How & Why Gemstone Logistics’ Strategic Acquisitions Strengthened Our Offering
Fully Integrated Software Solutions
Gemstone Logistics has been providing remote workforce management solutions for over a decade. We’ve come a long way since our president and founder, Tom McHale, used his three decades of experience in the oil and gas industry to start a consulting business for workplace travel and accommodation management.
Gemstone has always been motivated by innovation and the constant drive to take bold new approaches as technology advanced. We first acted on the need we saw for software-based workforce management solutions in 2013. Since building our flagship product, CIRYS, for travel management, we’ve built and acquired other pieces of the workforce management “puzzle.”
Although our acquisitions have given us the ability to be more flexible and accommodating for clients, they didn’t come without their own set of challenges. Here’s a brief history of why, how, and when we made our strategic acquisitions.
Taking Care of Your Employees from Door-to-Door
Growth for the sake of growth has never been our goal. From the outset, we were looking at the problems our customers face from all angles and asking, “How can we do more?” They were asking us the same question, which is why we decided to expand our company by integrating new software products.
One of the main challenges remote camp operations have always faced is the lack of a full-service and fully integrated end-to-end solution for getting their employees from home, to a worksite, and back home again. Clients asked us for more. They wanted management and reporting for charter flights, accommodation oversight, and LEM tracking. And while it didn’t happen overnight, we’ve since delivered on those requests thanks to the collective effort of several teams.
Our First Product – CIRYS
Our first proprietary software solution, CIRYS, was designed in 2013. CIRYS offers flight and transportation booking, as well as room booking. Since designing it, we’ve added highly requested features such as a convenient traveller app for on-the-go bookings, custom reporting options, and a CampWare integration. This leads us to our first acquisition – Orissa Software.
Our First Acquisition – Orissa
Acquiring Orissa Software in 2015 was a no-brainer for the Gemstone Logistics team. We were already working with some of the largest camp operators and catering providers in the oil and gas industry, and they needed solutions for managing extensive remote workforces.
With Orissa, we acquired CampWare, a market-leading solution for managing guests once they arrive at a remote camp location. This allowed us to offer our first end-to-end travel and accommodation solution for remote workforces. Since then, we’ve made upgrades and and integrated it into our other programs.
Of course, when you acquire a company, you want to retain the talented individuals who already contributed to its success. In that sense we ‘acquihired’ several key people who are still with Gemstone Logistics to this day: Jenn, Jerry, Justin and Rhys.
Our Second Acquisition – DXI Solutions
Our second acquisition was built out of a long-term relationship we’d been developing for years. Our flagship software, CIRYS, had been created in 2013 in partnership with Dr. Jianfei Xu, who owned a company called DXI Solutions.
In 2016, we made the strategic move to acquire DXI Solutions and officially bring its talented staff and programs into the Gemstone family. This included a couple of programs called x-site and i-site, the features of which would eventually be combined to become ILLUMYS, our project control management software. Since both ILLUMYS and CIRYS were built on Dr. Xu’s proprietary software, UniEngine, we were able to bring elements of ILLUMYS into CIRYS for our clients, including demand forecasting and shift scheduling.
During this time, we weren’t just figuring out the logistics of combining our software systems; we were also trying to integrate staff and offices. With DXI Solutions came current staff Steve, David, James, and of course, Dr. Jianfei Xu.
The Challenge & Excitement of Integrating Staff & Offices
At one point in time following these acquisitions, our team was spread out across four offices in Edmonton and Sherwood Park. Although it was challenging to collaborate, we invested in digital communication tools like Skype and took the time to visit each other to get to know each other better.
In 2017, we officially brought everyone together in our Time Square office space in Sherwood Park.
Although it’s been four years since our last major acquisition (we’ve also grown a small but mighty travel agency who in 2019 ranked #15 out of 180 agencies in their area), we’re still growing internally, which means shifting people around to find the right fit and workflow is fairly common. We also tend to promote from within and allow for cross-training, so that requires flexibility in workspaces.
Opening the Door to Opportunities
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that Gemstone Logistics would not be the same without all of our talented team members and innovative solutions. We’ve been able to serve clients with the robust solutions they need for managing large remote workforces, both in Canada and across the globe.
We continue to be open to these opportunities, strategically evaluating companies that could bring value to the portfolio, and in turn, to our clients. If you want to learn more, get in touch with our corporate development team.