We connected with contractor Jordan Jolicoeur (middle) of Stony Plain, Alberta to talk about his experiences working with Kinder Morgan Canada and the importance of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. Jordan, whose family home growing up was alongside the Trans Mountain Pipeline right-of-way, is president and CEO of Carvel Electric Ltd. Carvel Electric is a Metis-owned electrical company that has carried out numerous electrical maintenance contracts for Trans Mountain Pipeline.

Carvel Electric was recently nominated as a finalist for the “Eagle Feather Award of Distinction” through the Alberta Business Awards of Distinction.

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Tell us about your business

Our head office is located only a half-kilometre from Trans Mountain’s Stony Plain pump station. I’m a journeyman electrician. I’ve been in the trade my entire life and I come from an entrepreneurial family. Our dad started Carvel Electric when we were really young. Working evenings and weekends, my brother Joel and I grew up helping Dad run the small family business.

In 2013 Joel and I took over Carvel Electric and set out to create our own path for the company. We had a vision to build on our core values as a respected, reliable family company coupled with a progressive and forward-thinking Aboriginal enterprise. Our drive to succeed and make a name for ourselves landed us more great clients and eventually Kinder Morgan Canada (KMC). Our company has continued to grow throughout the downturn in Alberta’s economy and today we have seven employees — most are Metis Nation of Alberta members. Carvel Electric has a goal to be a proud and professional Aboriginal company and one that is a leader in Aboriginal employment and skills development.

When did you first connect with Trans Mountain Pipeline?

We’ve been around this pipeline our entire lives. We grew up west of Stony Plain near Paul First Nation in a little town, a hamlet called Duffield. The Trans Mountain Pipeline ran right past the house where I grew up.

The cutline (right-of-way) for the pipeline was the shortcut to my best friend’s house, so essentially I grew up on the pipeline. This cutline was our BMX track and also a place to hunt rabbits and grouse. We also fished in the lake that borders the cutline. I remember when we learned there was a pipeline that ran under our bike trail, we laid on the ground to find out if we could hear the flow of the oil.

How did you get started contracting with Kinder Morgan Canada?

I met one of KMC’s pipeline operators who informed me the company was looking for a quote from a local electrical company for a small project at the Gainford Pump Station. The operator introduced me to his supervisor so I could provide a quote. We were already working quite a lot with some of the largest railroads in North America so it was easy for us to meet the pre-qualifications to work with KMC.

How did that first job work out?

Every week we are winning a small maintenance project or a small construction project. We are winning those jobs because we are competitive with other electrical companies — and not just because we are an Aboriginal company.

The great thing about working for KMC is that it’s actually local work. Clients like these are ones you can grow a company around while raising a family in the community where you work.

What’s it like to work with Kinder Morgan Canada personnel?

Everyone at Carvel Electric enjoys working at the KMC sites. Communication between our company and Kinder Morgan is excellent. All of its operators are well educated on the work that needs to be done and start dates and times are reliably planned ahead. As the president of Carvel, I feel at ease knowing when I send my crew out to a KMC site, we are working for a company that puts safety and quality of work before anything else.

The personnel in KMC operations take a lot of ownership of the pump stations. There is always someone who can answer a question about how to complete a project without putting anyone or any equipment at risk. I personally take a lot of pride in saying that Kinder Morgan Canada is one of our clients.

Why is the Project positive for business?

Tripling the capacity of the Trans Mountain Pipeline creates a lot of long-term opportunities for maintenance work along the entire route. They’re creating jobs for tens of years to come. For our company, for instance, our goal is to hire more Aboriginal people and I think the Project will help us do that. A large project such as this can bring a lot of full-time employment to the Aboriginal community.

And it’s beneficial for Alberta and Canada as a whole. Our oil reserves are effectively landlocked. Without new pipeline to move the product to market, how will Canada’s energy industry grow?