A Decade of Proven Success

Birch Mountain Enterprises
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Birch Mountain Enterprises Ltd. (BMEL) began as a heavy duty mechanical company serving the oil sands industry, eventually growing their capacities, adding welding to their repertoire, and entering the saturated trade markets of the oil sands.
The company has adapted to meet industry demands, evolving into an industry leading oilfield services provider and carving out a niche in the industry, poising the company for continued growth and success.

Celebrating their tenth anniversary this year, Birch Mountain Enterprises Ltd. is Aboriginal-owned and operates locally, primarily serving the Fort McMurray oil sands operations. BMEL provides diverse services to almost all major companies in the oil sands, from construction to production, utilizing the latest and greatest industry technology. BMEL has the capacity to service fly-in, fly-out locations, including very remote and difficult to access areas.

Full members of the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA), Birch Mountain Enterprises is a COR certified company that makes all efforts to ensure that they are compliant with all industry standards. BMEL has established themselves in the oil sands, showing proof of their safety, quality and dependability in their work as reliable fluid handling and steaming specialists.

Winners of the RARA (Regional Aboriginal Recognition Award) 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year, Birch Mountain Enterprises Ltd. has been recognized for the positive contributions they have made to their community. BMEL’s Aboriginal employment rate is 58 percent and ever-growing. They ensure that Aboriginal-owned contractors are used, when available, and give back to the community, supporting community events, fundraisers, programs, employees and businesses.

In the beginning
Birch Mountain Enterprises Ltd. has grown from humble roots to become a major player in the oil field service industry. Co-founded by brothers Chris and Lee Wilson with good friend and welder, Ivan Boucher, each of the Owner/Directors brings a unique quality to the business. What started as a one truck business in 2005 has quickly grown to a fleet of over 100 heavy-duty trucks and a staff of over 200 operators, offering a number of services with additional growth on the horizon.

Born, raised and still residing in Fort McKay, which is located 40 minutes north of Fort McMurray, the Wilsons and Boucher left promising, lengthy careers at Syncrude to undertake this venture. Using their connections in Fort McKay and surrounding areas, the trio is never idle and is always looking for new ways to grow, securing new opportunities for their company and their community.

Having met and exceeded their expectations for success, the combination of their experience, skills and connections have allowed them to build a promising future by securing big name contracts and delivering results. From cold-calling companies to raise more business in the early days, to planning for and responding quickly and efficiently to on-call work, to ensuring work-site visits are made and safety is maintained in their operations, BMEL has built a reputation for quality and dependability.

Building capacity and harnessing growth
The management team at Birch Mountain Enterprises Ltd. knows the region and the industry inside and out, and has significantly expanded its capacity to service the oil fields over the last decade, enjoying an annual growth rate of 20 percent. Though it has grown, the business has retained a family oriented feel where everyone knows one another by first name. With two offices now, the company has been working to establish their head office while working on three major oil field sites.

The company started with one mechanical truck and grew with demand. In 2006, BMEL purchased a steam truck to support the trade services being offered. The steam services were in such high demand that it warranted the addition of more trucks and more employees, jobs that require minimal skills and training. With the addition of steam trucks, the company also added water and vacuum trucks, growing their fleet, creating networks and capitalizing on a niche in the industry.

By constantly growing their resources to be able to mobilize quickly and meet increases in demand, BMEL continues to expand their technology, fleet, staff and reputation. Retaining qualified staff has been challenging as the oil sands industry is highly competitive; contractors are quick to offer up jobs to individuals who stand out and provide quality output, getting the job done right, the first time – a testament to the employees BMEL hires.

Indeed, the team has the capacity to complete projects ranging from small to large, and is prepared to service the oil fields and related industries with services including: hydro-vac (pipeline and utilities exposures, trenching), vacuum (waste, sewage and water removal and disposal), semi-vac (large-volume hauling and disposal, includes waste and hazardous materials), potable water, raw water, high pressure steam (cleaning and thawing uses), combo-vac (cleaning and maintenance), fuel and equipment rentals.

With its strong commitment to safety and quality, BMEL has a team of Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) professionals committed to training at all levels of the business and providing corporate support where necessary. As previously mentioned, BMEL is COR certified and maintains excellent safety records, complying with all industry prequalification standards.

Investing in communities
Birch Mountain Enterprises Ltd., understanding the importance of community, ensures that it contributes not only to the wellbeing of its workers, but also to the broader community. The company has been recognized as the RARA 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year in this capacity, boasting a 58 percent and rising rate of Aboriginal employment, investing in Aboriginal programs and supporting Aboriginal businesses.

The company has included this investment in community in their mandate as they are committed to supporting children in Aboriginal programs in the areas of childcare, sports, education and traditional activities. The BMEL team also supports a number of community events and fundraisers. Their support has been highly regarded, improving the ability for The Fort McKay Wellness Centre to increase the program offerings to Fort McKay youth, inspiring them in the process.

Employees themselves rate BMEL the best employer in Fort McMurray, giving credit to the accessibility, organization and commitment of the management team. As well, employees are appreciative for the dedication to safety, the quality working environment and compensation, and above all else the company’s investment in training, professional development and advancement opportunities that are made available to employees after six months.

Birch Mountain Enterprises Ltd.’s committed and dedicated staff and management have created an environment which fosters quality output and excellence in performance. Founded upon smart decisions by the management team, BMEL has built a significant capacity, satisfying demand and becoming a proven and dependable fluid handling, steaming and oilfield services specialist in the Fort McMurray area.

In the sense of good leadership, BMEL’s dedication extends beyond the oil sands and the company’s economic success to ensure that their communities have the opportunity to grow alongside the business. Experiencing growth and success beyond their expectations, it is amazing to see what hard work and vision can achieve, as proven by this trio of family and friends and the enterprise and reputation they have collectively established in terms of quality, safety, and reliability in a competitive industry.



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