Village National Group provides industry-leading workforce accommodation for the oil and gas sector, amongst other industries, across Australia. Chris West, CEO, tells us more.
MAKING ROOM FOR MANY
Strong commodity prices and a growing oil and gas market in Australia have seen the demand for workforce accommodation continue to increase in recent months.
As demand drives production, more workers need to be accommodated.
Based in Queensland, Village National Group (Village National) is a leading provider of workforce accommodation solutions. The company operates with two distinct divisions: Village National Fixed Camps (VNFC) and Village National Mobile Camps (VNMC).
VNFC offers strategically located static facilities in key resource-rich locations across the country, while VNMC provides flexible mobile camp solutions that can accommodate a workforce anywhere at any time.
“In some locations it has become very difficult for organisations and their workers to find accommodation, and most of our facilities are running with occupancy rates very close to 100 percent,” opens Chris West, CEO of Village National.
“There is unsatisfied demand across many of our regional centres and this is good for both us and the communities; local businesses also benefit from an influx of workers,” he reveals.
Village National was founded on a desire to provide generous hospitality to some of Australia’s most isolated workplaces and has built a reputation for delivering high-quality services and facilities to its clients, regardless of potentially remote locations.
The company is an unlisted public entity limited by shares and boasts approximately 220 employees working across three company-owned facilities, located in Moranbah and Emerald, Queensland, as well as approximately 25 teams deployed across numerous mobile camps located throughout Australia.
The group services a variety of industries, from coal mining to oil and gas, construction, renewables, and exploration.
The secret to providing good accommodation is simple – comfy beds and delicious food, served by friendly, helpful staff.
Cooking teams within Village National have the freedom to create their own menus and order their own stock with little supervision. To facilitate this initiative, the company sets a per-person, per-day budget and each chef works to this, allowing individuals the freedom to demonstrate their culinary flair.
“We expect our chefs to know their clientele and cook accordingly – for example, a client group comprised of fitness enthusiasts may want a high protein, low carbohydrate menu, whilst other clients may not; giving our chefs the flexibility to build their own menus ensures both groups can be catered for,” explains West.
Village National aims to develop a reputation within its camps as ‘homely’. Its teams are trained to understand that life for those on a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) or drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) roster isn’t easy, and as a result they genuinely care about guests.
“Our staff generally know our guests on a first name basis – many of them have stayed permanently in our camps for years. “This results in a can-do attitude with no problem too big or too small to solve,” details West.
The company allows any individual or manager to internally recognise an employee for an outstanding performance or achievement – or just to say thank you.
Village National’s ‘Years of Service’ recognition programme further motivates staff to strive for the best.
“When we receive direct client feedback, we publicly recognise this via social media channels, as well as internally,” West adds.
Alongside internal initiatives to cultivate innovation and staff well-being, Village National supports local enterprises. By engaging with local communities and purchasing local produce whenever possible, the company aims to empower small businesses.
“We engage with local Indigenous groups, have an Indigenous Engagement Plan, and are working towards a Reconciliation Action Plan,” outlines West.
By engaging with local schools and regional technical and further education (TAFE) facilities as part of its employment strategy, Village National plays a part in bolstering the local economy and developing beneficial opportunities for local people.
Industry wide, Australia has seen a push to improve both the quality of food offerings and facilities at many workforce accommodation camps across the country. Village National has always been passionate about prioritising the employee experience, placing it at the heart of its operation.
“If workers aren’t well rested and well fed, they are not happy, and this directly correlates to on-the-job performance as well as their health and well-being,” emphasises West.
Village National’s food offering is distinctly different and stands out from the crowd. In each location, the company does not prescribe to a fixed, cyclic menu.
“To guarantee we satisfy everyone’s needs, there must be several options presented at each meal service. We are well known for the high standard of our food,” he states.
Furthermore, Australia has seen demand for an increase in average room size, and Village National has responded with its current new builds.
At 20 square metres (sqm) per room, the company’s offering is significantly more than the industry standard, with older rooms measuring less than 12 sqm.
“Our new rooms are industry-leading – at 20 sqm, they are 60 percent bigger than a standard room,” excites West.
Additionally, Village National strives to develop rooms that are more sustainable with a lower environmental impact, from both a materials and energy efficiency perspective.
Made with a recycled product, double-glazed, and completely isolated from each other, Village National’s rooms are soundproofed, thermally insulated, and exceptionally quiet – a perfect offering for night shift accommodation.
As Village National continues to expand, its vision for the future means growing its outreach and upgrading its facilities.
“In the last 12 months we have continued to improve our facilities. We installed a new kitchen diner facility in Emerald, capable of feeding 400 to 500 people per day. This building was constructed using the same eco-friendly materials we have integrated into our new rooms,” outlines West.
In other locations, the company has extended kitchen facilities, constructed new laundries, and installed new eco-cabins.
Village National has big plans to expand its fixed camp footprint in an environmentally-friendly way, using purpose-built eco-cabins. Most of this expansion will occur in the coming 12 months.
“We have expansion plans that will add capacity to all our facilities. This growth will be comprised of 20 sqm eco-cabins and will provide improved amenities alongside green advantages,” he details.
Furthermore, the company is constantly on the lookout for merger or acquisition opportunities.
Businesses that suit the company’s strategic plan are especially advantageous to Village National, as it actively diversifies its business into adjacent markets.
“We are currently working on renewable energy sites, and are actively pursuing additional opportunities in that sector,” West concludes.