Get to know the team: Nigel Spilman, President of First Call Energy

Get to know the team: Nigel Spilman, President of First Call Energy

This is the third instalment of our “Get To know The Team” series. In part one, we interviewed CJ Lefebvre, Managing Partner, which you can read here. In part two, we interviewed Richard Jackson, BC Operations Manager, which you can read here.

Q: Could you give a brief introduction to yourself and your role at First Call Energy?

My name is Nigel Spilman and I am the President of First Call Energy. We have offices in Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver and we provide Hydrovac services.

Q: How long have you been in the industry?

I started in this industry in 2009 after 9 years in the heavy equipment industry, and 16 years in the HVAC industry.

Q: What first attracted you to the industry?

What drew me into the Hydrovac world were the endless opportunities that presented themselves. Hydrovac is a safety requirement for every industry. Whether it’s Civil construction, Environmental, Oil and Gas Facilities and Pipelines, Utilities, or anywhere else the ground is disturbed, Hydrovac is essential to protecting people, infrastructure, and the environment.

Q: What do you love about working with construction companies in Western Canada?

Over the past 16 years I have had the privilege of working closely with many companies in many different industry sectors. These people are responsible for building the infrastructures that surround us. Many have run into tough times with the last two downturns in the economy however they are resilient and continue to provide us with top notch results on every project they take on.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting out in the industry, what would it be?

Be customer orientated, be safety orientated, be ethical, and don’t take shortcuts.

Q: How is First Call Energy capitalizing on its success in Edmonton and Vancouver construction?

We have a simple system. We strive to be the safest company in the industry. Our commitment is to treat our customers properly and will always go the extra mile to make our customers happy. We strive to provide a quality service at a competitive rate.

Q: What are you hoping to achieve in the next 5 years with FCE? At FCE we have some lofty ambitions for growth.

Having said that, we will grow our customer base one customer at a time, and one truck at a time. We will grow where our customers need us.

Q: What do you think is the biggest factor in keeping the men and women who work with FCE safe while on the job?

Reducing turnover of your employees is key in providing a quality service. Employees must be properly trained for the task at hand. We feel our Employees are treated like part of our team and receive competitive wages and benefits so they can provide for their families. Our employees are our most important resource and asset. We must keep them busy and happy.

Q: What's your favourite thing about working with the men and women of FCE?

As a recent addition to this company I can say that I have felt welcomed and treated as part of the team. Good people make work fun. In my short time at FCE I can say these are people I can grow with.

Q: What has been the most challenging part about running a company like FCE

Challenges are a part of running any business. However, we are a safety company primarily. We are called to make a situation safe or reduce the potential for an incident. As such, we must show up to work with the best operators, best trucks, best safety record and culture, and best customer service effort compared to our competition. This is a pretty old school approach but one that is time tested and true.

9 Things First call Energy LOVES About Construction!

Despite the economic downturn, construction remains a vital part of the economy in British Columbia and Alberta, with no shortage of reasons to express our support for an industry that literally puts the clothes on our back. So without further ado, these are the 9 things we love about our trade:

The people
The construction field is a fluid industry. It’s a fun place to work at, and it’s teeming with awesome people to be around. The vast network and the quality of connections you can get within the industry are endless. Seeing committed people being passionate about their work and bringing to life incredible projects, effectively makes the rest of the people get motivated. If you’re in the construction industry, you are driven by the many inspirational people who share a vision of the industry and who are driven to take people along with them.

Every project is different
Unlike some other sectors that lead you to an overwhelming routine, working in the construction arena helps you deal with a healthy dose of variation. You get to see new people and new projects while visiting different parts of the country. Most importantly, every new project you take on keeps you challenged and helps you grow.

Transformational impact
Being in the construction industry is a rewarding experience. Seeing your finished projects brings you a sense of pride and accomplishment. It’s both a transformational experience of yourself and the surrounding community. 

The scale
Sky is indeed the limit in the construction field. Being able to decide on the details helps you get creative in maximizing the scale.

The people in the construction industry don’t just work to get paid. The dedicated men and women in the industry make clients’ business their business. We have a sense of ownership in dealing with each project, and this leads to wonderful results.

Seeing your work come to life
Nothing is more fulfilling than actually seeing your work come to life. Seeing a project’s progress from concept to completion is beyond rewarding.

It’s tangible
Whether you build something, design it, negotiate the contracts for, it’s physically there and people will use and see it everyday—be it homes, offices, railways, power stations, etc. Construction affects people’s lives everyday in a very physical way.

Working with clients, project managers, contractors and design teams at the same time is a very unique experience. As a project reaches its completion, everyone feels the same kind of pride and shares the same level of victory.

The future
The best thing about construction is its future. Technology is moving by leaps and bounds and is constantly on the upsurge. Imagining the possibilities, the things people can do, the technology being created, and what all that brings about is staggering.

Women in Trades – Fast Facts

You might have seen in the news recently that a group of women had graduated from the Women Building Futures (WBF) iron workers training program and have recently entered the workforce at the North West Redwater Partnership. In honour of their accomplishment, we wanted to give you some fast facts about women in trades or non-traditional occupations in Alberta, Canada, and North America!

