Northern News Services
Hardisty and Walter Blondin, a private consultant from Fort Simpson, are partners in HP 2002 Ltd. (Hardisty Petroleum), which opened for business on July 10.
Through privatization, the price of gasoline in Wrigley has dropped six cents per litre, to 91 cents/litre.
Hardisty, who was born in the bush at Ochre River and has lived in Wrigley most of his live, said pumping gas on behalf of the government offered no pension and no long-term security.
"I thought I better do something about it," he said. "It's been a lot of work (establishing the business) since January ... a lot of sweat equity."
"And cash," Blondin added.
The duo have privately financed the enterprise. They have invested in two 75,000-litre, double-walled fuel tanks -- one for storage of gasoline, the other for diesel -- and two computerized fuel pumps. They are also capable of delivering home-heating fuel in their tanker truck. As well, they have set up a trailer as a convenience store on the property.
"We used all Northern materials, and Northern businesses. We support the Northern economy," said Blondin, who added that the territorial government's Petroleum Products Division has been "very supportive" of the privatization initiative.
"It shows that aboriginal people can compete. They can build their own businesses, their own economy," Blondin said, adding that his business plan will allow Hardisty to buy him out in five years to become the sole proprietor.
Maureen Hall, acting director for Petroleum Products Division in Yellowknife, commended Hardisty and Blondin on their initiative. She noted that the government pumps have been shut down.
"We're not there to compete against private enterprise, Far from it. We're there to help them," Hall said.
Hardisty can foresee a thriving business in the future.
"Once the pipeline goes through I'm going to have to expand," he said.
According to Blondin, there may be a need to sink more capital into the venture even prior to a Mackenzie Valley pipeline.
"Already the large exploration camps are knocking at our door," he said. "They want us to stock fuel for them, so it looks like we're going to have to buy another tanker (truck)."