- Helene Marcoux
- Starting to Post
- Posts: 1
- Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2007 9:13 pm
- Location: Edmonton, AB
Remembering my very first day, the tight and highly interpersonal staff made for a Where's Waldo of an affair for picking out Lasse. While not planting, I wasn't expected to lift a finger; however assistance was often rewarded with an early morning latte. I've had mixed to generally okay experience with four past companies, but I'd attribute my preference to hybrid's attention to safety, excellent pricing and refreshingly organized camp. Company size is around 30-40 and quite often composed of friends of friends or experienced planters who were seeking an upgrade.
Having extended these memories, I feel obliged to throw a little mud on an otherwise spotless record. Recent years have suffered from a drought of Buttless Chaps appearances, so much so that only a handful of planters remember the Chap's year end show in the bush. I'll see what i can do at the March 10th show in T.O.
In closing, there's one word to take home my fellow planters, Graviton. Count yourself lucky if you have an opportunity to bask in this goddess of showers!
Good luck with the hunt,
I've been planting for 9 years, through Ontario, BC and Alberta. I have worked for 7 different companies, and have been offered foremaning jobs with many of them. After foolishly starting my career in Ontario with Thunderhouse, I spent each of the next 8 springs with Hybrid 17, with 4 of those seasons as a foreman. Consequently, I feel pretty qualified to provide a fair review.
Hybrid 17 is owned and operated by Lasse Lutick and his wife, Sarah. They have been running it for about 15 years, having bought it out from Lasse's mother who operated it under the name Forestcraft. Lasse has been in the industry since he was a kid, and has lived in the Burns Lake area, where the company operates, for just about his entire life. He's local, and he's been doing it forever.
Long Story Short: Great money, great camp, great supervisor, great owner, good food. Only downside is short season. It was a truly awesome place to spend as much time as I did there, and I really can't say enough about Lasse. Also, it has the best foreperson in the industry in Jannine. There have been other places that have been really good to me (working for Peter at Artisan, Zap at Windfirm), but Hybrid 17 takes the prize. The only downside is the short season. Read below for details.
While there are lots of things to rant about, the greatest strength of this company is the organization. Partial days, down days, gong shows and cluster fucks are a true rarity. There is little overhead compared to some other companies due to the small chain of command - Lasse works in camp as the supervisor, and there is only one camp. Crew vehicles are newish F-350 rentals, meaning we don't have frequent breakdowns. There aren't insane luxuries (sorry, no cruise ships on Ootsa lake), but Lasse is an incredibly resourceful guy, so things run smoothly and camp is quite comfortable.
Camp population: Obviously, it varies. That said, it has largely been older (maybe 24 or 25 year old average, maybe older), experienced (only one rookie in last 4 years), and relaxed. No violence and no assholery policies. Very queer-friendly. Always aims for 50/50 male female ratio, and generally comes pretty near to it. Overall size is 30 to 35, including foremen + occasional vacation planters/visitors/children/family. Very high returning ratio, as very few planters move on - the vast majority of planters I have seen at Hybrid have retired from Hybrid. Usually runs with one or two 12-packs, one or two 6-packs.
Food has been great every year that I've been there. I've only ever had better food once, but that was legendary (NGR '02 - fillet mignon, lobster, among others). The cook has been the same woman for the last several years, and she's stellar. She's always been great when dealing with a wide array of allergies and dietary requirements (vegetarians have occasionally been near 50% of camp). Food varies constantly and it's high quality. It's healthy, nutritious, plentiful, and tasty.
Contracts: There are generally two main contracts (plus the occasional small side gig). The bulk of the work is generally for HFP, from whom Hybrid 17 has had a direct award contract for at least as long as I've been there. The other half of HFP's work goes to Dynamic. HFP's quality specs are slightly higher than the norm, but not by a wide margin, and nowhere near as tough as they once were. In any case, the specs are pretty easy to adapt to, and tree price compensates for any quality demands. Minimums are 1.6, and they really like high spots and straight trees. Hybrid has a great relationship with HFP and with the foresters, so there's no confusion over quality expectations. HFP contract camp has been on the North side of Ootsa lake for years now (103 on the Tahtsa Reach). The second contract has varied throughout the years, but has always proven to be equally lucrative. I'm not in the loop for what's happening this season, so I can't comment on what it will look like.
Money: Money at Hybrid 17 has always been good. Prices are relatively high. Since Lasse supervises the camp, he knows the blocks intimately and can adapt prices accordingly. This means that planters are likely to make the same money day in day out - there's not a flat contract price, meaning even if you're in the shittiest land, you can make as much as the guys in the cream. This also means there's no favoritism: If you've been there for one year or eight, you're treated the same. As far as earning potential goes, it's hard to say. There's not really anything in the way of a highballing or competitive attitude in camp, and foremen don't pressure planters to pound. The way I always saw it when foremaning was that it's your job: you go out there, you work, and you go home. If you want me to push you, I can do that, but it's not my default. You make whatever you want to make, I just ensure that the conditions exist to make it possible. That said, there are usually some pretty great planters in camp, so there's lots to learn, and foremen, forewomen and Lasse all work their asses off, so there shouldn't be any waiting for trees or land. Tree claiming is done by the bundle, and Lasse is a stickler for good accounting so overclaims don't go unnoticed (that said, when there is overclaim, there is no collective punishment like I've seen elsewhere). Of those highly experienced planters and ballers who have spent some time with Hybrid (generally in the twilight of their careers), they have all stated that Hybrid 17 offered the best money they've made. Of those few who have moved on elsewhere, the only complaint was that while Hybrid 17 offered the best money per day, the season was too short.
Season Length: Here's the tough part. For most of my time with Hybrid, the season length was between 35 and 40 days. There have been a few years with a little bit of extra work, but I generally had to go do summer work elsewhere (hence the breadth of experience). That said, things may change this season, so you'll have to ask.
Shifts: 4 and 1
Camp Cost: 25$/day
Accommodations: Largely bush camp, occasional hotel or resort
Unpaid Labour: Not expected of anybody, except a quick wipedown of mess tent tables once or twice a season. Volunteers do dishes for camp cost.
Drives: Have occasionally been long, but tree price is bumped up to compensate.
Day Length: Breakfast is at 6, leave for the block at 7. Finish work and back in the trucks at 5 (somewhat negotiable for a block close, I generally worked with crew input, don't expect to ever push past 6 at the latest).
Final note: I can basically guarantee that you'll love any time you spend there, so I very highly recommend it. I'm happy to answer any more questions, or to get you contact info for Lasse/forepeople.
In hindsight, this looks like a pretty biased and fawning review, but in all honesty I think it's actually pretty balanced given what I have to work with.
Folklore, 2011: http://tinyurl.com/anl6mkd
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