Julien Plourde wins BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for Yukon
WHITEHORSE, Oct. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Hooked on automation, controls and robotics from an early age, Julien Plourde, 27, has engineered a promising future helping public utilities and other large organizations in Canada's North operate more efficiently. In less than three years, his Technical Solutions Company has attracted a growing clientele, firmly establishing itself as the region's local provider of customized, high-tech solutions. For his success, Julien has won BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for Yukon and will be honoured tonight at a ceremony in Ottawa.
Julien honed his skills while participating in competitions across Canada throughout his high school years. While studying electrical engineering at the University of Waterloo, the Hearst, Ontario, native pursued a dream of working in Canada's North and accepted an undergraduate co-op placement in Whitehorse. Looking for full-time opportunities after graduation, he accepted a short-term contract for a project in Yukon. "Once the work was completed, I decided to stay in Whitehorse, and it grew into the business I'm operating today."
Working with telecommunications companies, public utilities and some mining businesses, as well as a few clients from Ontario and British Columbia, the business has grown from a one-man operation to a team of five. Their competition includes larger companies, mainly based in Western Canada. "Most of them are more focused-whether on installation or on software development. We cover a much broader scope and offer a total solution, combining product development with system deployment and ongoing support."
Flexible approach enables growth
Knowing that demand in the region would be more limited than in other parts of Canada, Julien adopted flexibility as a key growth strategy. "Our collaborative approach enables employees to make the most of their knowledge, discussing challenges and ideas and participating in each other's projects. It also facilitates cross-training. Team members are able to adapt quickly to new opportunities." Their success has helped convince potential clients that the quality of work they can get in Yukon is equal, if not superior, to that provided by suppliers in larger markets. "I'm proud to have really earned their trust. Clients understand what we're capable of, so they bring us their most challenging projects. And that's very rewarding, for me and all our employees."
To attract candidates willing to work in Yukon, the company has gone out of its way to recruit students from across Canada. Its student program allows young people to come up to Yukon for four-month terms, with all travel expenses paid. "So far, the response has been great. We have a similar program to recruit full-time employees from across the country."
Involved in various non-profit organizations over the last 15 years, Julien now dedicates a lot of time to his role as a Yukon board member for Skills Canada, the organization responsible for the nationwide trade competitions he took part in. He is proud to have made the transition from competing to donating his time to the organization, and his efforts help enable Yukon students to develop their interests in skilled trades and technology early.
"Julien created his own business by putting his passion and high-tech know-how to good use. He identified an opportunity to bring cutting-edge technical solutions to Canada's territories and successfully attracted a steady, growing clientele," says BDC President and CEO Jean-René Halde.
With the goal of becoming a recognized electronic systems leader in the North, the company ultimately plans to offer its services outside Yukon. For the last year and a half, Technical Solutions has rented office space. "We're now in the process of purchasing our own space, which will be available early in 2010-that's our next step."
Recognition for young leaders
A major feature of Small Business Week, BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards recognize the entrepreneurial spirit and the business and leadership accomplishments of Canadians between the ages of 19 and 35. Winners are selected by panels of business people from across the country who consider the originality of the business concept, success, growth potential and social involvement. They also take into account the entrepreneur's age when the business was started and any special challenges that were overcome.
2009 YEA and Small Business Week partners
Platinum partners of the 2009 Young Entrepreneur Awards and Small Business Week are Deloitte and Export Development Canada. Gold partners are Borden Ladner Gervais, and Maclean's.
BDC is Canada's business development bank. From more than 100 offices across the country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing, venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs. Visit www.bdc.ca for more information..
Small Business Week is a registered trademark of BDC.
SOURCE Business Development Bank of Canada
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