Ferus Industrial Contracting

Métis Contractor Take Sudbury by Storm

Ideally located in Sudbury, Northern Ontario’s mining hub, is Ferus Industrial Contracting. This multi-purpose industrial contractor focused on plant building, specializing in pulp and paper, mineral processing and smelting plants, has had a busy year. It is also a 100 per cent Métis owned and operated business. This month The Canadian Business Journal spoke with president and founder Dan Boulard about starting the business and its recent run of success.

Boulard grew up in a rural area, and was familiar with the arena in which he would eventually enter into business. He is a civil engineer technician, journeyman, and ironworker, who grew through the ranks working on the tools, became a superintendent, and then got into project management. The eventual leap into business for himself was a natural progression. “I worked with contractors for the last 28 years,  and then decided it was time to start my own,” he says.

It was a smart move. In the short 18 months the company has been open, it has enjoyed considerable success, and been a part of some major projects. “We’re part of building a $45 million Mohawk contract,” says Boulard. “We’re managing a contract worth $20 million in our second year of business.”

Ferus Industrial Contractors are multidisciplinary contractors. “We self-perform all ironwork, and the other stuff we sub-contract out,” Boulard explains. “We primarily service the industrial resource sector — which means we build, service and maintain things for anybody processing minerals underground.” This can include construction, refurbishing, installation and maintenance of tanks, bins, hoppers, industrial buildings, and pumps, to name a few.

Taking Pride in Métis Roots

Being an aboriginal company is a point of pride for the president and founder. Ferus Industrial Contacting is registered with the Government of Ontario as an aboriginal business, which creates important work hours for the community. “In our first year of business we created 28,000 man hours of work, this year we’ll create 35,000 to 50,000 hours,” says Boulard. Right now the company has about 20 employees, but that goes up and down depending on the current ongoing contracts, which it fulfills by hiring out of the local union halls.

Positive Outlook in Sudbury

Ferus Industrial Contracting works primarily out of Sudbury, but will go wherever the work takes it. Fortunately, things in Sudbury have been busy enough to keep Boulard and his workers there. “We have a low overhead to operate, which is great. Plus, here in Sudbury with the mining industry it is very busy. There are a lot of big projects happening. Vale is spending billions on their plant; Xstrata is spending all kinds of money renovating theirs; companies are spending money in the region.” This of course has a direct relation to contracting work, and Boulard feels the outlook is also positive. “For the next five years–provided mineral prices stay where they are–things should be very good. It’s not hard to find work in Sudbury.”

Projects of Interest

Ferus Industrial Contracting is especially thrilled to be involved in the large scale Mohawk Garnet Processing Plant, which is $45 million project. “We tendered out the civil portion and we self-perform the erection of a 20,000 square foot garnet plant, as well as a 70,000 square foot dry garnet processing plant,” Boulard explains. How did a relatively new company get the bid for such a large scale project? It is likely due to the reputation it has have garnered for itself in the region from other successful contracts.

Ferus Industrial Contracting has become known for its successfully completed projects. For example, its involvement in USW Local 6500 upgrades, for which Ferus Industrial Contracting saved the client close to 30 per cent in costs. “We did phases 2, 3 and 4 of the project, which was some structural modifications inside their building. We teamed up with a local engineer and did the supporting tresses and turned their hall into a function hall. This eliminated six columns in the building, and they now rent out this hall for events.” Ferus Industrial Contracting also built their kitchen, all the civil renovations, and the drywall.

Another project of pride was the 2011 Domtar shutdown. This was a pulp and paper plant in Espanola, and Ferus Industrial Contracting was responsible for rebuilding their steam turbine. “A steam turbine is a big piece of equipment and we took it all apart and put it back together again,” says Boulard, who notes the project’s successful timelines. “A contractor took a month to do it a few years back, and we did it in 12 days, so we were working around the clock.”

Staying Competitive

It’s that kind of attitude that has kept Ferus Industrial Contracting busy in a competitive industry. “Competition is always fierce,” says Boulard. “Even though we’re busy, what makes us better is that we approach a job as a team and we work with the client to save them money.  We always look for cost saving opportunities.”

"We’re a new company starting out so therefore we have to pay special attention to our clients.  We’re building the foundation of our company. We need a good reputation to carry on — and we care.”