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Business Growth: Expedition Helicopters

Expedition Group of Companies comprises a helicopter division, a freight division, camp services, and a logistics division, serving clients in the mining, forestry and energy industries.

The Expedition Group of Companies was launched as Expedition Helicopters in 1999 to provide helicopter services to First Nation communities along the James Bay Coast and to provide support to grassroots exploration companies in the James Bay lowlands. 

The Cochrane-based expeditor has expanded over the years into a fully diversified company with a helicopter division, freight division, camp service and logistics division, predominately serving clients in the mining, forestry and energy industries.

“We may have started as a helicopter company, but we vertically integrated the company to be able to provide our customers with a one-stop shop,” said President Todd Calaiezzi. “There’s nobody else that does this, not to the extent that we do.”

The majority of its work is done in Ontario, Manitoba and Québec, but their coverage area spans the country, including the Far North.

As remote camp specialists with long-established ties to companies across Canada, Expedition prides itself on mobilizing quickly and coming up with creative solutions.

“We react quickly and decisions are made immediately,” said Graham Campbell, business development advisor and estimator. 

“We can move and execute a camp the next day. It sets us apart from our competition. We can make the impossible happen.” 

Campbell is new to the company, bringing an impressive résumé built up over 18 years as a Northern Development Advisor with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

“When it comes to Graham,” said Calaiezzi, “he has long-standing relationships with a variety of stakeholders in Northern Ontario. He’s spent the last 25 years working in the tourism industry across the North and has countless contacts that will be vital in assisting the company.”

Expedition specializes in customized and self-contained camp setups, ranging in size from 10 to 12-person tent camps to larger modular arrangements of 1,000 people or more for long-term stays.

“We provide a turnkey operation that takes care of power, sewage and water,” said Campbell.

“Whether you have infrastructure or not, we can set up a camp with all those amenities.”

Executive dorms offer single and double occupancy with hotel room-like features of internet and satellite TV. 

“We pride ourselves in offering the most modern accommodations,” said Campbell. 

With Red Seal chefs on staff, quality is second to none in providing first-class accommodations, food and janitorial services, he added.

“We’re big on service, from our cleaning staff to our camp managers, one of the most important aspects of our staffing is the level of service we provie to meet the needs of our clients.” 

With a seasoned roster of highly skilled pilots, their fleet of 14 helicopters makes Expedition one of the largest rotary wing companies in Ontario. 

A reliable truck fleet enables Expedition to transport skid camps safely and efficiently, making them the go-to provider for custmers that need rapid deployment of workforce housing in the event of a forest fire or any other type of emergency.

Ahead of the client’s arrival, Expedition will travel to the site, deploying its staff to set up the accommodations, prepare meals, and install communications infrastructure.

“We’re also really versatile in the sense that we have the ability to relocate our camps quickly,” Calaiezzi said. “We tailor our services to our customers’ needs.”

Beyond camp work, Expedition is eager to grow its capability of constructing remote bush roads with its fleet of Sno-Cats.

“We’re very environmentally conscious of what footprint we put on the ground,” said Campbell.

At full-strength, Expedition boasts a workforce of 150 to 180 during peak exploration seasons. 

The company often hires Indigenous members from the nearby communities in the remote regions where it operates, and purchases supplies from local vendors, whenever possible. On any project, while it’s common for Expedition to employ as many as a dozen First Nation members, the company believes in providing more than just a paycheque.

“We believe in providing First Nation communities and their members with the tools to succeed,” said Campbell, through collaborative business agreements with a tribal council, community or even individual Indigenous entrepreneurs. 

“Instead of a joint venture where we just flow cash, we believe in bringing them into the project, teaching and building capacity to manage and operate a business on their own,” said Campbell, indicating this was a factor that attracted him to the company.

Businesses from across Northern Ontario showcase their growth and success in this advertising feature.