Entrepreneur hopes to set up shop in his motherland

Jay St. Germaine's family hails from Inuvik and now he wants to bring his business up north

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Alberta entrepreneur Jay St. Germaine and Public Works director Richard Campbell at a March 17 meeting. Campbell is St. Germaine’s mother’s childhood friend. (courtesy Jay St. Germaine)

Jay St. Germaine only recently visited Inuvik, but his roots to the community run deep.

“We wanted to stay all week,” he said of a recent visit to town that was cut short by the COVID-19 crisis. “I had never been to Inuvik up until last week, but I’m related to pretty much everybody.

“What we wanted to do is come up there and put a little money in the community. We see an opportunity to help out the younger people there.”

The youngest of 11 siblings, St. Germaine worked his way up the ladder, establishing several businesses in Alberta. And now he wants to bring his success back to his motherland.

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of his great-great-grandfather, William Phillips, who founded the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post in the Beaufort in the nineteenth century, St. Germaine has already committed half a million dollars to the project and hired five people to begin welding work and is hoping to have a shop set up before the end of the year.

“There’s a little chunk of land by the airport we’re thinking about and setting up shop,” he said. “Our biggest focus is getting up there and setting up shop.”

His focus will be two-fold; not only will the new shop do welding jobs but will also handle instrumentation — designing gauges to measure the pressure, heat, flow and other things workers running machines need to keep a close eye on.

On top of that, St. Germaine said he wants to set up a local training program to get more people into the instrumentation trade.

“We go in and teach the kids about instrumentation and electrical,” he said. “So far we have done two seminars in Blueberry River First Nation. We’ve had electricians come in to show how to pour chemical seals, stuff like that. I want to give back to people and show everybody there’s a greater future ahead of them. This is a great avenue for kids to get a career under their belt and do something with their lives.

“I came from a really, really poor family and I saw my way to the top.”

World events have obviously put a snag in his plans, but St. Germaine insists he is committed to bringing his business to the north and said it would be full speed ahead as soon as possible.

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