Reimagining how Indigenous business creates value

Trent Fequet talks about how Steel River Group has evolved and grown in just two short years, despite tough economic conditions

Trent Fequet is president and CEO of Steel River Group.

 Trent Fequet

What’s Steel River Group and what does it do? What’s its history?

Fequet: Steel River Group is a privately-held and Indigenous-owned-and-operated company. Born out of the deep belief that we need to reimagine how an Indigenous business can create and contribute value to their community, while also ensuring revenue for their investors.

As a management entity, Steel River Group supports subsidiary companies that specialize in general contracting, construction management, water management and equipment leasing and operating.

The Steel River approach is built on an Indigenous ecosystem model, connecting Steel River businesses, Indigenous communities and alliance partners. Together, the network reviews and pursues opportunities, offering our customers and partners a turnkey approach that aims to support their long-term capacity and competency.

Who typically are your clients?

Fequet: Steel River Group supports a wide range of clients, primarily in the heavy industrial construction sector. Currently our primary focus is a 65-km section of Tidewater Midstream and Infrastructure’s Pioneer Natural Gas Pipeline construction project. Steel River is proud to have secured this major project in just our first year of operation.

Additionally, Steel River Solutions &  Steel River Water continue to pursue opportunities directly with resource and midstream operators. Most recently Steel River has been retained for an upcoming project with the municipality of Wood Buffalo (Alberta) managing the mechanical work associated with technical crossings.

Tell me about your partnership with Fire & Flood Emergency Services and what that means for the company?

Fequet: Steel River Group is pleased to have partnered with Fire & Flood Emergency Services Canada. As the exclusive Canada-wide dealer and distributor of their unique mass water deployment system, we offer cutting-edge technology that ensures the most efficient deployment of equipment over any terrain.

Fire & Flood Services also provides tools for dealing with fires and floods in remote, difficult-to-access locations.

Our partnership with Fire & Flood Services is a natural fit; as an Indigenous-owned company, we feel a strong sense of responsibility to protect and preserve the land and its people.

Steel River Group recommends this technology for major industrial, infrastructure and pipeline projects. Additionally, communities in remote locations where services are lacking, or absent entirely, can use our solution to protect themselves against fires and floods.

What are the advantages and the disadvantages of being an Indigenous-owned company?

Fequet: As an Indigenous-owned company, we view our opportunity to create employment and training opportunities in our communities a great privilege. While many companies, across industries, have evolved in their approach to enabling Indigenous participation and inclusion in their projects, there remains a steep learning curve around cultural practices and stereotypes.

At Steel River Group, we take the responsibility of supporting our people and respecting our heritage seriously, and we hope that our industry partners will see value in doing the same.

How has business been in the last few years considering the tough economic challenges?

Fequet: Steel River Group was founded just over two years ago, born into a challenging economic environment. We persevered and have continued to grow despite the tough road.

In some ways, starting the company at a tough time has proven an advantage; we have been fortunate to avoid cuts and layoffs, allowing our employees to remain confident and enthusiastic about our fast-growing company.

Steel River was fortunate to establish ourselves with a secure operational agreement with Backwoods Energy Services, a partnership that ultimately resulted in our now 30 per cent stake in Backwoods.

We have continually evolved, creating a pipeline division, a general contracting division and most recently delving into water and midstream operations. We are pleased to have taken on our most recent project with Tidewater Midstream and Infrastructure’s Pioneer Natural Gas Pipeline construction project.

We anticipate that economic challenges will always be an underlying factor to consider, but we are confident that as we progress, we will continue to offer a strong value proposition through our Indigenous ecosystem.

Our model of Indigenous inclusion will remain a defining principal and unique value proposition across industry.

– Mario Toneguzzi for Troy Media


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