Canada North Camp – CampCorp: Supporting people in need and providing solutions to Western Canada’s energy sector
By: Mudeeha Yousaf
CampCorp Structures Ltd. – a manufacturer of modular structures for the Oil and Gas industry – is one company that puts compassion and empathy back into business practices. Based in the heart of Alberta’s oil patch, the company aims to build custom made contemporary structures that extend to a wide array of projects. The family-owned and operated business specializes in camp construction, operations, and catering, from providing top of the line services and equipment to meet their customers’ needs.
What started as a small family catering business in 1999 with its sister company, Canada North Camps & DJ Catering, now stands as a leader in entrepreneurial excellence. Paul McCracken, founder and president, grew his vision to begin a company that made a difference in people’s lives and followed this vision with help from with his wife, both former teachers with a knack for spreading education and awareness, and their 3 children. The company began as a full-service hospitality business for many open camp locations in Alberta, as well as contract camps for oilfield agencies, providing everything from project management to sourcing equipment and rentals, catering services and support services.
They then acquired a plant in Slave Lake in 2009 that gave them the capacity to manufacture for themselves.
“We were having a hard time having equipment available for the catering side and getting things built for ourselves [so] we decided to vertically integrate,” said Vice President and owner’s son Travis McCracken. Travis shares his father’s entrepreneurial spirit and has helped in turning a mom-and-pop type company into a soaring enterprise by acquiring another piece of property in Edmonton in 2010. With only expansion and growth on the company’s agenda, they decided to expand to international markets by opening up their “Foxfire” plant in Surprise, Arizona in 2012 – their largest facility to date. Today, the company provides modular and catering services for the oil and gas industry as well as manufacturing equipment for forestry, offices and recreational facilities. Their fully certified business model matches their family charm and local flare and the company is a proud member of M.A.R.S. (Manufacturer’s Association for Relocatable Structures).
Though, the business wears many hats, so to speak, and is heavily involved in community outreach programs as well as holding its place as a thriving corporation. Their philanthropic practices became evident after the recent catastrophic flood that dampened Alberta’s spirit in June. The company sat down with government officials and offered their camp services and powerful resources to aid in the flood relief efforts and try to provide homes to the people that were displaced.
“There were going to be some challenges because the people staying in these camps aren’t oilfield workers and don’t need the conventional types of accommodations that these units are built for,” said Travis. “We tried to come up with innovative ideas to accommodate families while making sure they will be as happy as can be… Building a temporary home and community is what we are trying to do.” Their Great Plains camp in Calgary provides residence for over 1,000 citizens affected by the flood and is a camp that is designed to “look more like a community. We’re trying to pay attention to the details to make it more of a home,” boasts Travis, A practice they would like to pursue in all of their camps.
As well as generously devoting time and man-power to improve the quality of life in the province, CampCorp leads the way in ethical business partnerships with Indigenous Peoples. The company donated a $1.2 million camp to Blue Quills First Nations College (BQFNC). From that donation, BQFNC built industry driven need training to employment camp life program. The camp training readiness program provides mental, emotional, spiritual and physical wellness to students from across northeastern Alberta.
CampCorp replicated the program (through their sister, Tansi Business Development Group) with another of their Indigenous business partners, Bigstone Cree Nation. They built their own unique, CampCorp – Bigstone Cree Nation training to employment camp readiness training program. Students are guaranteed employment with their sister, Canada North Camps. They take pride in the joint venture partnerships they have with Indigenous Nations including Bigstone Cree Nation, Heart Lake First Nation, Blue Quills First Nations College, Primco-Dene and Loon River First Nation. Because of these ethical, 50-50 altruistic practices, the enterprise was nominated for the Aboriginal Relations Best Practices award of distinction.
As well as supporting people in need and becoming a solid rock for many diverse communities, CampCorp also has their own support system intact in shape of corporate support from oil companies. The pillar of their strength, says Travis, is their team of 600 employees that fit into the culture the business is trying to create. They try to hire locally to preserve the Province’s growing economy, and extensively train their employees. The company believes in rewarding hard work and dedication and does so by providing incentives, in the form of relaxation therapies and prizes, to their skilled laborers. “Smaller companies pay attention to detail, bigger companies don’t. Because of this we’ve been successful in retaining good people,” says Travis. “Our own employees are the biggest reason we’ve been successful and have been providing good service.”
As far as expansion is concerned, the company has no plans in slowing down. With 3 diversified companies already under its belt, the private company has only begun its vision of expanding their dream of professionalism in business mixed with a humanizing approach. Travis concludes “[we] have opportunities in the states that we’re considering. We have aspirations to grow in any and all opportunities that come our way.”