Modular building manufacturer Britco is reporting that despite general economic conditions, the company is continuing to grow, including adding 37 people to the workforce at their Penticton plant.
All together, Britco said that last year, they created 77 new jobs in B.C. at their Penticton and Agassiz plants as well as adding over 150 employees outside of the province.
The job growth coincides with two recent acquisitions made by Britco. In February, Britco acquired a production plant in Edmonton and, in fall of 2011, purchased a large manufacturing facility in Waco, Tex.
The plant in Texas, which had been idle for three years before Britco purchased it last September, now has 80 employees.
“The energy and mining activity in B.C.’s north and in Alberta is driving our expansion and allowing us to hire more people locally,” said Britco president Mike Ridley, who expects 2012 to be another strong year and estimates that their B.C.-based workforce will grow by another 20 per cent.
Executive vice-president Chris Gardner said that not only did the current economic climate make it an ideal time to get into that market by purchasing the bankrupt Waco facility, but Britco was able to capitalize on existing customer relationships.
“Our customers in that area are involved in the energy sector and some of them are customers that we have relationships with, developed in Alberta and B.C.,” said Gardner. “For us, it was a great opportunity and an extension of our platform.”
Another factor in Britco’s ongoing growth is the largest project in its 35-year history, a $50 million workforce housing project underway at both their Penticton and Agassiz plants. Britco is providing 880 rooms for a large energy company in Alberta, 200 square-foot executive style accommodations that have private washrooms, flat screen TVs and high-end hotel quality finishes.
Gardner said manufacturing the high-end units is not new territory for Britco. They were official suppliers for the 2010 Olympics, building an Olympic lodge and townhouse complex in the Athletes’ Village.
“And we have done seniors’ accommodation for B.C. housing, a number of social housing facilities, and all of that is permanent and of good quality,” he said.
The change, Gardner said, is coming from the customers, who are upgrading the level of workforce housing provided in the oil sands, driven by the challenge of finding and keeping labour.
“They are providing accommodations that continue to improve in quality,” said Gardner. “We’re providing the rooms, but we’re connecting into a permanent core with 10 dorm wings. The core is going to have a gymnasium, a theatre, a full commercial kitchen and cafeteria dining hall, a recreation room, all kinds of amenities that are going to make the workers feel that they are in a home away from home, that they are not in a remote area with nothing to do.”