Helicopters Magazine recently sat down with Peter Barratt, vice president and operations manager of West Coast Helicopters. Over what was apparently some seriously strong coffee, Barratt told author Bill Tice all about his life philosophy, how his company got started, and the impressive new hangar the Vancouver steel building pros, JDG Construction, recently built for his company in Port McNeil.
Port McNeil is the head office for West Coast Helicopters, which has three other bases in Nanaimo, Campbell River and Bella Coola. As the hub of the successful Vancouver Island company, the Port McNeil office and hangar needed some significant improvements to accomodate the staff and the precious equipment.
“We have 24 of our 44 employees at this operation and we were stepping on each other,” Barratt explains in the article. “We also needed more hangar space because of the climate and coastal location here in Port McNeill. It’s a corrosive environment for helicopters and up until now, we couldn’t keep all of our aircraft inside.”
To protect the fleet from the elements, JDG provided an imposing new 8,900-square-foot hangar. The structure boasts four huge overhead doors with a unique engineering feature that Barratt is particularly pleased with, according to the article.
“If you simply open the overhead doors, the new hangar can accommodate four AStar helicopters,” he explained to Bill Tice. “But the building is self-supporting and the posts are on tracks, so once you have the doors open, you can slide the posts to the sides, which means we could fit up to eight helicopters in the hangar if we had to.”
The state-of-the-art hangar seems to be the perfect compliment to the adjoining office space, complete with pilot’s lounge, kitchen, gym, storage areas and green building features.
Barratt told the magazine that he and his partners at West Coast Helicopters are extremely proud of the new hangar completed by Vancouver steel building experts, JDG, in May, along with the rest of the all-important headquarters.
With such an impressive set-up, it’s hard to believe that West Coast Helicopters was once just a few guys with a dream and willingness to work hard.
“We built the company’s original hangar ourselves,” Barratt confesses.