The WBF increased the number of ironworkers in Alberta by 13% in a single class.

There were a total of 1665 ironworker apprentices registered in Alberta in 2015. Out of this total there were only 84 women.

Men accounted for 93.4 per cent of all trades workers in 2011, with this proportion not having changed materially over the past two decades.

The average wage for a woman working in the service sector is 20 to 30 per cent lower than it would be in a skilled trade. 

The number of women as registered apprenticeships in Canada tripled between 1996 and 2007. 

The total employment of women in the construction industry is about 13%. 

The top 10 male dominated occupations are all skilled trades.

Barbara Res was one of the very first women to manage a construction project. This is her on a Trump construction site in 1980.

In the past 5 years, there have been more than 12,000 women added to Alberta construction.

In North America, women comprise of 47% of workers in all occupations, but are only 2.6% of construction workers, and that statistic hasn’t changed in the last 30 years.

By 2020, it is estimated by Skills Canada that there will be a need of at least one million skilled trade workers. Women are a vastly underutilizes labour pool that could be the answer! Let us know what you think on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIN. 

Construction is #1 in employee happiness & satisfaction, according to survey.

A full-time working adult spends about half their life at their place of employment, so loving the career path you chose as your own is paramount to feeling satisfied and happy with your life. Everyone is different, and some people are content sitting in a cubicle for 8 hours of the day, toiling over data, spreadsheets, and paper, and some people are happy working with their hands, being a part of something greater than themselves, and seeing the fruits of their labour first hand. 

But who is truly the happiest at their job? If you were to ask most people, we doubt that their first impulse would be to pick construction. But according to a recent survey by TINYpulse, who surveyed more than 500 organizations, 300K employees, and 12 distinct industries, that’s exactly what came out on top. 

Here’s the full list: 

What were the two major factors that led to employees self-reporting themselves as the happiest industry?

They found two major drivers:

1. Satisfaction with colleagues
2. Satisfaction with the nature of one’s job and projects

Let’s start with #1. As we’ve mentioned in the past we work with a fantastic group of people at First Call Energy, because we believe that our employees are our #1 resource. If our employees are happy, our clients are happy, and everyone wins. 

But beyond that, the men and women in construction are generally very supportive of one another. They are known for their after work, bonding activities. When you kick back for a beer (or 5) with you co-workers, you’ll find you enjoy being around them more on a day-to-day basis.

Jay Walter, who was featured in the report and is a General Manager of an Australian home-building company, reflected on what makes the construction industry unique: “This is an industry that has many walks of life with people working in an office to people out on site. One thing that unites everybody at the end of the day is kicking back for a little bit with a few beers and talking stuff out—the good and the bad. If people have an issue, they will come see a manager during office hours, but sometimes the best environment is when people can relax a bit and just have a drink alongside a manager.” 

For number two, we’ve all known employees like this. A new hire, who seemed great for the job, came on and realized that they hate the day-to-day activities that go on. They’re too new to know what they love to do and what they hate, so they’re surprised when they actually get on the job site.

With construction, the respondents revealed that hidden surprises in the construction industry were rare. That you, generally, knew what type of job you were signing up for. 

All in all, this is good news, since Alberta’s construction industry is the #1 employer of Albertans, which may translate into being one of the happiest provinces in Canada.

Have a comment? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. 

Communication is Key: Tips For Talking To Your Team


At First Call Energy, one of our greatest assets are our employees. We believe that focusing on your employees will have positive benefits all through out your company and with your interactions with your clients. 

One of our clients, Brand Energy Solutions, had this to day about us: “There is no company in the industry more competitive and invested in your projects than First Call, thank you.”

That is because our communication lines are always open, from top to the bottom of our company. We know the value of effective communication. Here are a few tips to improving your company’s communication:

1. Think before taking action
In the heat of the moment, you may want to act on instinct or emotion, but consider all your emotions, and try your best to proceed rationally and objectively. When you think clearly, you better communicate your ideas and everyone around you will take them more seriously if they come from a place of objectivity rather than emotion.

2. Know the whole story

Before you react, find out the whole story, whether it’s data, the other side, or an explanation of what is happening. Simply put, talk it out, and find out what there is to know. 

3. Be diplomatic

When you respond to a conflict, whether it’s minor or large, approach it with an open, objective mind that doesn’t take sides nor involves personal attacks. 

4. Give feedback! 

Whether good or bad, feedback is always appreciated. No one wants to feel like they’re working in a vacuum. When you do give feedback, be as specific, clear, and detailed as you possibly can, while also offering solutions to any negative situations, or ways to capitalize on any successes. 

5. Treat your employees

Research shows that one of the most motivating things you can do for your employees is to compensate them with material items. (Big surprise!) However, this doesn’t have to come in the form of salary or money (though it doesn’t hurt). Simply giving them some time off, stock options, bringing them Tim Hortons in the morning, or buying them a beer at night, can help boost morale, togetherness, company culture, and employee satisfaction. 

