If you’re taking on heavy industrial projects in the great white north, better have associates with ice water in their veins. Groupe Ceger hits the ground running on just those kinds of mega projects with unflappable support from its strategic affiliates.
“I run 4 businesses and have 4 kids so my days are fully loaded,” says Éloïse Harvey, Vice-President of corporate development at Groupe Ceger. Its affiliates also share the same corporate DNA, even if it’s not quite obvious at first glance. The integrated expertise of her 1000 employees makes a formidable combination in a highly specialized sector: mines, metals and hydro power in the undeveloped north.
A major player in Quebec’s Plan Nord, the Groupe’s Cegerco affiliate recently built two concrete storage silos at the Mont-Wright mine, and the footings and pads for the concentrator installations at the Lac Bloom mine.
On the engineering side, Cegertec made great strides in 2012 when it sold a 50% equity stake to Australian mining services giant WorleyParsons. A longstanding supplier to Hydro-Québec, Cegertec is now taking part in a $1 billion project in Labrador for miner Alderon.
The Groupe’s third wing, Mecfor, manufactures heavy equipment for harsh environments, whether for transporting molten metal or maintaining mine rail systems.
The last, Cegerdev, is the Group’s real estate arm. The company just acquired 255 Racine, Chicoutimi’s largest office building.
“Most of our customers are huge multinationals that can be very demanding. They constantly push us to come up with new ideas. Our challenge is to deliver high quality services combining creativity and innovation while never losing sight of stringent health and safety standards,” says the entrepreneur, who joined the company founded by her father after studying mechanical engineering and business administration.
To outdistance competitors, Groupe Ceger relies on two key strengths, specialization and capacity. “Companies that can cut it in the north are rare. Also, we’re able to take on huge projects that require large financial commitments.”
The approach is working as the company’s growth has accelerated over the last five years. “We’ve reached a level of maturity where we can enter into joint ventures capable of enormous undertakings. That’s helped us grow outside the region where we can land even bigger contracts,” says Harvey.
“My toughest challenge is to keep on top of the big picture,” she says. “I need to take a step back to define our objectives and establish key targets for the overall group.”
“To hit our targets we need partners that understand our business and our environment, and who are always there for us one on one. That’s especially important when it comes to banking services, like lines of credit for our affiliates, capital funding and export guarantees.”
“The advantage with National Bank is we get immediate access to decision makers without having to fly to Toronto. They’ve known us for 25 years, and they get behind our projects fast,” she explained.
“Annie, our banker in Saguenay, is an expert at putting herself in our shoes. She understands our operations and knows exactly what we’re up against. She thinks like an entrepreneur.”
Precisely the kind of attitude we need to encourage in Quebec, Harvey thinks. “We need to celebrate our SME’s successes, to help inspire young people to get in the game. Risk is destabilizing. But that’s how you build success.”
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