Temporary housing for oilfield workers isn’t commonly associated with luxury.
Raceland native Dex Comardelle is trying to change that in oilfields and gas patches around the country.
Comardelle, 23, operates the Go-Motel serving workers at the Bakken Shale formation nearly 2,000 miles from home in Williston, N.D.
His father, Ricky, spent 25 years building housing quarters for Gulf of Mexico oilmen at Raceland’s Fiberglass Unlimited.
As the shale boom rose, Comardelle was finishing a degree in hospitality management at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
“I thought I was going to Dallas to work in the restaurant industry,” Comardelle said. “My plan was to go there and try my own concept.
His dad brought the shale boom to his attention. The two saw an opportunity and Go-Motel was born.
“We created this with the idea of mobility and luxury in mind. We wanted to bring something different to the industry. We wanted to change the perception of housing in the industry,” he said.
The 150-room, portable Go-Motel opened in Williston in May 2012. Comardelle said his father designed the rooms and the two wanted to provide space and privacy, uncommon features in such housing.
“People don’t normally expect to see facilities like ours,” he said. “When they hear that they think of roommates bunking, shared bathrooms and things like that. We wanted to change that.”
Go-Motel rooms are outfitted with private bathrooms and satellite television to provide a more hotel-styled environment, Comardelle said.
The concept marries those amenities with comfort food served three times a day from the motel’s dining facility.
“That is one thing about North Dakota I wanted to bring was a little bit of our culture,” Comardelle said. “Our culture and southern roots and passion for quality food was something I used when I designed the platform for our catering operation.”
Wednesday night is Cajun night at the motel and features local classics such as etouffee and gumbo.
“That goes a long way with the guys. A lot of our residents are from the South, and it gives them a little taste of home,” he said.
Comardelle said he plans to expand the business to other oilfields and communities with similar housing needs.
“We can create that home environment for these guys working hard so far from their families. We can put out a meal and share our culture. It puts a smile on their face and makes them feel at home. That is an awesome feeling to be able to do that for those guys,” Commardelle said.