FERUS Industrial has secured millions in contracts since it opened in January 2011
Dan Boulard summarizes his business philosophy this way: treat your workers well; build your reputation on each job; work safely; make money, but don’t make maximizing profit your main goal.
The simple approach has worked wonders for Boulard and his company, FERUS Industrial Contracting. Since its inception in January 2011, FERUS has safely completed several major projects, each bigger than the last. In the 19 months or so since they opened, FERUS has done work for Steelworkers Local 6500, Xstrata, Vale, Domtar, Lakeshore Gold and Mohawk Garnet.
In fact, the business is the lead contractor for a $45-million project with Mohawk – not bad for a company that didn’t exist two years ago.
“It’s exciting,” Boulard said Aug. 22, the day his company received $234,000 from the province to create 31 new jobs in the next three years. “We’re having fun and we’re happy. Our employees are happy along with us. And we try to maintain that.”
FERUS is a general contracting company that specializes in project management, new construction and rebuilding industrial equipment for the mining, pulp and paper and hydro industries.
Boulard, who is Metis, grew up in Blezard Valley. He is a civil engineer technician and a journeyman iron worker, who worked his way up to become a project manager on major projects.
“I’ve been in the industry for 28 years, always working for someone else,” he said. “It came to a point where I said I wanted to do it for myself, with a business plan I created.”
Boulard said he’s proud of the repeat business FERUS is attracting, as well as the company’s perfect safety record.
“We are an integrity company,” he said. “We want to be compensated fairly, but we also want to give the client value for their dollars. We don’t operate with big profit margins, but we want to help people, and we want to help our clients.”
Currently, FERUS has 15 workers at job sites, and another five working out of the company’s headquarters in Hanmer. Funding from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund will allow them to add another 31 workers – including at least 10 this year, probably more.
The funding will allow FERUS to move to Phase 2 of its business plan. If Phase 1 was aimed at securing contracts and establishing the company’s reputation, Phase 2 involves getting contracts to service and maintain some of the buildings and equipment they have built or installed for their clients.
The company hit the ground running last year when it secured a contract from Steelworkers Local 6500 for much of the steel work for the union’s Brady Street hall.
Rick Bertrand, president of Local 6500, said he knew Boulard personally before the union did business with him.
“If we did it all over again, Dan would build the whole place,” Bertrand said.
“We’re very happy with all the work he’s done. It was his first contract and I’m very happy that Dan was able to pick up more jobs because of the work he has done for us.”
FERUS is unique, Bertrand said, because Boulard places equal emphasis on doing a good job, making money, working safely and paying his staff fairly.
“He’s just an incredible person who really believes in doing a good job -- and in helping others … He’s happy making a smaller profit margin if he’s creating good paying jobs. We need more people like Dan in the North.”
Sudbury MPP and Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci made the funding announcement at FERUS headquarters Aug. 22.
“This is really an incredible day in the economic expansion of how we view Sudbury,” Bartolucci said, adding that he also knew Boulard before he applied for funding.
“I was always impressed with Dan, and his dedicated approach to the work … When you’re reviewing applications, it’s always nice to have a personal knowledge of the individual and know that the work ethic is certainly in place.”
Bartolucci joked that, in reality, the NOHFC funding was less than $234,000.
“That’s rounded off,” he said. “The real number is $233,820. Next time you apply, Dan, just round it off. You’ll make it a lot easier on all of us.”
He also said he was amazed at the company’s rapid growth, adding that the size and importance of FERUS’s contracts are impressive.
“Here’s a beginning company that was able to secure a contract for $45 million,” he said, referring to the company’s contract to build a garnet processing plant for Mohawk Garnet. “Sounds like a good use of taxpayers’ money ... We look forward to many more projects in the future.”