Leaders in remote tourism and logging
Committed to Economic Growth
By Anna Guy
On traditional territory on the west side of James Bay, Ontario, the Moose Cree Fist Nation (MCFN) has a long history of economic progress, notably from a history in the fur trade. Today, the Moose Cree First Nations’ are engaged in the economy as ever through the Moose Cree Group of Companies.
Incorporated in 1985, the Moose Band Development corporation was formed to create economic opportunities and benefits for the approximately 5,000 members of the community. Business Elite Canada spoke to Rick Poulin, CEO of what is now the Moose Cree Group of Companies LP. “The Moose Cree Group of Companies LP is a limited partnership,” says Poulin, “with the MCFN being the sole shareholder.” Poulin says what started out as an economic development arm for the community has grown to something other than that—to a full-fledged business arm of the First Nations employing 75 people, with six different businesses and continues to grow.
Poulin joined the Moose Cree Group of Companies LP in 2013, into a situation where acquisitions were not carefully planned, properly scrutinized, duly executed or followed accordingly. This resulted in some “difficult situations where the financial interest of the company [had] not been safeguarded.” It is testament to his and his board of directors’ performance that MCGoCLP is now a profitable company with a reputation for transparency, accountability and business acumen.
“Now in 2017, its like night and day from where our operation was then to now,” smiles Poulin. “I can go purchase a $500,000 piece of equipment and have it delivered with very few financial hurdles to overcome given our improved credit rating with major equipment suppliers. Receivables are 30 days, we have good credit, our bills are paid, and we have entered into a budgeting process, because we put qualified people in the correct positions.”
In 2003, the MCDC acquired CS Enterprises from a local logging contractor, becoming one of the primary logging contractors in the Cochrane area, supplying round wood to area sawmills and paper mills from Timmins to Cochrane. In 2015, the Moose Cree Group of Companies also assumed harvesting operations from Resolute Forest Products, along with the workforce, resulting in a “stump to dump” contractor.
“Now we are now one of the largest logging contractors in northeastern Ontario, and we own all of the equipment we use,” says Poulin. “In 2010, we strengthened our position in the forestry industry with the newly formed 3 Nations Logging. Today, 3 Nations Logging is the backbone of our corporation, and is one of the largest logging contractors within the region, delivering in excess of 250,000m3 of wood to the Tembec Sawmill in Cochrane, Ontario and Northwestern Quebec.” Three Nations Logging is also the second largest harvesting shareholder on the Abitibi River Forest behind Tembec Inc.
Remote Tourism—the Crown Jewel of the North
“We also saw a prospect in the remote leisure tourism industry,” says Poulin. The company found Kesagami Lake Lodge, a remote fly in lodge was a good fit. Known as “the Crown Jewel of the North”, Kesagami Lake caters to clients from across the globe and has future plans for further bolstering their profile in the tourism market. “Our remote fly-in fishing lodge provides awesome pike and walleye fishing trips that will be remembered forever,” says its website. “Our 4-star American Plan fly in lodge provides excellent meals, accommodations in cabins or deluxe motel style rooms, guided or unguided fishing for trophy northern pike and walleye. We have many references that will attest to the excellent fishing, food and service. Now the largest remote tourist operator in North America with fishing and hunting camps spread throughout the Moose Cree Territory, the Moose Cree Group of Companies LP portfolio has a total of 49 different camps that we bring people into, 25-30 operate typical, fleet of airplanes, pilots dock hands, which offers remote fishing and hunting opportunities to clients from across North America.
MBDC has grown to become one of the largest logging contractors in the region, largest remote tourism operations in the country, and has an experienced workforce whose pride in its work is evident in all its projects. Poulin says next on the agenda is to further diversify its core base, and is looking at opportunities in fuel. “With every opportunity, we ask, ‘can we grow that business and the overall group of companies?’ We do a lot more strategy planning and due diligence to make sure its going to fit with our portfolio,
After a slightly turbulent period, today, the corporation is managed by a team of experienced accounting, human resources, forestry operations and tourism personnel. The corporation is guided by a committed board of directors who see continued success and growth as Moose Cree Group of Companies LP builds a bright and prosperous future for the Moose Cree First Nation.