6. Trust your staff

One of the surest ways to improve your communication is to simply have your employees trust you, or you trust them, so that they feel like they can confide in you when and if things go wrong (or right). You hired them for a reason, so trust them to do the job correctly, and they’ll trust you enough to tell you when they can’t. 

7. Make employees feel like their opinions matter

In most jobs, the employees or your staff are the ones that are in the field doing the work. Most of the time they have great insight into how to improve your processes or work. Listen to them and make them feel like one of the owners by implementing their ideas.

8. Listen!

Don’t just hear your employees, but actually listen to what they’re saying. If they always feel like what they’re telling you is going in one ear and out the other, they’ll stop communicating their issues to you. 

9. Make it fun

Work shouldn’t have to be all work. Many studies have shown that increasing the “fun” time spent at work actually improves the “work” time spent at work. Beyond that, having fun at work improves your employee culture and company loyalty, which brings everyone closer together, and improves communication between your team.

Have any tips for improving your company’s communication that we missed? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIN!

John Rose: Economic Update of Edmonton

Every month, John Rose, the Chief Economist of financial strategies and budget in Edmonton, releases the economic outlook of the City of Edmonton. 

The report addresses the short and long term prospects of Edmonton’s economy. It’s an excellent resource for staying up to date with the economic development of Edmonton. You can subscribe to their newsletter HERE

The three topics they covered in their most recent edition included employment, housing starts, and inflation. 

Here’s the short form of what they had to say: 

Despite the year to date growth rate sitting at 2.4%, there was a drop in employment in June and 9,500 jobs were cut, with a decrease in manufacturing, construction and energy outpacing the increase in financial services, business, and hospitality. The losses were almost entirely in part-time work, with full-time work actually seeing a net increase. Weekly earnings continued to move up, with the annual growth rate now sitting at 2.1%. 

Canada’s employment rate grew .6% and Alberta dropped 2.2%. Compared to these numbers, Edmonton is doing quite well for the year.

Click here for the full report.

The second economic quarter in Edmonton was the first to show an actual increase in housing starts, after four consecutive housing start decreases. 

There were a total of 1954 units started in quarter two, an increase from 1463 starts in quarter one. Compared to last year’s number of 2980, however, this was a 34% decrease in housing starts. 

Click here for the full report.

The inflation rate in Edmonton for the second quarter was unchanged, sitting at 1.6%. This is .4% more than Calgary’s current rate of inflation. 

The rate of inflation in Alberta was down from 1.5% in May to 1.3% in June. The seasonal increase in gas prices was offset by a decrease in accommodation, food, and clothing prices.

Click here for the full report.

All in all, Edmonton seems to be a bastion of strength in the Alberta economy! 

The Regions That First Call Energy Can Service

After noticing a gap in customer service, equipment, and value in the hydrovac and fluid management services in Edmonton, First Call Energy began as a company servicing just that area. However, through years of offering an exceptional product, great value, and customer service, we’ve expanded into the rest of Alberta, serving hotspots like Calgary, Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Fort Saskatchewan, and all of Alberta.

This is despite an economy in Alberta that is still struggling to recover from an excess in global oil supply, instability in the securities market, tensions in Europe and the middle east, and BREXIT. It shows how a company that adapts to a new industry normal, and puts their customers first, is able to survive in an increasingly competitive market. According to ATB financial’s second quarter economic outlook, Alberta will end the year with a negative 1.3 per cent GDP growth rate (but see growth in 2017). However, as oil seems to be increasing (slowly, but still increasing), estimated to increase to somewhere around $50-60 on the global market by the end of the year, we’re looking forward to the activity that will come when Alberta is again the economic powerhouse it once was.

With that said, we have even more exciting news to share with you all! From the hard work of everyone on our team, we’re now able to service your hydrovac and fluid management requests in the Greater Vancouver area, and almost all of British Columbia. We’re excited about this new growth opportunity, and the new connections and partnerships that will develop from it.

If you know anyone in the Greater Vancouver area who could use our services, please contact Shane Lindsay, our Western Canadian sales manager, at 780-667-5600 or contact us here.

Why Learning a Trade is Important to Our Youth

For generations, parents have encouraged their children to go to college, get a stable job, start a family, and save for retirement. However, the emphasis has often been on professional careers and university degrees rather than on jobs in the trades. But these days, blue collar work is making a comeback as both entities like Build Force and the Government of Alberta, work to engage youth in pursuing construction careers – not only as engineers, but as tradespeople.

While many youth tend to gravitate towards careers in technology, others are drawn to the art of craftsmanship and the current culture that focuses on local and handmade. Sociologist Richard Sennett, in his book The Craftsman, argues that “skilled manual labour – or indeed any craft – is one path to a fulfilling life.” With pop culture “reasserting the value of the handmade over the machine-made,” today’s youth are veering away from technology and becoming interested in making and building things with their own hands.

The success of programs like the Mind Over Metal Welding Camp demonstrate that youth are interested in pursuing careers in the Alberta construction industry.

