“When we first moved to Sachigo Lake,” Ed Mickelson of Mach One Global Solutions reminisced, “They said, ‘we have a house for you. It needs a bit of work, but we know Ed’s handy’. When we got there, the house had been flooded, and there was no hot water tank, no wood stove, lots of mold in the basement area, and the cooking stove upstairs was literally black with grease.”
Ed Mickelson and his wife, Pauline, did make that house livable, but the difficulties have always stuck with him. “You can’t just run to home Depot or Canadian Tire when you’re up there. Everything becomes a logistical nightmare because you need to fly all this stuff in unless the winter roads are open and even then there’s time and fuel and wear and tear because winter roads aren’t kind to suspensions. That’s why I decided to start Mach 1. As a technician, you’re trained to figure stuff out. When you’re presented with a problem, you find a solution.”
While Mach 1 Global Solutions offers their services to everyone, there is a philosophy of bringing services and procurement options to remote communities that don’t break the bank and keep the unique needs of northern regions in mind, including building capacity within communities to service and maintain their equipment.
“We work with a homecare specialist in Thunder Bay, and they have little mechanical lifts. They only take a few hours to set up, they’re built in Canada, and they’re simple. They don’t have 50 different circuit boards, and when we ship something remote we don’t want 50 service calls. Communities can spend thousands of dollars on material for ramps. It’s three days of construction, and when it’s no longer needed, by the time we get it apart it’s damaged and easier to just build a new one. The lift is five feet by five feet, the base doesn’t need to be concrete, it’s movable, and it’s only a 20 amp circuit. Nothing special.”
Accessibility options for communities is an important aspect of Mach 1’s vision for sustainability socially as well as mechanically. “Those little things where we can work with the communities, especially when it’s so important for the remote north as they age, and they require more care. The resources are very limited , and if it reaches that tipping point, the Elders may be forced to leave. We’re working with the First Nations to convince the Federal and Provincial Governments that patient accessibility need to be covered under their benefits. On the monetary side of care, there’s benefits. We’re not flying the Elder in and out for care, they are able to stay in their home longer, remain in thier community, it’s in everyone’s best interest.”
No aspect of upgrades, new builds, or project management is too small for Mach 1. Ed recently prepared a presentation on new technology in door hardware to avoid the challenges even a lost or damaged key can create when you don’t have access to an easy replacement. “Now, we have interchangeable cores. If you lose the key, you pull the core out, grab a new one, and it has its own key and it takes ten seconds to change.”
Similar presentations and displays have focused around rock glass (an affordable glass cover or replacement that prevents breakage), alternatives to drywall in building materials that are mold-resistant, solar components that contribute towards efficient housing, and indicator systems in new builds that can cue homeowners to call for service before a small problem becomes a big one.
Because those service calls can also be managed by community members with training and tools, Mach 1 also offers direct facility maintenance training to help improve the skills of the locals on the ground. “Whether it’s the housing crew that’s actually building the house or the crew that’s running around fixing a toilet or changing a faucet or replacing a door or a broken window or something of that sort.” Mach 1 tries to arm the boots on the ground with as many tools as they can in order to make their jobs easier, from hardware for technicians to software for management to control inventory and oversee workloads.
From installing solar to new builds to sourcing quality pots and pans, “the whole organization is based on finding the most efficient solution available,” Ed explains, “It doesn’t really matter what your problem is, we’ll find a solution for it.”
If you are a property owner, manager, or hold a housing portfolio and would like to discuss solutions for your organization or community, talk to Mach One by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.