Soon after the global financial crises of 2008, the forestry sector in Northern British Columbia noticed a downturn, and it was specially during that time that DWB Consulting Services Ltd (DWB) saw the real benefit of not relying on just one sector.
Youenn Wilson, operations manager at DWB in Burns Lake, said that in 2009 he shifted from working in the forestry department to do get some on-the-job training and do some monitoring work in the company’s environmental department.
“That’s what keeps the company successful,” said Wilson. “A lot of the resource-based industries or clients are cyclical in nature, so it helps the company to diversify [its services].”
The company’s wide range of services include road design and construction, environmental assessments and management plans, bridge inspections, river engineering, harvest plans and ecological mapping.
Offering a wide range of services has not only good been positive for business, but it has contributed to keep staff motivated.
“Most employees get exposed to the other departments,” said Wilson. “I think it’s the diversity that has kept things interesting for me, that exposure to those other areas of consulting.”
The company has been using the interdepartmental exchange as an asset to attract new employees and overcome one of the company’s main challenges – attracting skilled workers to rural areas.
“Small town life isn’t for everybody and it can be a tough sell,” said Wilson. “There is also a shortage of forestry technicians and an increased competition from other sectors for this same group of workers.”
Another way the company has found to overcome recruiting challenges is by offering employees competitive wages and benefits.
“We try to make the company as appealing as possible,” he said.
Wilson said that although the company has grown significantly since its early start in 1990, DWB still hasn’t lost its “family-oriented feel.”
“I’ve worked with other consultant firms in the past, and it’s the family feel of this company [DWB] that has kept me here.”
In 2007, the company expanded operations to Burns Lake, focusing mostly on the forestry sector and some environmental work. The Burns Lake office has six permanent employees and brings staff from other offices for all engineering projects.
Wilson said that apart from offering a wide range of services, DWB tries to rise above the competitors in the area by developing “cost effective solutions” to environmental, engineering and forestry issues.
“We try to differentiate ourselves by offering a quality product at a competitive price for our clients,” said Wilson.