Heading: CreeWest looks south for joint ventures

For once, Barrie is considered south! Torontonians speak of Barrie as if we’re at the north pole. But CreeWest is centred in Moose Factory and for its CEO Ron Basaraba, Barrie is very, very south.

Ron Basaraba and CreeWest GP and CreeWest Air are open to doing business in the north with businesses from the ‘south’ to everyone’s mutual benefit. I met Ron at the November business awards and was fascinated with the CreeWest concept.

Turns out, the concept has broad opportunity.

If you’re in the transportation, logistics, people moving businesses you might want to look at CreeWest.If you’re in the catering business, there’s opportunity, too. Janitorial, uniform supply, health care… all kinds of services are needed in projects on the five reserve lands that comprise CreeWest. And this partnership is the the connecting link between operations in the north and services from outside.

Ron explains it this way. The DeBeers diamond mine at Attawapiskat Reserve needs all kinds of services… transportation, food, health care. Those services,  if they can be provided from First Nations communities, will be purchased there first. But, if they can’t, mines like DeBeers look south.

CreeWest pulls that all together, looking at proposals, and working with successful bidders to interface between the south and projects in native communities.

Ron is comfortable living and working in both worlds, the world of the first nations reserves and its very definite negotiation and business style, and the higher pressure, greater speed expectations of businesses in the ‘south.’ There’s money to be made, jobs to be had and Ron wants Barrie area businesses to be sure they know this opportunity.

“We go into joint ventures to provide trucking services. We were awarded the air transportation contract to move people and equipment from Timmins to the mine,” says Ron. While CreeWest Air doesn’t have its own aircraft, it does partner with providers in joint ventures to fulfill these contracts.  CreeWest holds the subcontracts for Air Creebec, a substantial regional transportation company.

“Any other regional air business can approach CreeWest for the contract when it comes up in 2014,” says Ron.

CreeWest has teamed up with Air Bravo, operating out of Lake Simcoe Regional Airport, to provide emergency air transportation for medical personnel and organs for transplant purposes. The organ donation service, operated by the Ministry of Health, demands fast response to accidents causing death where organs can be harvested, transported and transplanted in very tight time frames. The CreeWest Air Beechcraft King will be much busier in this part of Ontario than restricting itself to the north. Its new operator, Air Bravo, is the largest air ambulance operator with ORNGE.

Ron explains CreeWest has a substantial joint venture with a restoration company. There are many companies like this in the Barrie region… Paul’s Restoration, RF Construction, WinMar…who respond after emergencies to restore and rebuild homes, offices, commercial and institutional locations.  “Having a contract with a restoration company really helps a First Nations community move forward after a disaster,” says Ron. Lots of disasters happen in remote communities.

Basically CreeWest promotes you, markets you, connects you and earns a portion of the value of the contract in return for its work.

The Executive Director of CreeWest identifies many types of businesses that could benefit from these contracts: residential & institutional construction companies, computer IT, motor coach, safety products, slip and fall prevention, mining safety programs, emergency services, private career educators, security businesses.  The potential is huge.

CreeWest is also open to suggestions for joint ventures from business owners.

With a background in air transportation and ground services almost entirely in first nations communities, Ron Basaraba felt the CreeWest leadership was a natural fit for him.  “CreeWest could just sit back and collect money but I feel it’s more than just air transportation.  I see potential growth that can embraces many types of companies.”

To this end, Ron has joined the Barrie Chamber of Commerce, set up a Barrie office inside Air Bravo at 135 Bayfield St., and is opening to door to dealing with five First Nations regions in the north.  Consider Ron the face of CreeWest in this area.

Interested?  It sounds like great opportunity to me.  ron.basaraba@creewest.ca

Thanks, Ron.