CREECO had formed a new business partnership with Marcel Baril Ltée to obtain 51 per cent ownership of a new construction supply distribution company.

The Cree Regional Economic Enterprise Company’s newest Entity will be known as Eeyou Distribution and under the new partnership agreement; both parties will be looking to pool their expertise in terms of the construction industry and the Northern Quebec market.

“Marcel Baril has been in the distribution of construction supplies business for 55 years and they have done business with the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee for probably 40 of those years if not more,” said Rodney Hester, Rodney Hester Business Development Coordinator at CREECO.

The head management of the new company will be comprised of two members of each party, Reggie Neposh will serve the president of this partnership, Jean-Yves Baril will be the vice-president, the treasurer will be Albert Rondel from CREECO and the secretary will be Guy Baril.

According to Hester, with Eeyou Distribution becoming a new Entity, that business too will be represented wherever CREECO is doing business whether it is in Manitoba, Alberta or Quebec.

In his opinion, this latest partnership also makes a great deal of sense for everyone as there is a tremendous amount of development in the north with the building of new homes and facilities and the development of other infrastructure so it is ideal to capitalize on this.

Once more, Hester explained that, this latest endeavor is also going to serve the Cree Nation well because the profits of this Entity, like any other, go directly to the Board of Compensation and then directly back to the communities.

There will also be a potential for other benefits for Crees as over the long term such as job creation. Over time the new company could need sales people to sell the supplies to clients in the north and should there be a requirement for in an office, a distribution center or a warehouse in one of the communities, they too would require manpower.

According to Hester, just because CREECO has formed this new company, it does not mean that Eeyou Distribution will necessarily own the market.

“It will not be a monopoly however because we are just going to be another player amongst all of the construction material suppliers out there. We are going to become one of those suppliers and we are going to compete like everyone else to offer the best prices possible. We are going to try to get the business but there is not going to be a monopoly where people or even our own companies would be obligated to purchase from this partnership,” said Hester.

What the development will however mean for the Crees is a reduction in cost in building supplies because the company will look to purchase in bulk at wholesale prices and then pass those savings will be passed on to the communities.

The formation of the Baril-CREECO partnership will also address a very specific problem that the Cree communities have faced for years, economic leakage to the south. While Hester admitted that this company will not solve a large part of the problem, it will help to a certain degree as by spending Cree dollars at Cree businesses, the money returns to the Cree Nation in one form or another.

“This is a win-win for the Crees and it is time with this kind of business to get smart and make those smart business choices that are going to turn into savings for us from wholesale prices,” said Hester.