Partnerships in the oil field
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“It blows peoples’ minds when they see how much oil we extract from those coveralls,” says George Halfe, Goodfish Lake CEO.

Success stories in the Oil Sands: Goodfish Lake

Extracting oil ... from clothing!

It seems an unlikely producer of oil when you consider their business is manufacturing and dry cleaning coveralls for the oil and gas sector. But George Halfe, CEO of the Goodfish Lake Business Corp. (GFLBC), near Fort McMurray, says they extract between 15 and 20 barrels of oil every three months from cleaning the soiled and drenched garments.

The company was established in 1978 and is split into two services; a dry cleaning company and a coverall manufacturer. Halfe says GFLBC cleans between 2,000 and 2,500 garments every day for over 50 different companies, primarily oil sands mainstays Suncor Energy and Syncrude Canada Ltd. On the manufacturing side, he estimates the company produces over 100,000 garments annually. It’s quite a departure from the company’s beginnings, when the manufacturing side was run by a local sewing club of about six women.

The company was started by the Whitefish Lake Band (#128) as part of an initiative to boost the community’s ailing economy and provide work opportunities for band members. GFLBC now employs 90 people from the community out of a total population of 2,000, all thanks to the band’s full ownership of the company. “When you actually own the businesses you don’t have to depend on anybody,” Halfe says. “You can make those decisions as a nation.”

These days, Halfe’s major preoccupation is educating young people to take his place.  Halfe says retaining local workers is essential if the Whitefish Lake Band hopes to continue to be a prosperous place for business. “Somebody’s going to have to replace us one of these days, because we’re not always going to be here.”

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