JNE Welding lands ABEX award
- Julia Peterson | January 12, 2020
Saskatoon-based company JNE Welding took home the top prize at this year’s ABEX Business Awards. Along with winning the ‘Business of the Year’ award, they also won the ‘Priority Focus for Indigenous Engagement’ award.
These awards are exceptionally competitive – of over 40,000 eligible companies in Saskatchewan, only about 65 are nominated every year after – and for JNE CEO Adam Logue, the night’s successes were a welcome surprise.
“We really had no idea,” he said. “We knew we were nominated for the Priority Focus on Indigenous Engagement award, but had no idea that we were even considered for [Business of the Year], let alone that we would receive it at the end of the night. So, the whole team here is just very excited by the great honour.”
Logue believes that what sets JNE apart are the relationships the company has built over the years.
“We’re constantly striving to create win-win relationships with our clients, our suppliers and our employees,” he said. “I believe that’s what you need to do to be successful nowadays.”
JNE Welding was founded in 1980 by Jim Nowakowski. Over the nearly four decades since, it has grown from a small operation with a handful of employees to a legacy business that builds custom steel fabrications throughout Western Canada. In 2015, English River First Nation and Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation became equity partners in the company with a 30% ownership interest each.
Steve McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, says that JNE Welding’s trajectory has been positive for all concerned.
“It’s a great symbol of the future of Saskatchewan, where a legacy company is now owned by a group of First Nations, and they are taking the profits from that to invest in other businesses and their communities,” he said. “But it’s also a sign of the times, where the interests of the First Nations communities are coming together with businesses that are changing hands. It’s just a great Saskatchewan story. Everything about it is good – the symbolism is good, it’s a great business decision for all , and JNE is continuing to grow.”
McLellan hopes that JNE’s story will serve as an example to other businesses in the province.
“I would encourage all businesses – whether they’re a brand-new company or a legacy company – to follow the lead of JNE and look what they can do to expand their Indigenous engagement,” he said. “By doing that, they make their company stronger and more sustainable, and they also make Saskatchewan stronger.”