Tailored Solution For Workforce Housing Needs
By Anna Guy
Imagine rib eye steaks, a games room, hotel-like suite, laundry taken care of. Now imagine all of that in the bush, 300 kilometers from the nearest town.
No matter how remote the sight, Fireweed Camps is dedicated to providing its clients with the comforts of home. Since
1987, Fireweed Camps has provided support services to remote work sites in the most challenging conditions and locations. Celebrating its 30th year, the team has never been better; improvements in technology—communication technology primarily—has enabled Fireweed Camps to respond to clients’ needs within hours, sometimes setting up complete facilities in 72 hours, as it did in the fire season of 2017, when the RCMP called the team at midnight, requiring a set up for 400 RCMP members in the evacuated town of Williams Lake.
To Jesse and Cody Gidney, President and CEO, respectively, this is nothing unusual.
Fireweed is able to respond to clients so quickly in large part because of its deep roots in the industry. Over its 30 years in business, the team has established relationships with equipment suppliers throughout the west coast, and has prearranged equipment ready for action when the time calls.
“We do a tremendous amount of logistics, piecing the clients needs together, getting the equipment available from suppliers and getting it set up, on a very tight schedule,” says Jesse.
Serving the Energy and Resource Sectors
As the name implies, Fireweed was initially established primarily as a catering supplier for the B.C. Ministry of Forests, who remains a long-term client. Under the Gidney Brothers, Fireweed broadened its scope to workforce destinations in the resource and energy sector. The teams extensive experience in remote areas and tight deadlines is a perfect fit for any industry that needs quality food, comfortable living areas to maintain a happy workforce, and who require a turnkey service in all aspects of lodging, catering and housekeeping. With one phone call, clients’ entire workforce camp is move-in ready, so they can focus on the job at hand.
In 2016, Fireweed brought accommodations specialist, Bob Holowaty, on board, joining Senior Project Manager, William (Bill) Miller as the two senior specialists on the team. With over 20 years of experience as an industry leader in remote workforce housing logistics, Holowaty’s leadership and knowledge have proven vital for numerous high profile and complex temporary accommodation projects including the 2013 Calgary flood disaster relief camp, and the 3000-person facility for the Department of National Defence during the 2010 Olympic Games.
Holowaty says Fireweed’s commitment to quality was a big draw for him joining the team. “I’ve dealt with so many different camps and catering companies over the years, and, generally, the food quality is just not there anymore. So many companies will do “heat and go” and “boil in a bag” menus. There are not may companies left that chef anymore, and these guys, that’s what they do; good quality chefs and cooks, which is what the clients want. They want that quality. We can customize the menu to whatever you want. And if you want a games room? A VIP room? You name it, they provide it.”
First Pac West Partnership
Fireweed recently formed a partnership agreement with First Pac West, a company that prides itself on the “Solace Longhouse System” that they developed. An unparalleled building solution for a variety of applications, including workforce housing for major projects. The components are fully demountable for relocation and reconfiguration. This capability allows industry to reconfigure workforce accommodations to meet other infrastructure requirements as the project transitions through phases. After project completion, the Solace System Longhouse can be repurposed for use by the local community to create recreation centres, medical facilities or schools.
“We are very excited at this newly formed arrangement” says Jesse. “Our vision of Fireweed is to team up with other progressive and innovative companies, and First Pac West offers the most innovative workforce accommodations in the industry.”
Partnerships with First Nations
Fireweed has a long history of working closely with First Nations communities, and has linked itself to employment alongside First Nations throughout Western Canada. The team prioritizes its relationships with the First Nations members, communities, and organizations with which they work. Funding towards youth groups or other organizations within the community and a strong commitment to training, particularly Youth Trades training program are important elements in any working partnership, something the team believes is very important.
“We call this Community Investment,” says Cody. “It is a chance for business partnerships to be established and developed by respecting cultural values which we all share and understand. Our concept is a Shared Value Approach to economic development with First Nation communities, and our goal is to earn and maintain that level of trust with our First Nations partners going forward.”
Whether it is for 20 or over 1000 personnel, Fireweed has the housing option to suit any individual project and workforce requirement, and the experience to execute it quickly. By establishing solid relationships with suppliers, First Nations communities, its clients, and its employees, Fireweed continues to build on its reputation for exceeding clients’ expectations.
Great Workforce Camps equals Happy Employees
“In these remote work destinations, employee retention is Number One,” says Cody. “If our clients’ employees are happy in that camp, and their needs are being met through sleeping amenities, recreation, and then, of course, meals, then that means we are giving them the best return on investment we can.”
A progressive and innovative business with a focus on providing exceptional services, Fireweed maintains a genuine connection to our customers, working directly with each client to provide a tailor-made approach to fulfilling the unique needs of every project. Fireweed is committed to giving you honest and personable service throughout all facets of your project requirements.
“Because we work directly with the client, we really create a tailor-made solution for them,” says Jesse.
“We pride ourselves personal service, and we take time to understand each client’s needs. Taking the time to really understand what they need is the biggest thing in creating satisfaction in what they are getting from us.”