Joel Thompson calls this “experiential learning” and argues that “experiential learning engages students in critical thinking, problem solving and decision making in contexts that are personally relevant to them. This approach to learning also involves making opportunities for debriefing and consolidation of ideas and skills through feedback, reflection, and the application of the ideas and skills to new situations.

According to Sarah Watts-Rynard, the Executive Director of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, high school students are “expressing the value of hands-on learning, the importance of doing work you enjoy, and respect for the contribution of tradespeople to society.”  A career in the trades is not a fallback plan, but a path that requires as much dedication and hard work as pursuing a professional career.

Society’s renewed appreciation for skilled manual labour is a welcome step towards inspiring youth to seek careers in the trades, and comes at a crucial time as Canada’s construction population is aging. Currently, the average construction worker is 41 years-old, meaning that in the next decade, there will be a labour shortage for skilled workers as many experienced tradespeople approach retirement. Even now, there are 24 trades across Canada facing labour shortages; engaging youth in construction career planning is essential to addressing these concerns.

Make your first call First Call Energy – Contact us HERE to get a quote or to start working with us!

Three Things To Consider When Choosing Your Next Hydrovac Company

We believe, with the current economic climate in Alberta construction and Western Canada, you should make a well-thought out decision when choosing your next fluid management company. The type of company that First Call Energy wants to work with are those looking to make mutually beneficial, long-term partnerships in the industry. We believe First Call Energy offers something that other companies in the hydrovac and fluid management business cannot compete with: we offer the best value, the best people and the best equipment, and these are the top three qualities you should consider when picking your next hydrovac partner.


The swampers and drivers that First Call Energy chooses to work with always have a few common characteristics: they’re always willing to go the extra mile; they’re diligently committed to safety; and they love what they do.

Safety: We are committed to creating a safe work environment at every level of our company, from employees, to peer contractors, to the public. Our COR Certified Group ensures this through ongoing in-house and 3rd party training, safety meetings, and collaborative communication with employees & clients.

Going the extra mile: servicing our clients to the best of our ability is one of our top priorities. Simply ask, and we’ll see what we can do to make your experience with us the best possible. As mentioned, our priority is creating long-term partnerships with industry leaders, not one-time projects.

Loving what you do: we believe you’re never going to accomplish your job correctly if you don’t already love what you do. Working with people who have the right attitude, and are ready to tackle any and all challenges that are thrown their way with a smile, have been crucial to our growth in this industry.

The Best Value

While each job is different, we have one of the most competitive price points out of any fluid management company working today. Don’t believe us? Request a free consultation HERE! We promise you’ll be happy with what we have to offer!

Our equipment

Recently, we upped our hydrovac capacity, being able to better service the communities of Fort Saskatchewan, Calgary, and and Fort McMurray. Our fleet, which is managed and operated by CJ Lefebvre, First Call’s Managing Partner, includes 2014 Tri Axle Tornado and Foremost Hydrovacs, Tri Axle Water Trucks / Methanol Hauling, and Tri Axle Straight Vac. Each truck is designed, built, and customized to the industry we work in, including excavation processes, tolerance tested, and regulated water pressure for optimum digging power with zero impact to utilities, objects, or the environment. Further specs are as follows:

  • Debris – 13.0 CU YD
  • Water Capacity – 2366 US GAL
  • Roots Blower – 5400 CFM 27″ HG
  • Water Pump – CAT Triplex Water Pump 14-60 GPM 0-3000 PSI
  • Boiler – 740,000 BTU 120V HOTSY
  • Boom – 8″ Top Gun
  • Reach – 33″ Extension Reach
  • Debris Door – 48″ x 36″
  • Controls – Wireless / Manual Backup

The services we’re able to carry out include, but is not limited to:

  • tandem & end dump trucks
  • flushing units
  • water trucks
  • vac trucks
  • heavy equipment
  • dump facilities
  • swamp & rig
  • mat rental
  • shoring boxes
  • steel road plate covers
  • mix off bin rentals
  • camera units
  • directional drills
  • dig frozen ground
  • pipeline crossing
  • cable fault repair pits
  • water main breaks
  • shoring installation
  • slot trenching
  • gas service installation
  • service pits
  • disposal
  • curb stop repairs

Make your first call First Call Energy – Contact us HERE to get a quote or to start working with us!

10 Safety Statistics that remind us how important safety is on the National Day of Mourning

On April 28th, the National Day of Mourning, we remember the men and women who lost their lives or experienced an injury while on the job site. Regardless of your position, everyone needs to follow the same protocols when it comes to safety. This way, we can ensure no lives are at risk. In order to shed some light on the importance of safety, we’ve gathered 10 facts that make you think twice about unsafe work practices.

1. According to the Canadian Labour Congress, there are hundreds of incidents that go unrecognized each year. Many workers die from occupational injuries or diseases that are not reported.

