KAMLOOPS — The local manufacturing company in charge of building 104 modular units for the City of Kamloops has rebounded after being caught in the middle of a major downturn in the oil and gas sector two years ago.
Horizon North had to lay off more than a 100 workers in early 2016. Since, the Kamloops-based company has diversified and rebounded as a result.
"The ability for us to pivot from being purely beholden to one sector of the economy to being able to be part of the solution for an issue that, quite frankly, pervades our whole society is something I believe will provide longevity to employment here in this plant," said President and CEO Rod Graham.
Horizon North has been building modular units consistently since being awarded a contract to build up to 600 modular homes for the City of Vancouver.
The company also builds modular units for hotels and condos, and is now up to B.C. 300 employees
"Over the course of the last 12 months, we've actually doubled our headcount and right across the spectrum, including engineering and quality assurance and skilled trades, labourers and truck drivers," Graham said.
Manufacturing could grow from here with the NDP government promising 2,000 modular affordable units.
"Modular housing is very quick to build and it's very easy to put in," said Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson, who was in Kamloops on Wednesday to announce funding for 104 modular units. "It was really important to have a quick response after years of neglect. We wanted to make sure we could get things on the ground ASAP."
Horizon North noted it takes 17 days to build one modular unit at $140,000. Graham said it's been a great partnership between Horizon North and the province.
"BC Housing has been extraordinarily supportive in pushing forward here. They have supported us," he noted. "They see what we see in terms of opportunity for becoming part of the solution for homelessness in this province. We certainly believe modular is a considerable tool to be used for time-expediency, for quality, and for cost-certainty."
While the company still is providing trailers for oil and gas camps up north, construction is now spread across many different sectors.
"We would be spread as far north as Baffin Island, across to Cambridge Bay, throughout the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, the Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan," said Graham. "Certainly a diversity of markets now for potash, hard rock mining, soft rock mining, as well as conventional oil and gas and oil sands."
After finishing construction of the modular units for Vancouver, Horizon North will switch its focus to the 104 affordable units for Kamloops, two projects on the North and South Shores that are expected to be completed by the fall.
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