Moosomin – With a pipeline crew numbering in the hundreds in town for several months, it’s a good time to be a hotel operator.
Josef Tesar, Sr., is the CEO and owner of Motel 6 in Moosomin, one of three new hotels built along Highway 1 in recent years after the highway was twinned and relocated a little further north.
Motel 6 opened six years ago. “I built it. I’m the owner,” said Tesar, who is something of a serial entrepreneur. It’s family-owned and operated. He spoke to Pipeline Newson Nov.7, just before leaving to get on a plane to Kelowna, where he resides.
“We sold a property, a Ramada, in Prince Albert. We were looking for investment in southeast Saskatchewan due to the growth, especially oil, potash and agriculture, and to be on the TransCanada Highway,” he said.
The planned Energy East project, which has since been cancelled, would have been of great benefit to the hotel, with hundreds of workers in the community to build a new terminal northeast of Moosomin and a pipeline from Cromer to that terminal. If that project had gone through, it would have entailed the construction of a tank terminal northeast of the community, on the TransCanada mainline near the Manitoba border. That tank farm would have included three 350,000-bbl. tanks, and by connection via a lateral pipeline from Cromer, Manitoba., which would have allowed southeast Saskatchewan and southwest Manitoba oil to be shipped via Energy East. Additionally, another proposed pipeline, the Upland Pipeline, would have allowed up to 300,000 bpd to be shipped from Williston, N.D. onto Energy East, via Moosomin. All of this would have led to a lot of business in Moosomin.
That’s all done for now, but Tesar is confident it will come back.
The four-storey Motel 6 has 76 rooms. Tesar noted it’s the only hotel which uses solar power for its water heat.
The hotel’s first three years saw extremely positive economic activity, with a multi-billion potash project at Rocanville, north of Moosomin.
The oil downturn hurt. “Due do the oil economy, business went down. And now it’s back as it was, extremely busy, with over 95 per cent occupancy,” Tesar said.
They keep a few rooms available for walk-in business.
Pipeliners started showing up in mid-August.
“In this area, the project has no on-site facilities, so the workers are on their won where they stay,” Tesar said.
While many pipeliners stay in their own campers as much as possible, come late fall, camping season is pretty much over, especially as the bulk of the crew moved to Moosomin.
“It was already cold to live in their own trailers,” Tesar noted.
“We also offer an additional five acres that can be used for large projects, but that was not needed,” he said.
By mid-September they were filling up. “We think it’ll last until March,” Tesar said.
There will still be follow up clean up work on the pipeline project for at least a year, meaning ongoing business.
“It’s the best thing that can happen for the community. We are very thankful for the business and growth. We hired five fulltime employees.
“This project is an excellent group of guys and girls, and the management to work with is a pleasure to do business.
Energy East hopes
Tesar said, “We hope there will be more projects like that across Canada, because the economic growth is inevitable. Energy East, we are 100 per cent behind it, and I believe 100 per cent the project will be back on track wine all the pieces are back.
“I think it will come back. I think it’s just politics. When everybody gets a proper piece of the pie, it’ be approved in the future. As soon as we cut off Saudi oil coming in, it’ll be approved fast. We need someone with the guts to go and say ‘No’ to Saudi oil.”
Tesar, 63, knows a thing or two about disagreeable governments. He and his wife, Krista, and son, Joe, escaped Czechoslovakia’s communist rule in 1980, after he had established a prominent career as a national champion Greco-Roman wrestler. The transit from Czechoslovakia to Canada took them a year, from Yugoslavia to Austria and eventually Canada. They ended up being sent by the Canadian government to live in Prince Albert, where he started washing dishes at the Marlboro Inn and worked his way up in the business from there.
Their daughter, Jessica, was born in Canada.
Pipelines factor into another of his other business ventures as well. Four years ago, Tesar bought three acres at Terrace, B.C. with the plans of building a hotel there. That’s close to Kitimat, which has just recently seen a $40 billion liquified natural gas project approved and sanctioned. Now he’s considered building another Motel 6 there, or possibly selling the property. “It’s lucrative both ways,” he said.
Tesar has been involved in a hotel project in Cabo St. Lucas, Mexico; a restaurant and bar in San Diego, California. Eventually he’d like to own one in Kelowna, B.C.