Industrial contractor expands into Northwest

·3 min read

Thunder Bay, Ont. — With roots in the Alberta oil and gas industry, Centerfire Energy Group has found itself immersed in the energy and mining sectors in Northwestern Ontario through its expertise in heavy equipment services.

Their services include large-scale clearing, high voltage work, civil construction and general site maintenance.

Centerfire’s chief executive officer, Cam Wodham, says the company is an Indigenous-owned full-service industrial and commercial contractor that was asked to come to Northwestern Ontario for the development of the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Line.

“Through a partnership with ThawiKayhiGan Group (TKG Group), which is a consortium of First Nations northeast of Thunder Bay, we were successfully awarded to be a group on that project, and we’ve been working on that for about four years now,” Wodham said.

He said all of their experience comes from the industrial resource industry.

“And that’s a big reason why we’re here,” he said. “We are providing mine support and everything from process-related construction, operation, maintenance, right down to building roads, and clearing trees.”

Centerfire Energy Group has been supporting the oil sands for the last 20 years and Wodham says they are looking for other regions into which to expand. He explained that the company has been planning to expand to Thunder Bay since 2019 but the COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay.

“We are here looking for some space and looking to become part of the community here,” he said. “The goal is to be part of the community and go after some work. We will work with as many First Nations communities and members as we can to put people to work to try to achieve a better way of life for those who may have not had the opportunity to before.”

Wodham says since about 2017, they’ve acquired four businesses under their umbrella.

“We want to be the go-to, one-stop shop for all these industrial operators,” he said.

The Centerfire company currently employs upwards of 150 people and has had to ramp up its human resources department. Wodham says like most industries, they are not immune to supply-chain issues either. Having a large fleet of heavy equipment, parts and other equipment have become a problem over the last few years, but he credits their good relationships with vendors “to keep things rolling.”

“We’re here to support and we want to be responsible to the stakeholders, including the First Nations — that’s first and foremost for us,” Wodham said. “After that, we’ll work safely and be good stewards of the environment. That’s kind of the mantra we live by as a group. We’re here to support needs from really anything across the spectrum that contractors require and we’re happy to supplement that capacity, which we understand may not entirely be here at this moment.”

Wodham and his team were exhibitors for their company at the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce Prosperity Northwest expo last month.

Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal