Business booming for eviction services, repossessing firms in Alta.

CALGARY -- While the crash in oil prices idles drilling rigs and empties out downtown Calgary offices, Steven Low's company can barely keep up with the deluge of work.

See Full Article

Low is CEO of Consolidated Recovery Group, an agency in Western Canada that works with lenders and the courts to recover bad debts -- by repossessing a car or carrying out an eviction, for example.

It's been a busy year for the company and the work has only picked up as the crude doldrums linger, squeezing the finances of the many Albertans who rely on oil and gas to make a living -- either directly, or through its economic spinoffs.

Low says bailiffs at his firm are working around the clock and he's even had to hire more staff to get all the work done.

According to the Alberta Sheriff's Office, civil enforcement industry activity grew by more than a quarter between April and October of this year.

Low says even though his industry is booming right now, he and his staff don't relish profiting off of people's misfortunes.

"We don't gloat or feel terribly excited about the economic conditions right now. We approach every single repo and seizure as an opportunity to help respect the dignity of the debtor," he said.

"We'll even go out of our way to seize a vehicle around the corner or allow the person to bring it out of their place of work so that co-workers don't see their vehicle being towed away. Anything we can do to help a debtor, who's co-operative of course, to save face is something that we seek to do."

John Shortridge, who runs Allied Shortridge Civil Enforcement, figures he's twice as busy now as in the spring.

Shortridge is a veteran of the business -- first with the Alberta Sheriff's Office and then on his own after civil enforcement functions were privatized in the province in 1996.

He already has the sense this oil price bust is going to be worse than the one brought on by the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, which was followed by a relatively speedy recovery.

"This reminds me more of '82 and '83. It was bad and it was long... My view is this is going to be a long haul," Shortridge said.

"In some ways, every recession is the same in that the first thing that goes are the toys -- so the motorcycles, the fifth-wheel trailer, the campers, the cottage," he said.

"All the extras go first. And then people work their way down to more basic things -- the house and the car being the last two payments that they would default on."

Shortridge said he doesn't think the full impact has hit yet, as many laid off employees are still able to make ends meet thanks to severance packages. Once those run out, he expects to be even busier.

Shortridge said he looks to hire bailiffs who have a mixture of "thick skin and compassion" to conduct tasks that are often emotionally fraught.

"When the bailiff goes to the door, you can't yell at the economy, but here's somebody you can yell at," he said.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Uber executive out after failing to disclose sexual harassment allegation: report

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK - A top engineering executive at Uber, Amit Singhal, is out five weeks after his hire was announced. According to a report in the tech blog Recode, he failed to disclose that he'd left his previous job at Google because of a sexual harassment allegation. Source
  • Bell Media names Randy Lennox president after Mary Ann Turcke leaves

    Economic CBC News
    Bell Media has named Randy Lennox as its president following the departure of Mary Ann Turcke for a new opportunity with the NFL. Lennox, a former executive at Universal Music Canada, joined the media giant in August 2015 as president of entertainment production and broadcasting. Source
  • Bell Media names Randy Lennox as new president

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL - Bell Media has named Randy Lennox as its president following the departure of Mary Ann Turcke for a new opportunity with the NFL. Lennox, a former executive at Universal Music Canada, joined the media giant in August 2015 as president of entertainment production and broadcasting. Source
  • Are loyalty programs even worth it anymore?

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The value of customer loyalty programs is under increased scrutiny by companies and users in the wake of Air Miles' recent reversal of an unpopular expiration policy. The operator of the shopper reward program, LoyaltyOne, angered many members last year with its proposal to void unused Air Miles after five years, only to abandon that plan weeks before it was to take effect. Source
  • Manulife admits fine by money-laundering watchdog Fintrac

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Manulife Financial Corp. confirmed Monday its banking unit was penalized last year after Canada's money-laundering watchdog concluded it failed to report a suspicious transaction and various money transfers. Last year, Fintrac fined the bank $1.15 million, but it withheld the bank's identity, saying it was exercising its discretion to do so. Source
  • B.C. increasing minimum wage to $11.35

    Economic CTV News
    VICTORIA - The minimum wage in British Columbia will rise by 50 cents to $11.35 an hour in mid-September. The ministry says there will be an identical increase of 50 cents to the minimum wage for liquor servers, bringing it to $10.10 per hour in September. Source
  • 5 billion mobile phone users projected for 2017: study

    Economic CTV News
    With populations in Asia on the rise, the number of mobile phones, which stood at 4.8 billion a year ago, should mushroom to 5.7 billion, or three quarters of the world's population, by 2020. The number of mobile phone users globally will surpass five billion by the middle of this year, according to a study released Monday by GSMA, the association of mobile operators. Source
  • Behold the KEYone: Last BlackBerry-designed phone with a physical keyboard

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Fans of BlackBerry's classic physical keyboard will have reason to celebrate when the last product designed in part by the former smartphone leader becomes available in April. The Waterloo, Ont.-based firm played a role in developing the KEYone, named for the return of the QWERTY keyboard that other smartphone designers have mostly long retired. Source
  • Manulife revealed as bank FINTRAC fined $1.15M for anti-money laundering failures

    Economic CBC News
    The head of Canada's top financial crime watchdog is second-guessing his decision last year to withhold the name of a Canadian bank — which CBC Investigates has identified — fined $1.15 million for violating the federal anti-money laundering and terrorist financing act. Source
  • Manulife revealed as bank fined $1.15M for violating anti-money laundering reporting rules

    Economic CBC News
    The head of Canada's top financial crime watchdog is second-guessing his decision last year to withhold the name of a Canadian bank — which CBC Investigates has identified — fined $1.15 million for violating the federal anti-money laundering and terrorist financing act. Source