Taba Enterprises, a First Nations-owned company in Fort St. James, has been recognized as Business of the Year by the B.C. Aboriginal Achievement Awards.
In 1993, Shawn Julian established and started managing Taba as a simple one-man operation in the forest, felling and bundling trees.
Entrepreneurial opportunities and skills training programs for First Nations communities were “few and far between” at the time, said Julian.
Fortunately, Julian had already acquired plenty of hands-on experience working for his father, Art, who founded Julian Contracting in 1975.
Starting out with just a feller buncher to harvest timber, Julian would soon acquire a grapple skidder to bundle felled trees and haul them to the road where they could be processed, loaded onto trucks and transported to area sawmills.
Gradually, Julian started offering trucking services and branching out into the construction business until Taba was doing work for Mount Milligan on a regular basis.
Taba Enterprises was incorporated in 1996 and now employs between 40 and 50 people.
“We would see a need for something that would help us diversify and that’s why we’ve expanded over the years,” said Julian.
Taba’s trucking and construction business is thriving due to rising demand in the forestry and mining sectors. The company is also involved in road building, road maintenance, silviculture and sewer and water projects.
On Nov. 26, Julian will join many other First Nations entrepreneurs from across B.C. at an award ceremony in Vancouver that will be presided over by Premier Christy Clark.
“We’re pretty humbled. It’s definitely nice to be recognized,” said Julian.
Gladys Michell, who established Selkin Logging Ltd. with her husband, Robert, in 1990, was ecstatic for both Shawn and his father.
Selkin, based in Stellat’en First Nation near Fraser Lake, was awarded as Business of the Year in 2010.
“You don’t know how happy and proud I am of them,” said Michell.
Having been in the logging and trucking business for 23 years, Michell and her husband have experienced both the ups and downs of the B.C. forestry industry. But business is booming again, she said.
“We went through some tough times, and we struggled through, and now we’re busy as ever,” said Michell, who nominated both Taba Enterprises and Julian Contracting for the 2012 Business of the Year Award.
“It kind of puts a little bit of Vanderhoof and Fort St. James on the map,” she said of the two successful businesses in Fort St. James.