The Yukon saw a banner year for the mineral exploration industry in 2011. With $307-million of total expenditures, the Yukon nearly doubled its previous record. Exploration companies arrived by the boatload, looking to set up work camps and move infrastructure to far flung locations throughout the Canadian north.
The immense needs of the industry created perfect conditions for dynamic young entrepreneurs to make their mark on the Yukon business community. No one has done this more effectively than Ross Mercer and Lisa Marino, owners of Mercer Contracting.
“When the exploration boom came, we were ready for it,” says Mercer, whose company currently leases property in the Porter Creek industrial area and has an expanding fleet of semi and one-ton trucks. “We had a very good year.”
So what services does Mercer Contracting offer? In a word—everything.
“Our strength is our versatility,” says Marino. “We offer clients the ability to get everything they want from one place.”
As the 2011 season began, Mercer Contracting focused primarily on transportation and expediting services, but as exploration continued to ramp up, Marino and Mercer saw that the needs of their clientele continued to expand.
Now they are offering a full range of trucking services, including pilot cars, and a number of options for camp installations. Mercer Contracting can sell and install exploration-camp infrastructure customized to cleint’s exact needs. They will also provide full staffing services upon request.
Richard Elkington, logistics and operations manager for Revelation Geoscience, heard about this reputation before he had even been to the Yukon. He has used Mercer Contracting at every stage of the cycle of an exploration project – from conception to deployment.
“I first met Ross when I did a project up here three years ago,” says Elkington. “Ross came recommended by other geologists.”
The decision to hire Mercer Contracting is one that he has never regretted. “It’s been a fantastic experience. The whole crew is a pleasure to be around.”
Among the things that Elkington appreciates the most is the honest and straightforward way they dealt with him. “I’ve worked with them a handful of times and they always deliver on-time with the price we agreed on.”
In an industry sustained by strong working relationships, Elkington plans to use Mercer Contracting well into the future.
“I look forward to working with them as they continue to grow,” he says.
Among the things that Marino and Mercer are most known for is their ability to adapt to unpredictable situations.
“We’ve done some very last-minute camp installs in challenging conditions,” says Mercer. “But we’ve finished them on time and on budget.”
Perhaps the most challenging camp they ever had to set up was in northern Manitoba in the winter of 2011. “Things were winding down and then we got this call to install a 25-man camp,” says Mercer.
They jumped at the opportunity and soon found themselves trucking their way to Manitoba on the Trans Canada Highway. When they arrived, the mercury had dipped to -45 degrees Celsius. “We did what we needed to do,” he says.
Marino’s most vivid memory from that experience came when she was helping install the camp’s electrical system with only two eye slits exposed to the cold. “We can look back on it now and laugh,” she says.
As Mercer Contracting heads towards 2013, Marino and Mercer are looking to build on their past successes and well-deserved reputation. They are moving their operations to a bigger yard to keep pace with the growth of their company, and are also diversifying their business to ensure it remains financially viable in all seasons and all economic climates.
Mercer Contracting is a true Yukon success story – forged by the can-do attitude that made our territory great in the first place.