July 31, 2012
OFFICES TO GO
FEATURE | Site Services
Construction site offices on wheels
Modular construction site offices are typically built to be delivered on skids and remain on a project site for an extended period of time.
A new breed of mobile offices on wheels is filling a sales and rental niche for construction supervisors, consultants and engineers who require more mobility.
“Our clients are typically people who need to be on a construction or drilling site for anywhere from two or three days to three weeks,” says Rick Edmundson, regional sales manager for Offices to Go, with offices in Red Deer, Alta. and Weyburn, Sask.
The company offers a range of standard and custom wheeled office trailers to customers in Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, North Dakota and Montana.
Edmundson has been in the office trailer business for 30 years and says the designs of the units have changed considerably since he entered the field.
“Most people requiring short-term offices back then would work out of their trucks,” he says. “Others would ask for customized cargo trailers with some holes cut into the walls. Typically, these units would last five to six years before they’d get too beat up to continue. They weren’t built for rugged field use.”
While trucks still double as offices, there’s an increasing stigma associated with the practice, says Edmundson.
“A modern construction office needs a filing system, communications system and computer,” he says. “You can’t run all of these things effectively from the front seat of a truck.”
The new mobile office mantra: durable, warm and comfortable.
Offices to Go builds its units on six-inch tubular steel frames with tough fibreglass exteriors, and torsion-based suspensions.
“They’re much warmer as well,” he says.
“Typically, the market supplied offices with walls an inch-and-a-half thick and with R14 insulation on the sides and R20 on the floor and ceiling. We’re now selling them three-inches thick with roughly R27 on the sides and R36 on the roof and floor.”
The trailers also come with dual pane thermal windows.
They’re either supplied with electric heat, achieved by plugging into a generator or light tower, or with a propane heater back-up.
Standard issue amenities include desks, washrooms, microwave ovens, refrigerators, air conditioning, leather sofa beds and flat-screen televisions. The company will even mount a satellite TV antenna to the roof of the trailer to provide top-quality reception.
“A proper office trailer provides a more professional image to the world, including a sense that the person working inside it is organized,” says Edmundson. “Unlike a pick-up truck, our trailer offices also offer large windows that allow superintendents or consultants to easily monitor a project site from the office.”
Popular custom trailer requests from clients include built-in generators, altered floor plans, or trailers with air safety rooms for work in oilfields where sour gas might pose a safety hazard. A custom office trailer requires from six to eight weeks from design to construction to delivery.
Unlike the construction industry, the mobile office company is busiest through the colder months, and sales activity is tied to the success of the resource sector.
“Maybe I’m not thrilled to see high prices when I’m filling up at the gas pump,” notes Edmundson.
“But at the company, we like to see oil at over $100 a barrel.”
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