With the help of Community Futures Peterborough and Kagita Mikam Employment Services, young Indigenous electrician and entrepreneur Brad Bourrie has taken over the reins of a Peterborough-area electrical company that’s been in business for more than four decades.
Founded by Gord White, White Electric has been providing construction, electrical, and special trade services to area residents since 1978. Bourrie, who has worked for the soon-to-be-retiree for nearly eight years, purchased the company from White in April.
“I thank Gord for building the company to what it is and for trusting me to take over and proceed forward with his name,” Bourrie says, who intends to keep the company’s original name in White’s honour.
Becoming a business owner wasn’t necessarily part of Bourrie’s original career plans when he enrolled in the Electrical Techniques program at Fleming College. Although pandemic restrictions prevented him from completing the required number of hours of in-class training, Bourrie logged more than enough hours of on-the-job training by apprenticing with White to make up for it. He was able to complete his Skilled Trades Equivalency Assessment and challenge the Certificate of Qualification, which he passed on his first writing last September.
With his electrician license in hand and an offer from White to take over the business, the only thing that stood in Bourrie’s way was obtaining financing.
Fortunately for Bourrie, Community Futures Peterborough was there to help. As a not-for-profit organization funded by the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), Community Futures Peterborough provides both financing and advisory support to small- and medium-sized businesses.
According to Bourrie, taking over White Electric would not have been possible without Community Futures’ support.
“I’d probably still be trying to find financing,” he says.
Since White had been holding out on offers from other potential buyers, it was important for Bourrie to arrange for financing as soon as possible — something that wasn’t going to happen when he applied for financing with other lenders.
“Community Futures is great,” Bourrie says. “They made things happen on a very fast and very prompt schedule.”
The support from Community Futures went well beyond financing, he adds. Recognizing Bourrie’s Indigenous status (his mother is from Garden River First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie), Community Futures connected him with Kagita Mikam, a service that assists with the recruitment, training, and employment of Indigenous peoples in the region. Kagita Mikam not only provided Bourrie with additional financial assistance, but will also be guiding him through his first year of ownership through their self-employment program.
According to business and loans manager Braden Clark, the Community Futures board was impressed by Bourrie’s dedication to both White Electric and its clientele.
“One of the key things the board saw in Brad was his character and his passion for the business,” Clark notes.
That passion is clear from Bourrie’s commitment to keep the company running in the same way it has for the past 44 years. As White moves into retirement, he is helping Bourrie adjust to his new ownership role by advising him on the company’s technical aspects, assisting with quotes, and referring customers.
Continuity of business ownership is something Community Futures supports, and not only from an economic development perspective.
“This is a well-established business in the community,” says Clark. “It’s important for us that when someone retires, they don’t just close up shop, because it negatively impacts the existing clients who have come to depend on them.”
Bourrie attributes these clients as the reason he wanted to take over the company.
“I’ve enjoyed taking care of clients while working for Gord and I’ve built quite a few friendships along the way,” he explains. “I just want to continue serving the same people and uphold Gord’s good name.”
Clark says the Community Futures board is always eager to support successions like this because it allows the owners to easily move into retirement without affecting existing clients.
“It’s important within our community that retiring business owners have a succession plan in place,” he says. “We were thrilled to fund Brad’s purchase of White Electric, in tandem with additional funding through Kagita Mikam — an amazing resource for Indigenous entrepreneurs.”
“It’s a win for Gord, a win for existing clients, and a win for Brad. With the older population in our community growing, we anticipate seeing more retirements in the near future. We encourage all entrepreneurs who are approaching retirement to connect with us to help develop a succession plan.”
As for Bourrie, his plan is to continue White’s success.
“For the future, I hope to get a few good crew members working with me,” he says. “We’ll proceed forward and take on as much work as we possibly can, and then we’ll go home with a happy smile.”
White Electric is located at 2104 Deer Bay Road in Lakefield. For more information on their services or to make an appointment, call 705-740-4467.
This branded editorial was created in partnership with Community Futures Peterborough. If your organization or business is interested in a branded editorial, contact us.