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GSH Partner Dehcho Regional Helicopters Builds On Their Success

Dehcho Regional Helicopters looks to reinvest its profits

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, April 18, 2013

A successful Deh Cho company is gathering input on how to reinvest its profits into its business and the region.

NNSL photo/graphic

Dennis Deneron, Sambaa K’e Dene Band’s member on the Dehcho Regional Helicopters’ board, acts as a translator during community consultations in Trout Lake April 11. – Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

Dehcho Regional Helicopters Ltd. Partnership has been holding consultations with all seven aboriginal groups that are partners in it.

The meetings began with the Nahanni Butte Dene Band in November and concluded with the Pehdzeh Ki First Nation on April 12. The other members of the company include the First Nations in Trout Lake, Jean Marie River, Fort Liard and Fort Simpson and the Fort Simpson Metis Nation.

The company’s board, comprised of one member from each aboriginal group, decided late last spring to gather input on how to reinvest the company’s profits, said John Curran, a consultant for Dehcho Regional Helicopters.

“They know they have a really successful company here,” he said.

Dehcho Regional Helicopters was formed in 2004. In 2006 the company purchased a $1.7-million AS350 B2 helicopter that arrived in 2008. The company has a long-term operational marketing and leasing agreement with Great Slave Helicopters Ltd. for the helicopter.

The company celebrated another success in 2011 when it was awarded a five-year contract with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources valued at more than $2 million. The annual net earnings of Dehcho Regional Helicopters have steadily increased, Curran said.

In 2008, the year the helicopter arrived, the company had a total profit of $125,000. Last year Dehcho Regional Helicopters had a net profit of $458,000 and had a business valuation of $2,224,436.

The company also has a fixed-wing division through a joint-venture with Air Tindi called Dehcho Airways. That agreement was updated in February 2012.

Through the consultations the board is gathering input on a regional human resource strategy that will help create jobs related to the aviation industry in the region. The strategy will also help local youth build careers and assist in the development of a regional marketing strategy to keep the partners informed about what the company is doing and the benefits that are available to members, said Curran.

The company is also conducting a future investment feasibility study to examine possible future purchases such as a second helicopter or an airplane.

The Fort Simpson Metis Nation, one of the founding members of the partnership that created Dehcho Regional Helicopters, has been pleased with the company’s performance so far, said Marie Lafferty, the president of the Fort Simpson Metis Nation .

“It’s a good partnership,” she said. “It’s been very profitable.”

In January, the Metis Nation used a $2,000 grant from the business to support a trip for Fort Simpson soccer teams to the Polar Cup in Edmonton. Through the agreement with Great Slave Helicopters Ltd., each partner aboriginal group in Dehcho Regional Helicopters is entitled annually to a $2,000 grant for youth infrastructure, a $1,000 grant for women’s wellness initiatives and $3,000 to help beneficiaries become aircraft maintenance engineers. The joint venture with Air Tindi allows for similar regional grants along with a scholarship that is being established.

Chief Dolphus Jumbo of the Sambaa K’e Dene Band in Trout Lake said he’s also been pleased with the helicopter side of the company.

Every time a helicopter flies in the region, the community wants it to be a Great Slave Helicopter or Dehcho Regional Helicopter machine, he said.

“We’ve got good benefits,” said Jumbo.

During the community consultation in Trout Lake on April 11, Jumbo said he’d like to see some changes to the joint-venture with Air Tindi.

Jumbo would like the agreement to help lower the cost of living in the community by providing discounted flights for the transportation of people and groceries.

“Out here the cost of living is high in Trout Lake,” he said.

All of the input provided during the community consultations will be used to form the draft strategies for the board to consider, Curran said.