At the January NCN Council meeting, when Chief and Council asked the simple question: Why do profits from Meetah seem to be slower this year? The answer reported from one of NCN’s most successful businesses, Meetah Building Supplies Inc. was clear. “Meetah is busier than ever with community development projects and moneys-owed are still coming in,“ said Gert Wilzer, Meetah Building Supplies Manager.
This means that the financial reports show – even though business was steady last year and increased in early 2017 – the balance of revenue will not be fully in the NCN coffers until Meetah is paid what is owed for outstanding work.
“It is common for almost any business, especially in contracting and construction to have periods where our expenses are up and payments do not come in fully – until projects are completed. Simply put, we have a lot of work going on right now and are trying to collect on receivables,” explained Wilzer.
Overall, business was steady in 2016 and had a slight increase over the years previous. In 2017, volume is already up and suggests a good year ahead.
Balancing a Wide Range of Services for NCN and Northern Manitoba
Meetah Building Supplies provides nearly all the lumber, building supplies, decking and home interior products for construction projects in Nelson House. Local supplies are used on the projects when possible, even when sub-contractors are hired from outside the community, Arrangements are made with each contractor to use the trusted supplies and materials from the Meetah business. This way all sub-contractors have the same competitive opportunity – without the worry or costs linked to shipping in materials.
In addition to building supplies sales and a cabinet-making shop, Meetah also operates a sub-division company of builders and contractors called NCN Builders. Profits from the NCN-run businesses go back into capital growth, help to expand services, grow operations and product selection as well as increase the inventory assets of equipment and facilities.
Meetah also has four property home rentals in the City of Thompson. The NCN Family and Community Wellness Centre rents two of the homes for wellness programs and two homes are rented by other tenants. These solid real-estate properties have been economically sustainable and help to improve NCN’s equity.
Keeping Costs Competitive in a Remote Location
Meetah’s costs are competitively priced when compared to other retailers. NCN Chief and Council ensure this by doing periodic price checks and Meetah management also conducts internal price-checks to provide customers fair prices.
Meetah currently employs 15 staff and between eight and 12 seasonal workers. Between 75% and 90% are NCN workers. Attempts are made to keep wages comparable to similar businesses. It is expected more workers could be needed to handle upcoming major projects in NCN.
Work Demand is Increasing
Currently Meetah is busy supplying materials for the NNOC high school repairs, contracts for 10 group homes, the RCMP four-plex, 12-unit bungalow project, along with the steady demand for NCN home repairs, maintenance and services for other Northern Manitoba Communities. The plans for an NCN Multi-Plex build, 30 new homes, a new women’s shelter and upgrades to the baseball complex indicate business will be great in the coming months/years.
Wilzer says, “On top of the many projects underway, and the large community builds planned, the band remains our largest customer, but we are also seeing an increase in NCN Home owners wanting our retail products and services.”
Meetah is currently managing the increase in business and reports that additional resources and workers may be needed to accommodate the workload. “It is a good environment to be operating in… more work supports the local economy, enhances job placement and increases the opportunity to train and offer apprenticeships for ATEC students or skilled tradespeople,” claims Wilzer.
Effectively Managing Finances
Meetah is an incorporated business and all finances are audited and approved by Dayton Barenz, certified general accountants. Nelson House Development Corporation oversees the business under the scrutiny of corporation Manager, David Kobliski. Kobliski in turn reports to Chief and Council.
Chief Marcel Moody says, “Meetah’s successful organizational model helps ensure accountability and effective business management. Meetah and the Corporation have been quite successful since 1997 and 100% of profits go back into capital and growing that business and expanding product lines and services.”
Cooperating to Maintain Quality
To meet the demand of new construction, Meetah enlists the help of a wide range of contracted services including, engineers, plumbers, carpenters, electricians and various skilled trades workers. Contracts are awarded based on: quality of work; potential for jobs for local employees; ability to improve training opportunities; costs-efficiencies; reputation/credibility of contractor, past work experience, fit within the business, and other valuable criteria. Sub-contractors are then managed by Meetah Building Supplies to monitor project deadlines, worker performance, project budgets; cost increases; and ensure the work is completed according to the contract.
“We encourage work with NCN subcontractors when possible, but of course we also need to be mindful of cost, fit with our business and quality of work to meet busy schedules and Chief and Council’s expectations” says Gert.
Contractors looking to be invited to tenders are asked to contact the Development Corporation or Meetah for consideration.
Chief and Council are optimistic Meetah will continue to grow with the constantly growing community and be NCN’s primary source of construction supplies long into the future. Citizens are encouraged to attend the NCN General Assembly to discuss future NCN development projects.
For more information about Nelson House Development Corporation or Meetah Building Supplies contact (204)-484-2225 or your NCN Government Office.