cultural understanding in northern B.C. The Aboriginal-owned, Houston, B.C.-based company supplies field crews to industrial projects in northern B.C. Not long ago, Getumdone’s owner Layne Boucher knew that if he wanted to help his company grow and give back to the community he would need to meet certain industry – required health and safety standards to become a prime contractor for the TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink project.
“The planning for the Coastal GasLink pipeline was well underway, and we needed to be able to get to the table to provide input about the local impact to the territory and ensure that First Nations were also benefitting from the development,” said Boucher. The first step to achieving prime contractor status was to upgrade the company’s existing health and safety program (SEBASE) to meet the rigorous industry requirements of ISNetworld certification. Getumdone Contracting the reached out to the Trust, knowing that the Competitiveness Consulting Rebate could help them offset the costs of hiring a first-rate consultant to help them achieve improved health and safety standards. Approximately 30% of CCR projects have supported health and safety program development and registration on vendor pre-qualifications systems.
“The [Northern Development] application was user-friendly and made it easy to take advantage of the opportunity,” said Getumdone co-owner Chrisann Boucher. Local First Nations employment was a key priority for Getumdone, and the company soon saw results after achieving ISNetworld certification. The company has successfully focused on creating employment opportunities for oft-overlooked demographics, which include workers under 25 years of age and over 65.
Today, Getumdone is one of TransCanada’s prime contractors in the area for the Coastal GasLink project, which has allowed the company to establish a unique working relationship as a known and successful First Nations employer.
Getumdone collaborates with the TransCanada team on the “iTOK” program that supports intergenerational transfer of knowledge between youth and elders through traditional activities such as songs and storytelling while combining work training and mentorship.
Industry representatives may accompany Getumdone into the traditional Wet’suwet’en territory to understand how their proposed project will impact the region and its people.
“Our collaboration has paid huge dividends through on-the-ground education of our youth and engaged industry decision makers. As a result [Coastal GasLink] has truly recognized the importance of protecting cultural heritage by looking for alternate, less impactful routes for the proposed pipeline,” explained Layne.
Good work comes with deserving recognition so it is no surprise that Getumdone Contracting Ltd. has been awarded 2016 Aboriginal Business of the Year (10 or more person enterprise) by the British Columbia Achievement Foundation. Layne and Chrisann are humble yet proud of they what they have achievements. Layne comments, “The future is full of opportunity. We now have experience and the tools for success.”
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