2. The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees paid tribute to 125 workers who lost their lives in 2015.

3. In 2014, 25,528 Albertans filed lost time claims due to work related injuries.

4. Ladders account for 16% of all fatal injuries in the construction industry.

5. The Occupational Health and Safety Association estimates that it has saved more than 75,000 lives since 1970 by using management and safety systems.

6. The most common injuries in Alberta’s construction industry are sprains and strains at 48.22%.

7. 40% of those who suffer an injury report a “re-injury” once they return to work.

8. The Canadian National Institute of the Blind states that every day, 700 Canadians experience eye injuries.

9. Falls are the most frequent construction injury and fall protection is the #1 cited violation as documented by the OHS.

10. In 2014, occupational death was the leading cause of worker death in Alberta. It accounted for 47.9% of fatality claims.

We hope these stats remind you to stay safe! 

Ed Talks 2016 and Kids Up Front!

Ed Talks 2016 was a huge success! Hosted by the Young Builders Group and held at the Hotel MacDonald, the event had well over 130 attendees. First Call Energy was this year’s presenting sponsor and we’re proud to team up with an organization that promotes the development of future leaders in the construction industry.  

Ed Talks is modelled after the now famous TED Talks. This year’s leading experts ranged from a variety of backgrounds, including the City of Edmonton, Edmonton Eskimos, Mosaic Family of Companies, Alberta School of Business, and Clark Builders. Each speaker was given 20 minutes (plus a period for Q&A) to educate the audience on their ideas and perspectives. Some of the topics included marketing and personal branding, leadership, employee engagement, and how Edmonton has decreased its carbon footprint.

Ed Talks also featured a game worn Dexter McCoil jersey which was raffled at the event. The raffle ended up earning over $800 and all of the proceeds went to Kids Up Front. Founded in 2003, the organization gives disadvantaged children and their families access to sports, arts, and entertainment events in the community. If you would like to put an unused ticket to good use or would like to make a financial contribution, go to their Donate page today.  

In addition to the raffle, we’re proud to announce that we will be giving 1% of our revenues for the month of May to Kids Up Front. Together, we can give kids and their families the ability to enjoy local games and events and give them a once in a lifetime experience.

Our New Name – First Call Energy

You might have noticed that over the last month, we have gone from First Call Hydrovac to First Call Energy, and are currently in the process of moving our website from to (so update your bookmarks!) and all our social media links have went from First Call Hydrovac to First Call Energy. You’ll also see that our logos on all our trucks will start to reflect the new name.

But what was behind the name change? We wanted to be your go to company for all things fluid management, and your turn-key solution for any projects that you may have. That means that we updated our full service offering with the new name change. What new services?

Our list of services include, but is not limited to (please contact us HERE if you don’t see your project):

  • tandem & end dump trucks
  • flushing units
  • water trucks
  • vac trucks
  • heavy equipment
  • dump facilities
  • swamp & rig
  • mat rental
  • shoring boxes
  • steel road plate covers
  • mix off bin rentals
  • camera units
  • directional drills
  • dig frozen ground
  • pipeline crossing
  • cable fault repair pits
  • water main breaks
  • shoring installation
  • slot trenching
  • gas service installation
  • service pits
  • disposal
  • curb stop repairs

On top of that, we’ve also added more trucks to our Calgary fleet, adding more capabilities to handle your project, faster. Interested in working with us? Call us in Edmonton at 7806675600 or Calgary at 4035891227! We look forward to creating a long term partnership with you!

State of the Alberta Economy

In 2015, as oil was in a free fall from the days of $100+ a barrel, Alberta’s economy had little to be optimistic about—but around January 2016, something changed. There was cause for optimism, and an air of stability was hitting the province.

As you can see, Initial Jobless Claims (unemployment) plummeted, manufacturing sales started to level off, and the 3 month employment average was coming back. Statistics Canada reported that initial jobless claims for the province declined on an annual basis in March, the first such drop since October 2014, when the Alberta recession started.

A lot of this could be due to the rallying of oil, as it starts to pick back up. You can see from the chart that the recovery and stabilization almost perfectly coincides with the oil rally:

But then we move to May, and the Fort McMurray fires. There’s no doubt that the the Alberta economy will be adversely affected now, and for months into the future, by the inferno. “The fires will create major distortions in the economic data over the second quarter, if not longer,” wrote Manulife Asset Management Senior Economist Frances Donald. “These data distortions will make it difficult to confirm conclusively whether the first quarter stabilization was indeed an improvement or only a temporarily pause in a longer-run economic decline.”

However, with signs of a economic stabilization prior to the fire, is there any room for optimism after the fire? Well, let’s look:

Real Estate

“There’s no better example of the underlying firmness in the Canadian housing market than recent signs of stabilization in hard-hit Alberta, and in particular Calgary,” added Bank of Montreal Senior Economist Sal Guatieri. “After plunging almost 30 percent last year, existing home sales in the city are now sliding at a slower 10 percent year-over-year rate, while the decline in benchmark prices has steadied at 3.5 percent in the past three months.”

Oil Prices

Oil recently rallied to above $50, its highest level since November 2015. Some of this is certainly due to the wildfires in Fort McMurray, but there’s more causes than that, that should leave us optimistic about its continued rise.

