The business arm of the English River First Nation (ERFN), Des Nedhe Development was established in 1991 to create both business and employment opportunities for members. Since its creation, Des Nedhe has grown substantially over the years and, under the leadership of the ERFN Chiefs and Councils, it has invested in established companies.
Des Nedhe’s office complex is located just south of Saskatoon on one of its urban reserves and is known by many simply as the Grasswood property. The office complex sits on 54.5 hectares (135 acres) of land which is reserve land under The Indian Act. This land is the home of the various business interests of Des Nedhe.
Des Nedhe’s three main divisions are Construction and Mining, Retail, and Real Estate. Under its very successful Construction & Mining division, Des Nedhe owns Tron Construction & Mining LP (formerly Tron Power LP).
Tron was acquired by Des Nedhe in 1997, and it is a company which is involved in the mining and construction services industry in Saskatchewan. Some of Tron’s customers are Cameco, SaskPower, and K+S Potash. Tron is the largest employer of the all the Des Nedhe companies and currently employs 82 ERFN members.
In addition to its core business operations, Tron manages the highly innovate and successful Mudjatik Thyssen Mining Joint Venture (MTM). MTM is a partnership between Thyssen Mining and a group of northern Saskatchewan First Nations. MTM is a business that provides, among other things, mine construction and operation services. MTM has been a major player in the uranium mining industry for many years, and provides substantial financial benefits for ERFN and its members.
Minetec is another important ERFN company under Des Nedhe’s Construction and Mining division. Acquired in 2009, Minetec is a full-service sales company serving mining operations in Saskatchewan. Minetec sells products to the mining industry including drill bits and steel, underground equipment and parts, and many others. Minetec is still establishing itself but has the potential to become a highly profitable business for ERFN.
Under its Retail division, ERFN’s English River Enterprises Inc. operates the Grasswood gas bar, convenience store, and car wash; the Beauval general store, gas bar, and restaurant; and the Patuanak gas bar and convenience store. In total, these operations currently have around 90 employees, many of whom are ERFN members.
Finally, the future is very, very bright for ERFN and Des Nedhe’s Real Estate division, which may ultimately become the most profitable division of ERFN’s business arm. To date, ERFN and Des Nedhe have developed approximately only 16.18 hectares (40 acres) of the 54.5 hectares (135 acres) which make up the Grasswood property, and currently have as tenants (in their ten main buildings) post-secondary, government and community organizations, mining companies, and commercial businesses.
The Grasswood property is prime real estate on the southern boundary of Saskatoon, and the relatively new senior management team at Des Nedhe has been busy developing a master site plan for the entire 54.5 hectares (135 acres) of land, and attracting major developers.
At present, each of the companies that are part of ERFN’s business development arm are operated by a Board of Directors made up of sitting ERFN Chief and Council members. Each member of the current ERFN Chief and Council sit on the Board of Directors of at least one ERFN company.
Check them out at www.desnedhe.com