Sep 13, 2018
By James Oloo, Brendon Demerais and Brenda Klassen
This month we caught up with Dean Gauthier, a former client and now employer partner of the Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI) Training and Employment, to find out how he has been doing since completing his apprenticeship training at the GDI Indigenous Apprenticeship Program. Dean is a Métis journeyperson and entrepreneur from Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. He recently acquired Meadow Lake Truck and Trailer Ltd.
Dean participated, as an apprentice, in the GDI Aboriginal Apprenticeship Initiative under the original Skills and Partnership Fund (2011-2014). He heard about the GDI Training & Employment from friends at the University of Saskatchewan, where he was also on the volleyball team. He then visited GDI Training & Employment soon after that and met with Employment Counsellor Brenda Klassen.
From when he was a young boy, Dean knew he liked trades-related activities. However, he was not sure what exactly he wanted to do. He noted that, “Brenda helped me a lot by introducing me to programs offered by the GDI Training & Employment. She gave me very useful information and answered my questions regarding eligibility, application process, and funding opportunities, as well as strategies that could help me succeed.” Dean stated that he was open to learning, and that made him ask many questions. “This pushed me even more to work hard and get as much help as possible.”
As many of us know, school can be challenging sometimes especially when there are life/family pressures. So, how did Dean keep motivated and working towards his goal? His answer is brief and simple: “My wife deserves most of the credit; without her I wouldn’t have gone this far with my training, and now as a business owner and employer.”
When asked what his typical day looks like, Dean said, “Each day is always different. We set up jobs for each of our mechanics daily. I am mainly in the office doing paper work, answering phone calls, ordering parts, making work orders to send out to our customers.” He noted that he is happy to have a good team that does excellent work.
As the owner and manager of the Meadow Lake Truck and Trailer Ltd, Dean has seven employees and took a summer student this year through a partnership with the GDI Training & Employment. Dean says “There is so much to learn in this trade, I found that you never stop learning, and with technology advancing almost every day, you have to make time to read. You need to have knowledge of the industry and changes that are happening.”
Dean enjoys the challenges and opportunities that come with being a business owner. “I am my own boss, I like flexible hours of work, and I am thankful for my mechanic Willy. He basically takes over if I need to be somewhere for a meeting.”
“My goal is to employ as many Métis and First Nations people as I can. I would also like to expand my business and set up another shop back home in Beauval and provide services for the North.”
Dean counts hard work, persistence, and interpersonal skills as some of his strategies for success. “I wasn’t afraid of paper work. I kept applying for grants; many of the funding applications did not go through. However, out of the many grants I applied for, I would get one. I also travelled to different locations to meet with banks to get a loan. Instead of phone calls and application, I figured if they meet me in person it would make a difference.”
Given his experience with the GDI Indigenous Apprenticeship program, Dean was asked his suggestions on how to improve the program. He stated that he “would like to see more trades-related pre-employment programs, to give high school students or even adults a chance to see if this type of work is for them.”
Over the years, Dumont Technical Institute, in partnership with the GDI Training & Employment, has been offering pre-employment trades programs to its students with the knowledge and skills they need as they enter the workforce or become an apprentice. Pre-employment programs have been offered in carpentry, scaffolding, electrical and welding programs.
Dean has an advice for Métis who are interested in a career in the trades, any line of work or who are thinking of going back to schooling: “head down to the local Gabriel Dumont Institute office and speak with them. They have a lot to offer.”
Dean attended the University of Saskatchewan for one year. He then joined the GDI Training & Employment Indigenous Apprenticeship Program as an apprentice Heavy Duty Equipment Technician where he was placed with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways. In 2012, Dean completed his training and earned his journeyperson certification.
Dean worked for the previous owners of Meadow Lake Truck and Trailer Ltd. When the business was up for sale he saw an opportunity and acquired it.
In 2018, GDI received funding from Employment and Social Development Canada for its new Pathways for Entrepreneurship initiative. Dean has accessed the professional business plan reimbursement, and accomplished milestones towards business start-up. These milestone achievements provide up to $1500 in incentives. Dean is also accessing a self-employment transition allowance. This allowance assists new entrepreneurs with the transition from regular employment to operating their own business. Dean has also been matched with a business mentor to provide opportunities for further networking and support.
Dean is currently working with GDI to access training to help him streamline his business operations, provide training to his staff, and access funding for professional services supports. We look forward to working with Dean to ensure that his business is a strong success in the Métis community.