Indigenbiz Highlighting Indigenous People & Communities Engaged in Meaningful Business & Economic Development
COREY JANVIER PROVIDES JOBS TO THE HOMELESS AND PLAYGROUNDS FOR KIDS THROUGH HIS BUSINESS ENTERPRISE
by Steven McCoy
May 3, 2022
Corey Janvier is a proud member of the Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation and successful businessman whose founded eight different companies. Corey has always had an entrepreneurial drive, ever since he was a young boy growing up in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
“There is this one story my mom always gets a kick out of,” said Janvier when he talked about his early days of being an entrepreneur. “Our neighbours had a gravel driveway when I was pretty young, like 10 or 11, so I got a rock tumbler and I would go pick rocks from their driveway, tumble them, make them smooth and shiny then I’d just go door to door and sell them!” laughed Janvier.
Janvier went from polishing and selling stones from his neighbour’s driveway as a kid to spending his summers cutting lawns and his winters shovelling snow as a teenager.
“The winters are pretty brutal in Fort Mac (McMurray) so I made some pretty good money shovelling snow,” said Janvier.
Janvier was one of six brothers in his family but he was the first to start venturing into entrepreneurship as a young boy growing up in Fort McMurray, located in the middle of the Athabasca oil sands, an area originally settled by the Dene and Cree people.
When Janvier used to go back and visit his home reserve of Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation, he had many cousins and friends he visited so often that he did not have to knock before entering their home.
Although Janvier’s passions have always been as an entrepreneurial, his mother worked in prenatal and postnatal childcare which had a big influence on his career choices early on and his business inspirations later in life.
As a young adult, Janvier worked as a youth care worker before getting into social services but working in that field took its toll on Janvier so he decided to get into business and pursue entrepreneurship instead.
Janvier’s ability to connect with people and develop relationships since childhood has carried over into adulthood as Janvier considers himself a “professional visitor”.
Today, Janvier is known for dropping into people’s offices unannounced to get to know them on a deeper level that goes beyond just a voice on the phone and or some words in an email.
Janvier’s first taste in the big business sector came in the late 2000’s when he was supporting his cousin’s company in the civil construction field. He helped grow the business by attending networking events and making connections on the golf course which helped kickstart the growth of the business, which is still successfully operating today.
Around the same time, Janvier and his brother, who is skilled in graphic design and coding, developed an app together which helped employers manage their employee’s safety certification records and company equipment which they ended up selling before Janvier moved out to the west coast to help open a youth facility.
Once the youth facility was up and running, Javier was approached by a friend who owned a surveying company to help do what he does best, secure new clients and contracts. Janvier once again helped build up a company by utilizing his networking and relationship building skills.
In 2016, Janvier went on to start a new company in the welding business called SCI North with another entrepreneur where they went from doing $3 million dollars in sales the first year to $8-$9 million dollars in sales by the third year. Then the downturn in the oil and gas industry happened and Janvier’s wife secured a job with the First Nations Health Authority in Vancouver B.C., so they returned to the west coast.
Janvier’s reputation for business development kept him in high demand though. After he assisted another company grow their new division, COVID-19 spread across the globe and Janvier was presented with another business opportunity doing maintenance and cleaning office buildings in the Vancouver area. Enter Cedar Brush Site Services & Janitorial.
Even though Janvier no longer works directly in the social services field, his desire to help others has never wavered evident in Cedar Brush's hiring practices.
“It’s a social impact company so some of the individuals that work with me are coming from homelessness. I get them working one day a week doing junk removal for a non-profit organization they may have used recently.” said Janvier when describing how he gives back to his community as a businessman. “I really wanted to create a company that employed 100% Indigenous individuals and 100% Indigenous clients…that is a very good feat in supporting our Indigenous communities through training and employment.”
Janvier’s ability to understand costing for labour and staffing enabled him to grow Cedar Brush from doing $2,000 a month to over $40,000 a month. The company now employs nine individuals, three full-time, and has 11 clients from the cities of Vancouver and Squamish.
One of Janvier’s next business endeavours is called Sonode, which when translated from Dene to English means “let’s play”. Sonode, which was clearly influenced from his mother’s work in the childcare sector, will provide playground and furnishing solutions for child orientated places.
“We’re working with communities, organizations, daycares, head starts and housing associations for playground structures,” said Janvier when describing his new venture. “We do both furnishing inside and outside with play structures and equipment. I developed a relationship with Canada’s largest spray park and playground manufacturer. I gave them a pitch of what I wanted to do and we’re looking at one project right now in Saskatchewan.” Janvier hopes the first project will be completed by the end of 2022 or start of 2023.
When asked what kind of barriers Janvier faces as an Indigenous entrepreneur and business developer, he responded by saying,
“When dealing with oil and gas industry, we really get put into a bowl. They’ll say, if you’re Indigenous from this region you can only bid and work on stuff in this region so it’s really hard to bid and win projects outside of your region but non-Indigenous companies can go wherever they want and they are awarded work. That’s one barrier I find, is we get put into a bowl that’s regionalized.”
Janvier's advice to new Indigenous entrepreneurs who are just starting out is to access the available resources, tap into networking platforms like LinkedIn and look beyond your region for opportunities.
“There’s a lot of access to support as an entrepreneur out there such as CCAB, NAABA (Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association) and Community Futures. If you utilize those supports that are out there, you’ll be successful.” he said when asked about what guidance he would give to up and coming Indigenous businesspeople. “Don’t just localize yourself but look beyond the region, look nationally and even globally in nature. My career has been all across western Canada and it’s because of building relationships so I don’t say hey I am from Chip Prairie (Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation) so I can only work here. Don’t hold back and wait for things to come to you. You gotta go out and get it!”
Janvier's passion for serving the public while excelling in the business world is a shining example of what Indigenous people can achieve in the corporate world while staying true to their community roots.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steven McCoy is an Ojibwe from Garden River First Nation in Northern Ontario and life-long resident of Sault Ste. Marie. He is the founder of Indigenbiz where he publishes his journalistic work highlighting Indigenous people in business. He is also a successful businessman who specializes in communications, marketing, public relations and Indigenous liaison through another company he founded called Gencity Consulting. In addition, Steven is a skilled public speaker with a unique ability to capture the audience's attention through descriptive story telling. He is also a motivational speaker who draws upon his life experiences growing up off-reserve while overcoming poverty, abandonment and racism to achieve success.