Central Interior Catering & Consulting Ltd.: Making a Turnaround toward Success

Central Interior Catering & Consulting Ltd. (CICC) remains family owned and operated after 35 years in the foodservice industry. CICC caters to the resource industry, providing site preparation, kitchen design and foodservice to remote clients, mainly at mining, logging and construction camps. The smaller-sized company competes with larger corporate competitors by utilizing fresh, locally grown products.

CICC was founded in 1978 by the Theessen brothers, and was then purchased by Ed Theessen, current president of CICC, in 2006. At that time, Ed assumed full ownership after working his way up through company ranks. “It’s a tough market,” he admits. “But we’ve been doing this for two generations.” According to family tradition, Ed’s 27-year-old daughter is next in line to take over the family business.

Going Off the Grid

CICC is based in Prince George, British Columbia, but the team is rarely in the office. The staff, ranging from 50 to 100 people depending on the job, travels from Alberta to Yukon. The CICC team goes directly to the remote location, setting up a full camp to suit each individual client’s needs.

Once on-site, the company ensures everything is up and running, from the kitchen design to the phones and Internet. CICC provides well-rounded services by checking on-site maintenance, completing water sampling and sewer systems.

“Our job is to take the headache out of the operation and allow our customers to do the work they came to do,” says Ed. “It makes it easier for our client to have to only deal with one entity that does all trades. We make sure there are the right materials and equipment to allow us to do our job. It’s not about the cheapest equipment, but the right equipment.”

CICC travels to locations that are, more often than not, completely off the grid. “We have to keep in mind how everything is going to run remotely,” shares Ed. “Everything must be able to run on a generator.” The company has earned such a respected reputation in managing remote sites that Canadian Public Health Services habitually recommends CICC to other clients.

Ed believes his staff is truly to thank for making it all possible. As a family-centered business, CICC treats each employee as such. “We want our people to feel significant in what they do for us, because it’s really a team effort,” describes Ed. “We’re no better than our employees.” Everyone works together in mutual respect, from the dishwasher to the CEO.”

Positive Attitude Equals Positive Results

In 2008, as Canada’s economic situation continued to worsen, it was this same dedicated team at CICC that convinced Ed not to close the company’s doors. “I was simply at the end of my rope,” recalls Ed. “We were down to just a handful of employees and we had little to no work. I wasn’t taking a paycheck because there’s no way we could have afforded that.”

Just when Ed thought he had enough and was ready to call it quits after just two years of ownership, his noble employees convinced him otherwise. “One day, they all came into my office,” reveals Ed. “They said they wouldn’t quit and I wouldn’t either, because they refused to work for anyone else. This gave me a newfound sense of hope.”

According to Ed, this is when he realized that his negativity was coming through in all aspects of the company. In order to turn things around, Ed needed to change his attitude. “Once I changed that, everything seemed to pick back up again,” he says. “My staff was more productive and we had more work booked. I realized a positive attitude turns out positive results.”

After some much-needed reorganization, an attitude change and a little help from a government-sponsored job-sharing program, CICC was back on its feet. “2010 was our best year on record and we’ve been building on that ever since,” adds Ed. “I’ve even gone back to the university to learn more about business so I can run our operations effectively. I’ve learned you get what you put into life.”

The Freshest Products Possible

Today, CICC is able to pride itself in delivering the freshest ingredients possible to any location. “We stay away from prepackaged, processed foods,” explains Ed. “Our signature is preparing meals fresh on site with the highest quality sustainably sourced ingredients.” CICC enriches the local economy by working with farmers and growers and purchasing directly.

“Times have changed and things have moved to a faster, faster mentality,” Ed details. “Yes, that might increase production, but not quality. I think many people have forgotten what a farm even is.”

CICC buys fruits, vegetables and organic, free-range grass-fed beef right off the farm. The product is picked one day and in CICC’s kitchens by the next morning; it’s that fresh. “I think we’re the only caterer that actually hangs beef and cures our meats the old-fashioned way,” adds Ed.

CICC offers 60-day menus that feature interesting regional cuisine themes, heart-smart and vegetarian menu options. “We’re really there to feed the crews and keep them happy,” says Ed. “After all, a happy crew is a productive one.”

The company offers a wide variety of choices on every carefully selected menu; the options are delicious, and endless. CICC offers everything, including vegetarian chili, curried chicken, beef stew with biscuits, shrimp stir-fry, baked salmon with dill sauce, grilled Salisbury steak with onions, turkey potpie, as well as ham and potato quiche, among many other options.

After 35 years in business, CICC has seen its share of ups and downs. To this day, CICC has managed to survive due to a dedicated staff and a commitment to providing remote crews with full-service catering. For Ed Theessen and his team, CICC is more than just food; Central Interior Catering & Consulting Ltd. is about satisfying clients through the freshest food possible.