Need to Know: Mitch Mercredi
Acden’s business development manager Mitch Mercredi is bringing people together
by Michael Ganley
Photograph Colton Ponto
Born and grew up in: Fort Chipewyan
Higher education: Diploma in civil engineering, NAIT
First job: Salesman for Forzani Sporting Goods, in Grade 10
Mitch Mercredi is the business development manager for Acden, the business arm of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. He grew up in Fort Chipewyan, where his father had car and Ski-Doo dealerships. His father also built the ice road every year between Fort Chipewyan and the Peter Lougheed Bridge, better known as the Bridge to Nowhere (north of Fort MacKay). He is married with two young children, and is also the president of the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association.
Mercredi’s family moved to Fort McMurray when he was in Grade 10 because his father’s Fort Chipewyan-based businesses were in decline but his ice-road-building skills were in demand further south. “He started getting contracts with oil sands companies,” Mercredi says. “It was a better business.” After earning his diploma from NAIT, he worked for Syncrude in a variety of positions for six years before rejoining his father in his ventures, Lakeshore Helicopters and Lakeshore Contracting. He joined Acden just last October.
There are 18 companies in the Acden group, employing more than 3,000 people. The company’s motto is “from trees up to trees up.” “We can go in right at the beginning and do an environmental assessment,” Mercredi says. “Once operations are up we get into the maintenance side of it, and we have several companies that can help with reclamation.” He says that final step can happen. “We want to reclaim,” he says. “What better people than my people to be the ones who reclaim it.”
Aside from building Acden’s various businesses, Mercredi will continue to serve as the president of the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association. “The organization started many years ago because aboriginal companies in Wood Buffalo were having a hard time getting work with industry,” Mercredi says. “They knew how to work, but they didn’t know who to talk to.” NAABA serves like a chamber of commerce for the 100-plus aboriginal-owned member companies and the 150 non-aboriginal-owned ones. “We connect people together,” he says. He also plans to make the time to earn his MBA through Athabasca University.