Indigenous participation in the Saskatchewan economy has been held back for generations, but that is changing—and changing quickly. One of the players creating economic prosperity for First Nations is Saskatoon’s STC Industrial Group.
Growth and change
In 2017 the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) made a new commitment to economic development for their communities by creating STC Industrial Contracting (STCIC), a 100 per cent Indigenous-owned industrial contracting business. After earlier partnership ventures didn’t align with STC’s vision, they shifted their focus to supporting the long-standing client relationships they had in Saskatchewan and STCIC was created. STCIC was the first business in the now ever-growing STC Industrial Group of companies.
This move represented a significant turning point for STC as they embarked on a new path, with a renewed emphasis on doing what they did best for their many long-time, local client partners. “We refocused our efforts in 2017 by departing from earlier joint ventures and focusing our efforts here at home in Saskatchewan, and doing so as a 100 per cent First Nations owned business,” says Shaun Howdle, STC Industrial Group’s CEO. “Our Tribal Council has many long-term relationships within the Saskatchewan business community, so it made sense to focus our efforts on those partners like SaskPower, Nutrien and more.”
In the five years since the transition, the company has achieved many milestones, one of which was the acquisition of Keys Welding Service (KWS) in April of 2020—a long-time Saskatoon business that helped to round out STC Industrial’s service offerings. “The addition of KWS to our company added that internal capacity we always wanted, and really raised the bar on our services to our clientele,” says Howdle.
KWS was founded in 2008 by Mike Keys and the company had worked for STC Industrial as a subcontractor prior to the acquisition in 2020. “We had a great relationship from the start, our business fit well with what STCIC was doing,” says Keys. The team at KWS has become an integral part of the STC Industrial Group and are accelerating the group’s growth plans.
In 2022 STC Industrial Group continues to look to the future. With expansion plans underway for the KWS facility, and the addition of new service offerings to the market, the future is bright for an ever-expanding portfolio.
Building on the ideals of self-sustainability, the STC Industrial Group focuses on the self-execution of their work, to minimize the reliance on outside partners. For example, they hold all their own provincial licenses and certifications, and directly employ a skilled workforce. Additionally, the company is known for its safe work practices and the excellent safety record that has been proudly built over the last five years.
Building business and people
STC Industrial Group has grown from their humble beginnings of just two employees in 2017, to now more than 70 employees and counting. Early in 2022 they hit the milestone of over 100,000 hours worked by their Indigenous employees, a number that is growing faster with each passing month. STC Industrial is proudly building a workforce where over 60 per cent of their Indigenous team members are working in a certified trades career and on the path to journeyperson certification. “We look to develop life-long careers here, not just the next pay cheque,” says Howdle.
The company works with groups like SIIT and Sask Polytech to identify and train new entrants into the trades and their clients very much support these training initiatives. “By working with our client partners, we have been able to secure multi-year agreements that have allowed us to develop sustainable ‘hands on’ training programs. A new employee can start off on the more basic tasks and work to develop their skills over time and continue to progress their training,” says Howdle. “It’s been an excellent way to introduce people to our work and the trades, and build skills that can lead to good, long-term employment.”
The Truth & Reconciliation Call to Action 92 calls upon the corporate sector in Canada to meaningfully consult and engage with Indigenous groups; which is something that the STC Industrial Group looks to their partners to
commit to. They don’t just ask this from their clients though, they lead the way themselves within their own business choices. “We very much believe in a ‘walk the talk’ commitment when it comes to our own supply chain
decisions. So, a major part of our supply chain philosophy is based on investing in Indigenous people and businesses to benefit the greater workforce, our communities, and our suppliers,” says Howdle. “We continuously look to partner with other Indigenous businesses to advance economic prosperity for all Indigenous people and communities. When we work together, we all do better.”
STC Industrial Group provides:
- Industrial construction
- Maintenance & site services
- Custom fabrication
- Structural steel
- Pressure piping
- Pile manufacturing
Learn more about STC Industrial Group at stcigroup.ca.