Demand has been much higher than expected in the last few months, in key economic areas like China, Russia, and India. Disruptions in supply, besides Fort McMurray, like in Venezuela and Nigeria, have dramatically reduced the stock of available oil.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets said, “while supplies remain elevated, the glut does now appear to be diminishing.”

Supply outages and growing demand from China mean crude prices will come into “much better balance” in the next few months, an energy analyst told CNBC.


What people often don’t realize is that construction, not oil, is the king of Alberta’s economy. Construction is the largest industry in Alberta, followed by healthcare, retail, professional science services, then oil.

And there’s a lot of money currently being pumped into infrastructure spending and construction: “Alberta’s NDP government intends to spend nearly $8.5 billion this year to build and modernize key public infrastructure in hopes of jump-starting the province’s slumping economy.”

One good measure is the value of building permits, which recently jumped 15.5%, 47.7% on higher construction intentions, and 114%, a record high.

So, is there reason for optimism? We hope so!

Safety tips: 10 ways to stay cool during the summer heat!

Summer is in full swing in Alberta, and though the heat is generally modest in our province, and our neighbours to the south might have it much worse, it can still reach upwards of 30 to 40 degrees on some scorching summer days. When you’re working hard for a client, this degree of heat can get into dangerous territories and can jeopardize a worker’s health, if not properly looked over.

So here’s 10 tips to staying cool during the summer months!

1. Recognition: Workers should be trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress or stroke and what to do if they notice another worker under visible signs of distress.

2. Hydration: workers should have available water at all times. Water is the key to staying cool during these hot summer months.

3. Nutrition: eating the right food will ensure that employees aren’t zapped of vital nutrients when they start to sweat.

4. Breaks: scheduled breaks, where workers can cool down in shaded areas, will be useful to maintaining safe body temperatures.

5. Smart Scheduling: Try to schedule the heavy, sweat-inducing projects near the beginning or end of the day, when it’s the coolest.

6. Clothing: encourage your employees to wear light-coloured, breathable, loose-fitting clothing—but be careful! Make sure they’re always wearing their appropriate PPE.

7. Sunscreen: workers should be wearing sunscreen on all exposed areas of their body, and then periodically applying it to their skin throughout the day.

8. Sunglasses: Provide workers with tinted safety glasses (PPE Approved!) that prevent glare and eye damage during their shift.

9. Cooling vests: An industrial cooling vest may be a good investment option. It can keep your workers consistently cool even through the most strenuous heat and weather.

10. Air conditioning: utilize portable, outdoor air-conditioning units and dehumidifiers at the job site, especially in areas where strenuous heavy-duty work is taking place.

Our Kids Up Front Donation!

In early May, we announced that we would be donating a portion of our May revenue to the Kids Up Front Foundation. We’re incredibly happy to announce that we raised over $1000.00 to the foundation!

What is the Kids Up Front Foundation?

The foundation was created in 2003, providing tickets and access to arts, sports, and entertainment events for children and youth who would otherwise not have the opportunity attend. To date, the foundation has donated over 300,000 event tickets valued at well over $6.5 million dollars. Through their partner agencies, they target underprivileged and disadvantaged youth and children, giving them an experience that not only broadens and enriches their life, but gives them the opportunity to feel a part of their respective communities.

“Kids Up Front allows somebody to feel included. When you’re at an event, no one knows how you got there, you’re just there with other people. You’re not pointed out to be different. You’re just belonging.”

Why did we choose to do this? 

At First Call Energy, we realize that we not only work in a community, but live in it, raise our children in it, and are intertwined with everything that happens in our respective communities. The more we help the community, the better we all become as a result. It’s one of the reasons why our business is interested in making real, long term relationships with other businesses, instead of simply business transactions. We are interested in truly community building.

If you’re interested in making a donation to Kids Up Front or buying a ticket for a kid in need, all you have to do is follow the instructions on their website. Click here to do so.

“Your ticket can ignite a kid’s passions, inspire their dreams and instil hope that they can have a future with limitless possibilities.”

The People We Work With

In today’s day and age, a lot of employees zip around from company to company, without any loyalty to the place they’re currently being employed at. Gone are the days of one-employer careers, where organizations strived to keep their employees happy in highly competitive markets. Why is this? Because most companies aren’t approaching their employees as their most valuable resource, their strongest asset, and creating bonds of loyalty between employer and employees.

However, this isn’t the way First Call Energy does business. We know our employees are our most valuable asset, as they’re who the customer interacts with, get to know, and they view our company through our drivers and swampers. As Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” When our employees are happy, the client is happy.

One of our clients, Brand Energy Solutions, had this to day about us: “There is no company in the industry more competitive and invested in your projects than First Call, thank you.”

We also instil in our employees a sense of community, of relationship building, where they make the client feel like they’re “more than just a dollar value,” because they are.

