Mission possible: How NEAS delivers the goods in the Canadian Arctic

Mar 25, 2021 | North of 60 News

For NEAS, the moment the Arctic waters open up each sailing season in late June, the pressure in on. 

All cargo is precious. The timelines are tight.  Arctic conditions including weather, climate, and ice are unpredictable and extreme. The countdown is on until the ice closes in again. 

“NEAS sealift services are an essential lifeline for local communities and businesses across Canada’s Eastern and Western Arctic,” says Suzanne Paquin, president and CEO of NEAS. “Our crews and employees are dedicated to safely delivering on time.”

Contractors can’t start building badly needed new housing and infrastructure in Canada’s Arctic until heavy equipment and materials arrive.  Schools need books and supplies.  Store shelves and warehouses in every community need new inventory and stock.  Mining companies are waiting to develop new sites. The military needs to resupply installations critical to Canadian sovereignty and defense. Families are eager to take possession of their sealift orders and new skidoos, ATVs, pick-up trucks, and minivans.

“We bring important cargo for big projects to the North, and that’s great. But the best for me is when a local customer is waiting on the beach to sign for their cargo, so excited and relieved,” says Marie Lee Albert, a beach checker. “It’s rewarding to see how happy everyone is when their supplies arrive on time and damage free.” 

The stakes are high and NEAS delivers.

“Every day, every hour is critical,” says Olivier Bolduc, assistant manager of the NEAS terminal in Valleyfield. “Our logistics and planning must be meticulous.”

NEAS is a business built on listening to local customers, continuous improvements, and refinements supported with strategic investments in modern Inuit-owned vessels, and new technologies to adapt, overcome, and succeed in the harsh realities of Canada’s Arctic. 

“For NEAS customers, we log and analyze every detail, beach, community, environment, and sailing,” says Paquin. “We use what we learn to feed our continuous efforts to improve efficiency and reliably deliver a superior NEAS sealift customer experience year after year.”

Planning for the annual sealift begins long before the Arctic waters open up. Booking reservations from the NEAS.ca website, an industry-leading online sealift reservation system, starts rolling in months in advance. The NEAS Cargo Service Centre in Valleyfield starts processing, packaging, and loading containers as cargo, which is dropped off by appointment. 

“Lading of each vessel is a sophisticated balancing act based on several critical factors such as the navigational route, the distribution of weight, the dimensions of the cargo, and the space available,” says Bolduc. “Our goal is to green light vessels every sailing that maximize volumes and loads for safe and efficient discharge.” 

Every customer has unique requirements. Every customer’s cargo is precious. 

“This year we delivered prefabricated steel modules for a new hotel and conference centre. The entire 94 rooms, 12 suites, gym, dining room, and bar. All prefab units were transported and locally discharged by NEAS,” says Paquin. “We also deliver school supplies in other communities, including all the provisions for their nutrition programs. It’s all important and all cargo is precious.”

This focus on providing best-in-class sealift service for every customer is why NEAS gets glowing customer reviews. 

“The support and service we have received on the front lines and with upper management have been impeccable,” says a senior project manager with a major REIT. NEAS’ support is key to completing “very challenging work, in very remote areas of the North,” says a service director with a leading Quebec-based remediation company. The construction manager for “an extremely challenging undertaking” in Cambridge Bay, describes NEAS sealift services for a major federal project as “impeccable”.

And, as they say, the customer is always right.

Established in 1998, NEAS is equipped to accommodate and service every community and any site in all regions of the Eastern and Western Arctic, with standardized procedures and equipment to adapt to extreme Arctic conditions and lack of marine infrastructure. NEAS is the packager of choice for governments, retailers, major building contractors, construction suppliers, and military contractors.  Contact us at 1-877-225-6327 or sales@neas.ca.