Two remarkable Indigenous-owned companies. Bold growth plans. And a certainty that the heartbeat of the new prairie economy runs through Saskatchewan’s Queen City.
Their success is born of a quiet confidence built upon strong relationships, nimble business plans and an unshakable belief in Regina’s business climate.
Regina’s Pro Metal Industries (PMI), a subsidiary of the Pasqua First Nations (PFN) group of companies, has tripled its workforce to 35 employees, with a five-year plan growing to 125 staff. PMI will move to a new 50,000 square foot industrial facility in 2024, following the recent opening of a 7,000 square foot powder-coating facility, bringing back work previously outsourced elsewhere.
“Regina’s proximity to highway #1 is superb for logistics. The Global Transportation Hub continues to attract new businesses,” Mark Brown, Chief Operating Officer of PFN, says.
“Everything that goes on between the mines, oil and gas and agriculture are all really centred in Regina.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Terry Tessier, president and CEO of Flyer Electric, a First Nations owned company and one of Saskatchewan’s fastest-growing electrical contractors. Flyer’s Regina office, opened in 2016, is now home to some three dozen permanent jobs, including administration staff, key electricians, foreman project managers and Flyer’s vice president of operations.
“The amount of project work that has been announced already for the next five years is massive,” says Tessier. “I’m very positive for the future of the province,” he adds citing a “deep pool of talent.”
PMI, which has grown into sizable contractor for armoured vehicle parts for both the Canadian and American military, sees Regina’s demographics as providing a unique competitive advantage.
“There’s also an untapped labour market with First Nations and Indigenous people, the fastest growing population in Saskatchewan. We’re very willing, eager and excited to train people for the trades,” said Brown, while lauding the capabilities of his current staff.
A tour of the spacious shop floor at PMI shows off its advanced technology and capacity for laser, plasma and waterjet cutting as well as machining. Alongside exactingly cut military parts, you can find fabrication work for the agricultural and commercial industries, alongside some truly unique products, such as custom firepits, garden gnomes and strikingly beautiful red and black window encasements for a supportive housing unit scheduled to open in late summer in Regina.
Flyer’s commercial and industrial clients are similarly diverse and impressive. In addition to project work for Areva, Cameco, Mosaic, SaskPower and PCS (now Nutrien), Flyer has worked on many infrastructure projects for municipalities and First Nations across Saskatchewan, including a solar project for Fond Du Lac First Nation.
Tessier, who rose from the ranks as journeyman electrician to become President of Flyer, takes pride in the fact the Flyer team of project managers, site leaders and senior leaders are engaged in every project, regardless of size. Strong relationships are key.
“If you do good solid work for companies, and you treat your employees and suppliers well, that reputation gets around,” Tessier says. “Saskatchewan is a small province, almost like a city really, and word travels fast. That’s a great advantage of being here. People seek us out quite often.”
Brown similarly is focussed on in ensuring that PMI is a “great employer and a great company” with a “fun and engaging” workplace.
“It’s also about working for a 100 per cent owned First Nations company. You know the benefits are going back to the 2,500 band members. That’s really special and that’s what drives me every day.”
These companies will be “driving” Regina’s and Saskatchewan’s growth for years to come.