Major accommodation supplier is cautiously optimistic

Despite the pall commodity prices has lowered on the resource industry, ATCO's Ben Gagne sees reason to be cautiously optimistic.

Gagne, who is ATCO Structures & Logisitcs' general manager out of eastern Canada, says there are some projects that are hopefully coming to fruition in the next quarter. Gagne's company, the largest provider of workforce accommodation to the resource industry, builds the ubiquitous rectangular structures seen at mine and construction sites. ATCO Structures & Logisitcs earned $5 million in the first quarter of this year, while its parent, ATCO Group, had $78 million in earnings, which were largely contributed by its utility business.

Gagne explained why the mining industry is looking brighter from his vantage point.

"I sort of approach it with some tepid enthusiasm from what I can see. We are hopefully going to see a couple of mining projects–predominantly in eastern Canada–that will come to fruition in the next quarter."

ben gagne atco structures and logistics

David Gagne, ATCO Structures & Logisitcs' general manager

Gagne is also working with some miners on some pre-feasibility work, which should help with medium- to long-term.

Oil and gas has taken a downturn, but Gagne says work continues on a lodge for Shell Carmon Creek, which will support a in-situ heavy oil project in the Peace River region. The lodge will have 500 units altogether, including a 200-person open office along with lobby, kitchen, dining and other common areas.

The company also hopes investment decisions will be made soon regarding liquid national gas on the north coast, which should result in more business.

ATCO has branched off from just building structures. It now runs a service business that looks after janitorial, maintenance and catering at its facilities. The request for the business came from clients who were looking for one point of contact instead of dealing with multiple vendors.

"We like to call it 'One throat to choke'", says Gagne.

He describes the business as being "very successful."

A 32-unit administration building the company built for Teck Pogo Inc., 120 kilometres northeast of Delta Junction, Alaska. Project date is 2005.

ATCO has taken on its largest Canadian contract to date: a 2,586-person permanent accommodation at BHP Billiton’s Jansen Potash Project in Saskatchewan.