When asked about what his favourite part of working with the men and women of First Call Energy, Managing Partner CJ Lefebvre had this to say: “The knowledge and expertise each employee has is mind blowing. They have worked with different companies and multiple environments and bring lots to the table. I learn something new each and every day from my team.”

As you can see, we don’t just believe our drivers and swampers are the number one reason why all our customers stick with First Call Energy, we know that’s the number one reason. Our guys are always efficient, safe, and personable. They know what it takes to get a job done and they aren’t scared to get their hands dirty and to get into the trenches. They are the defining reason why we continually make partnerships in the industry, always willing to go the extra mile.

For example, after helping this particular client out with filling holes with sand, we went the extra mile (literally) and took the left over sand out to his farm, free of charge.

Does this sound like a company you want to work with? Contact us!

Industry and Academia explore research advancements in construction productivity and organizational competency!

Recently, there was a one-day event hosted by the University of Alberta, which focused on construction productivity, how to improve it, and outlined what project practices and people skills were related to the performance of a project, based on an extensive multi-year study, which collected job site data from multiple projects across Alberta. The event was put on by the School of Construction Engineering under the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Industrial Research Chair (IRC), and the Strategic Construction Modeling and Delivery (SCMD).

What did the research find? Let’s sum it up:

Managers and trade workers view productivity differently. What is viewed as productive work for a worker may not be viewed as productive work for manager. Specifically, they viewed productivity differently with regards to safety rules, frequency of re-work, training, experience, co-operation, fairness, assignments, frequency of accidents.

Interestingly, a survey by the National Safety Council showed that 60% of respondents in the construction industry believe their bosses favour productivity over safety.

Researchers found that effective working time (tool time) is not a good indicator of productivity. That being said, they also found that increasing tool time, while simultaneously increasing factors that impacted productivity would yield more than 1.5 times the results of increasing productivity alone.

Another interesting finding was that owners had a higher ‘maturity’ level than contractors when related to safety, environmental management, administration, commissioning, and start-up, while contractors out-scored owners when dealing with scope management, cost management, time management, and resource management.

All in all, the research gave the construction industry a benchmark to compare productivity of other companies, owners, and contractors. It is no secret that studies like these are important to an economic environment like Alberta, where reducing capital costs and competing with international markets is on everyone’s mind.

Road Construction Season in Calgary is upon us

There’s two seasons in Calgary and everyone knows them: road construction and winter! While everyone is out enjoying patios, sunshine, fishing, and long weekends, we’ll be busy deploying our trucks in and around Calgary, helping with the various construction projects around the city. Luckily this year, with the mild winter Calgary had, road construction started earlier than normal. While it typically starts in mid June, this year it began in May.

But even with the early start, Calgary still plans to complete 25% more road construction projects this year, due to lower oil prices, cheaper bids, and an injection of capital funding from both the Alberta government, federal government, and Calgary City Council (who approved a plan to increase capital spending by $47 million over the next 2 years). In total, the City of Calgary has a budget of more than $40 million to maintain and improve the roads of Calgary. This includes 15 major roads, 28 industrial streets, and 84 residential streets. The total kilometres of roads that will be serviced this summer totals more than 164KM.

“We have approximately 111 locations to do this year,” said Shannon Williams, senior paving leader. And Christopher McGeachy, a spokesman for Calgary Roads, said “We’re doing more construction, trying to take advantage of the depressed price of oil and try to get more infrastructure work done. For instance, we’re doing 12 contracted projects this year vs 6 or 7 that we normally do.”

Here are some major road projects going on in Calgary: 

Bonaventure Drive S.E. from Canyon Meadows Drive to Anderson Road S.E.

Edmonton Trail from Memorial Drive to 32nd Avenue N.E.

36th Street N.E. from Memorial Drive to McKnight Boulevard N.E.

Macleod Trail S.E. from 34th Avenue to 58th Avenue S.E.

Northmount Drive N.W. between Cambrian Drive and 4th Street N.W.

14th Street N.W. between Memorial Drive and 21st Avenue N.W.

You can find more information on all the major road projects HERE! 

If your neighbourhood is slated for construction work, the City of Calgary has set up a handy PDF that’ll give you a run down of what they expect of you.

Get to know the team: Managing Partner, CJ Lefebvre

With this blog series, it is our goal to give you a better understanding of who you are working with when you call First Call Energy.

In our first interview series, we’re talking to one of the key members behind First Call Energy, CJ Lefebvre, Managing Partner.

Q: Could you give a brief introduction to yourself and your role at First Call Energy?
A: Managing Partner. My key roles include business development, overseeing operations, growth strategy, team-building, and bringing to the table new and innovative ideas to give FCE the edge in our industry.

Q: How long have you been in the industry?
A: I’ve been in the industry for 13 years operating, supervising and managing up to 120+ people and 60 units.

Q: What first attracted you to the industry?
A: I was working on the rigs between the ages of 17-22 and operating a vac/hydrovac during break up periods. When I finally chose to leave the rigs behind, I went with what I know, which was the vac and the hydrovac industry.

