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    How & Why Gemstone Logistics’ Strategic Acquisitions Strengthened Our Offering

    How & Why Gemstone Logistics’ Strategic Acquisitions Strengthened Our Offering

    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.

    5 Reasons Your Remote Project Needs A Charter Flight Program.

    5 Reasons Your Remote Project Needs A Charter Flight Program.

    Charter Flight Programs help your projects run more efficiently.

    Gemstone Logistics was founded 10 years ago, primarily to develop and manage large-scale fly in, fly out (FIFO) charter programs for remote industrial projects. Today, we are largely focused on providing software solutions to help projects run more efficiently, but running charter flight programs is still an important part of what we do.

    When any big project is green-lit, you can bet that one of the first things to be considered by management is where to get the skilled workforce necessary to make it a success.

    For most major resource-based projects in Canada, this often means tapping into the country-wide labor pool to take advantage of distinct pockets of skilled workers. For example, one of our Alberta-based projects sourced nearly all of their bus drivers from Newfoundland, and another staffs a large proportion of their carpenters from one town in British Columbia.

    Over the last decade, Gemstone Logistics has safely organized and overseen more than two million passenger journeys from 18 different charter hubs across Canada.

    When it comes to moving high volume work forces large distances to and from work, we know it usually comes down to a choice between charter flights (where the project owner pays for the whole plane) or commercial flights (where seats are sold individually by the airline).

    In our experience, a charter program with a minimum of 65% utilization is more cost effective in the long run compared to buying the equivalent number of seats with a commercial carrier, or giving employees a travel allowance.

    Here are five reasons why setting up a charter flight program is more attractive than relying solely on commercial flights:

    1 – Location

    CampWare Remote Lodgings Software SolutionsDo domestic carriers like Air Canada and Westjet have scheduled flights that would arrive close to your project location? If not, you will need to make ground transportation arrangements for the workers, which adds to the cost and logistics.

    On the other hand, charter flights can land at private airstrips (Fixed Based Operations, or FBOs) which provide more flexibility and convenience than having to use a commercial airport when it comes to security processes, turnaround times, boarding processes etc.

    2 – Capacity

    Using a charter carrier gives you the flexibility of being able to change the gauge (aircraft size) to suit your project’s needs. Contrast this with a regular scheduled service from a commercial carrier — are there even enough seats on those planes to satisfy your project’s needs?

    Your project workers will be competing with residents, commuters and potentially other project workers in trying to buy a finite number of seats.

    3 – Pricing

    Charter flights are set at a largely fixed price, no matter if there is one or 100 passengers on board the flight. The price is not 100% fixed as there may be fluctuations in the fuel price or a need for de-icing. With a dynamic approach to pricing, most commercial airlines increase prices as the time to departure gets closer.

    Also remember that travel agency fees and luggage charges are usually added extras, so try not to make your analysis too granular by only comparing the cost of one charter seat with one commercial seat on a similar route.

    4 – Productivity

    Commercial schedules might not suit the labour needs of your project — for example, if a flight gets in at 4 pm and is followed by a one-hour bus journey, there is little productive time left in the working day.

    Using charter flights, the project owner has full control of when the workers arrive on site and when they go home, making for a seamless handover at a time that suits the project.

    5 – Certainty

    How often have you arrived at the airport only to find your flight has been cancelled? This is an unpleasant scenario at the best of times, but even more so if it means workers can’t get to site because of a cancellation. In this case, there could be serious consequences for both the worker and the project, and commercial airlines won’t be held responsible for the knock-on impacts of a cancellation.

    On the other hand, the charter carrier is responsible for getting passengers to their destination as quickly as possible following a disruption to the original flight, even if it involves using trains, planes or automobiles.

    Looking for more information about setting up a charter flight program for your remote project?

    Contact us today — we’d be glad to help.

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