Promoting Employee Retention through Innovation

Redrock Camps

Quality of life is often considered in the same context as standard of living; but there is a distinct difference. Standard of living – the level of wealth, material goods or necessities to maintain a certain socioeconomic class – is objective, whereas quality of life – a representation of an individual’s satisfaction – is subjective.

This satisfaction is multi-faceted and takes into consideration not only one’s physical health, but psychological and social wellbeing – a sense of optimism toward future goal setting. Quality of life is indisputably the more essential of the two.

The importance of a good quality of life is something Troy Ferguson, president and CEO of Redrock Camps, knows all about. You could say that Troy is a “been there, done that” type of man. His extensive experience working in remote camps has led to a vision of how things could – and should – be done for the over ninety percent male workforce. It is in pursuit of this goal of attaining both high quality of life and high standard of living for workers that Troy creates an environment that enables his clients to both recruit and retain a much sought-after workforce.

Incorporated in 2006, with over four hundred employees, Redrock Camps is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta with operational facilities in Edmonton and Grande Prairie. The company offers turn-key customized hospitality services (also referred to as the camp and catering industry) to as many as forty remote camps during seasonal peaks. Camps are primarily in the oil and gas sector, but are not limited to such.

“Currently, we operate camps from Manitoba all the way west to the coast of British Columbia,” says Troy. A couple years ago, the company also put a camp on the southern edge of Torngat Mountains National Park – on the northern tip of Labrador. The kANGIDLUASUk research camp involved a partnership between Redrock Camps, Parks Canada and the Labrador Inuit Development Corporation. “The Inuit government was our key client,” he adds.

Recruiting and retaining a workforce in remote camps can be a huge problem for clients. The people of the shadow population, as the “fly-in fly-out” workforce is known, come to work but rarely settle in the northern communities. This creates a problem for clients who require project completion on time and on budget. Much of the problem can be attributed to camp logistics or the lack thereof.

“Now the industry is starting to gain some momentum toward risk management of labour supply,” says Troy. “So the ivory towers, as I like to call them – the energy companies that we deal with – are now recognizing that it’s not just about a clean room and a good meal. It’s about mental comfort of the contractors and employees that work for them with the goal of finishing things on time and on budget… The value of labour is increasing. It’s all about sustaining that human capital to ultimately prove value to companies, such as stock market value.”

Clients want to retain the same people week after week. “That’s where they rely on us to provide a good environment, so those people will continually return and work for the same company, in the same location.”

For most camps in the oil and gas industry, it’s simply a matter of providing the bare essentials: someplace to eat and sleep, in the most cost effective way. Troy realizes that workforce retainment has to go beyond the bare essentials by providing a camp environment that will not only be home for an extended period of time, but also feel like home.

“The camp environment is becoming more important every day.” More than just basic survival, a camp that is a place to regenerate and wake up fresh translates into a more productive and safe workforce. “It’s improved living, but for us it’s improved wellness in remote working environments. We’re trying to help companies sustain their human capital.”

Redrock Camps provide a non-institutional environment, an innovative advantage that has set the company apart from the competition. The company’s welcoming camp environments are designed with comfort in mind and are fashioned after a relaxing cabin feel rather than the traditional institutional modular facilities that abound.

Troy explains that camp manufacturing companies build the camps and Redrock Camps create a design theme filled with comfort and quality. Organic colours, antiques, hardwood-look flooring and warm, bright, non-fluorescent lighting are just some examples of how an atmosphere of relaxation and contentment is achieved.

“A couple of themes we’ve developed already are the antique lodge, and we’re about to receive fifties diners with booths and all,” shares Troy. “We’ve learned that the two ways to reduce anxiety for workers in the middle of nowhere is through visual and physical comfort. That adds up to mental comfort.”

Any successful business will tell you that the number one asset for growth does not entirely rest on the product but also on relationships with clients. Building and managing social capital is not an easy task, so the creation of a relationship action plan is essential. Clients need to know what you can do for them. How will you solve their problems? What sets your company apart from the competition?

“It’s critical,” says Troy of the company’s relationship with clients. “We’re in the business of taking care of people, which is a bit more of an art than a business.” Relationships are paramount in a business where clients need to have confidence that their people are being well looked after and not simply warehoused. “The success of my company has been a result of this change in thinking, because we are a higher end service and equipment provider to our segment.”

Redrock Camps currently serves mid-sized and small camps, but that is about to change in the near future. “We’re about to launch into the large camp world in the next six months. We’re super excited.” Behind the scenes, the company is launching its enterprise resource plan (ERP) to tie the business together and allow for exponential growth. This is critical as its human resource side of the business is one of its major expenses. “We’re positioning ourselves to double our workforce and get the right thoroughbreds into the race.”

“Our business is unique in that we operate forty camps in any given moment, with corporate locations. All of these camps are geographically far apart. Communication is our number one challenge and our greatest resource at the same time.”

What started as a safety tool, Redrock Camps uses E-Colours personality software to understand how others are wired to communicate. The software is also used to categorize personality types so that more effective communication between departments can be achieved. For example, sales personnel communicate differently than accountants and everyone listens and absorbs information differently. E-Colours “is a key indication tool for safety that we’ve integrated into our entire corporate culture. It helps us communicate with one another.”

The aforementioned Labrador kANGIDLUASUk research camp was the greatest challenge to date. “Our drill camps are sturdy and very mobile,” he says. “They called us to design a camp. I think it’s Canada’s first entirely solar powered camp.”

The camp, which utilizes wood pellets as a safe and effective heating source, was also designed to resist two hundred kilometre winds, heavy snow loads and polar bears. The camp was built in Fredericton, New Brunswick, “so we used our ideas and technology from [Alberta] and applied it out there and then we trucked it out to Goose Bay,” explains Troy.

The camp then had to be transported by a barge which was delayed by three weeks due to icebergs. “We hired local Inuit construction workers to do the work. Two seasons later, it was operational. Now it feeds people who are touring in the area, and it services Arctic Research Canada and Parks Canada at the same time.”

Troy asserts that Mother Nature will always present a challenge operationally, “so we need to understand what she’s going to throw at us before we even start … we never want to commit to a project that we can’t deliver on.”

All indications are that Redrock Camps is on a proven course of growth and success. The company has already established itself to be a remote camps hospitality leader. “We want to be known as the company that does things right,” concludes Troy. “We are leading remote hospitality in a way that nobody’s ever done before. It’s truly taking care of the people who are out there, building capacity for us as Canadians. My vision is to be the leader in people waking up fresh in the middle of nowhere.”

For more information about Redrock Camps, please visit

June 22, 2018, 6:42 PM EDT

A Proactive Approach to Resolving a Longstanding Debate

About forty skilled Central and South American workers from Ecuador, Peru, Columbia and Costa Rica came to British Columbia, Canada as temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in 2006. This story incited Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) call for reforms to Canada’s TFW program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP). LiUNA, a powerful voice within the construction industry with over half a million members – 110,000 of whom are in Canada – has been the only Canadian union to address the issue.