Q: What do you love about working with other Albertan construction companies?
A: There is always something new and exciting happening in Alberta, whether it be oil and gas or infrastructure, and each company does things slightly different. Everytime we go to a new site, we get to see new and innovative ways of getting the job done and gaining that extra knowledge of the services we can supply, or new ways we can help. There are always things to be learned or ways we can go the extra mile.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting out in the industry, what would it be?
A: Keep your head up, be safe, always give your best and say yes to the overtime!

Q: How is First Call Energy capitalizing on its success in Edmonton and Calgary construction?
A: We have been able to build new units to help support our growing company, allowing us to better serve our customers with the equipment and manpower needed to get the job done.

Q: What are you hoping to achieve in the next 5 years with FCE?
A: We will have new divisions in BC and Saskatchewan, along with steady growth in Edmonton and Calgary, hoping to see 20-30 units throughout Western Canada.

Q: What do you think is the biggest factor in keeping the men and women who work with FCE safe while on the job?
A: We are a team and we work together to get the job done as a team. Each and every employee knows that working unsafe is not acceptable and that each step they take can have a long term outcomes towards themselves and their team. Putting each other at risk is not an option here and we strive to get better and more mindful of our surroundings, constantly pushing for excellence

Q: What’s your favourite thing about working with the men and women of FCE?
A: The knowledge and expertise each employee has is mind blowing. They have worked with different companies and multiple environments and bring lots to the table. I learn something new each and every day from my team.

Q: What has been the most challenging part about running a company like FCE (or one of the most challenging projects so far?)
A: Getting everyone on the same page and working together for a common goal. We all have different ideas on where we want to go but in order for anything to work and run smoothly we all have to be on the same page, whether it be safety, finances or overall production onsite. We all have to want to be better and give that extra effort to set ourselves apart.

Q: Any final words or anything else to add
A: First Call Energy will continue doing the best we can in the industry and will continue to grow, despite this economic environment. Our only competition is ourselves. If we stop wanting to be better we will fade into the darkness and this is not an option. We want to be the company of choice in the industry. We want to help people and companies on their projects and we won’t stop until we reach our goals of being the best in the industry and the First Call for all projects.

Tips For Finding A Job In A Recession

Due to the prolonged low price of oil, Alberta is on track for its second year of a recession, which will amount to cuts in investment and employment in many sectors, according to ATB financial. There are some estimates that say the provincial economy will be contracting by .5 percent in 2016, which follows a 1 percent decrease in 2015.

A recession like this hasn’t been seen in the province since 1982-1983, but, it’s not all bad news. The Canadian dollar has shown some recent strength, rallying back to .77c, the WTI is above $40.00, Canadian inflation has slowed to just 1.7%, and there is a planned meeting of OPEC countries to discuss an output freeze on April 17th. This shows there is some reason to be optimistic about the future of the Albertan economy.

However, right now, the fact remains that we are in a recession, and there must be some adaptation to the new normal that is our current low-oil price economy, which is why we’ve compiled this list of tips to better serve our fellow Calgarians, Edmontonians, and Albertans on their search for a new career.

1. Tailor your resume and cover letter to the position you’re applying for. When searching for a new job, there’s a desire to send out as many job applications as you can, hoping that one of them bites. However, the much better method is to be methodical, specific, and directed with your job search. Learn about the companies you want to work with, find out who works there, how you should present your resume, and send a personal cover letter. The shotgun method may make you feel like you’re out there looking for work, but in reality, it’s doing more harm than good.

2. Find the right company, not the right job. Like #1, the goal should be finding a company that you want to work with, and tailoring your application towards that company. You’ll be sure to stand out from the pack with this method. Once you have found the right company, then you can start building a plan of ‘attack,’ so to speak. You need to show your future employer that you are capable of long-term strategy development, self-starting, research, planning, and long-term goal setting. You need to confidently communicate that you want this position at this company. 

3. Look for companies that are thriving. In an economy like Alberta, there are businesses that are adapting to this new-normal and making it work to their advantage. These are the companies that you want to work with. If you worked in Oil & Gas, this may be an opportunity to try something new. This is where working for companies, not industries, and finding the right one to work with, plays in.

4. Remember: your resume and cover letter is a self-marketing tool, not a biography of your life. Provide valuable information that piques the recruiters interest. It’s recommend that you spend 3-4 hours per application on your resume, writing it more like a proposal, than a description of your past work experiences. Recruiters want to see how your skills can benefit them. The key is to make all your skills, employment history, and hobbies relevant to the position you’re applying for.

5. Make everything perfect. The little things matter. Make sure you have someone double and triple check that everything in your resume was grammatically correct and that there were no spelling errors. According to a study by Job Dig, a small typo is the number one biggest recruitment turn off.

6. In this day and age of Social Media, make sure your online presence is free from any clear blemishes. This is becoming more and more of an issue as we dive deeper into the lives of our Social Media personas. Take some time to google yourself and see what comes up, then correct anything you think may reflect poorly on you. You’ll be surprised what type of stuff you (and more importantly, recruiters) can find with just one search.

Hope this helps you in your search for the perfect job! Good luck out there!