Grande Prairie companies handling brisk business with eye on talent

Industry activity is keeping a frigid winter hot right now around Grande Prairie and Fox Creek, industry players say.

“The activity and work levels are huge right now,” says Tony Madoche, general manager with JDA Oilfield Hauling. 

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From down to Whitecourt/Fox Creek area, up through Grande Prairie and into B.C., certainly. Madoche says JDA is holding their own in a slower market. 

“We’re looking for some bigger iron and expanding into more crane work; it’s a residual business and can expand our work scope on the jobs,” he says. 

“It has definitely slowed. The economy in Alberta certainly. We’re operating at perhaps 70 per cent where we could be and have,” Don Gilbert, dispatch man with Hitch Em Oilfield Hauling, says. 

Hitch Em is all about general oilfield hauling work; helping out with rig moves. 

“The trick is to keep our people busy when there is less work. There is always maintenance to do.”

Hitch Em is a 12-driver outfit, five or so swampers, handful of mechanics, overhead, safety, and office staff, owned by Mitch and Heather Sutherland.  

“We try to keep the fleet versatile to handle anything that comes up.”

Driver Jason Bjordal, who has been with the Hitch Em crew for a couple years, agrees. 

“To be ready to handle the work.”

Hitch Em just moved to their location north of GP on Hwy 670 less than a year ago, and have been in the business since 2007. 

Madoche says 2020 is already looking better.

“The talk is about being landlocked and losing U.S. business as they become more self sufficient,” he says.

“We need that pipeline to the coast, and governments supporting the industry. For three years, the NDP didn’t support this industry. Now they are, but it is too late.”

JDA Oilfield Hauling brings 50 power units, a dozen hotshot, plus fleet and trailer support.

Cold weather blues

February has froze the north; but the oilfield keeps working. 

“The cold weather is hard on the equipment; hard on the people,” says Gilbert.

“When it gets to this point; we’ve got trucks in the shop overnight.”

Madoche agrees. 

“Cold weather hard on everything; at this level the pro heat bloodline heaters don’t even keep up. We’ll have trucks running all night to stay going when it get to that -40 and -50 C point.”

Madoche says the key to the continued success in the area will be the people. 

“Every team out there wants to keep their good people. Quality is tough to find; so are good drivers. We like to keep the talent we have.”

Email Rob Brown at

Don Gilbert, dispatch man with Hitch Em Oilfield Hauling, tells trucks exactly where to go. - Rob Brown
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