When Jordan Jolicoeur took over his dad‘s small, part-time electrical business, striking deals with big energy companies was a distant dream.
That was in 2013, when he and his brother, Joel, became the owners of Carvel Electric, based in Stony Plain, Alta.
At the time, the brothers were happy to take any job they could land.
“We were pretty much handed a small work van and a bag of tools,” Jolicoeur said. “When we first started out, we would work for anybody. We would wire basements for family and friends.”
Four years later, Jolicoeur is being honoured with the Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
Company now winning contracts in the oilpatch
The company now employs 10 people, and its clientele includes rail and energy companies such as CP Rail and Kinder Morgan.
“When you do a good job for someone, it kind of carries over and you meet someone else,” Jolicoeur said.
The company has moved into larger-scale contracts, and now specializes in industrial electrical control systems.
“On an oil pipeline facility, for instance, there is a lot of automation for the electrical control system,” he said. “They need to control a certain valve or oil process remotely, so our electrical controls are installing electrical systems around automating oil facilities.”
The position he‘s in now is the result of years of training, first to become a journeyman electrician.
Jolicoeur, 28, will become the first Métis winner of the national award at a special gala in Toronto in January.
“There were a number of well-deserving recipients, but what separated Jordan from the others is that he took a vision from his dad and he built it up with his brother,” said JP Gladu, president and CEO for the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
Majority of employees are Indigenous
Gladu said Jolicoeur was chosen by an independent jury, and the award carries an inspiring message for Indigenous communities across the country.
“We need to see ourselves as Indigenous people in faces of success, and Jordan is one of those faces,” Gladu said. “There have been enough negative stories in the media, so it‘s great to turn that around.”
Jolicoeur said he has continued his father Sylvio‘s approach in hiring from First Nations communities, with six of his 10 employees identifying as Indigenous.
The family are proud members of the Métis Nation of Alberta, and in turn the organization has been a strong supporter of their business.
Jolicoeur hopes budding Indigenous entrepreneurs take heart from his company‘s efforts.
“I hope it shows that you can build something out of nothing,” he said. “Anyone can do it, if you put your mind to it and you work hard.”