Adrienne Paul was born in Newfoundland and raised in the Mi’kmaq Qalip’u First Nation. She grew up as a traditional and fancy dancer, and was active in her community, often volunteering with elders. She also studied the language of Mi’kmaq at Cape Breton University in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Her love of hunting and trapping grew from experiences with her father and grandfather. In spite of the wonderful memories and traditions she shared with her family, she felt restless. After promising her father to find what her soul was meant to do, she jumped on a plane and came to Alberta.
Adrienne established Mackenzie Petroleum Technologies (MPT) in Grande Prairie in October 2016, and completed their first job on June 2, 2017. Upon starting the business, one of MPT’s main goals was to incorporate as much of Adrienne’s culture as possible and to contribute somehow to the community she now calls home. The use of traditional Indigenous symbolism in the logo was important, and as a family owned and operated business, MPT strives to be involved as much as possible in the community.
When she left Newfoundland, Adrienne promised her father that she would find what she would love to do professionally. After ten years of working various jobs such as a waitress, a bartender, in administration, a rig hand, and even in safety, a business partner asked her about a trucking venture. Instinctively, she knew this was the road to take! She had found her passion and couldn’t wait to help others find their passion the way she did.
“Am I challenged, scared, worried, happy, and full of passion every single day? Yes, but if it doesn’t scare you, it doesn’t change you.”
Running on the Power of Promises Kept
Giving back to the community is one of the things Adrienne promised to do and is proud of. Some of the ways she and her business have accomplished this is by donating to:
- Grande Prairie Storm Player Kyler Manual #15 (2017)
- Charles Spencer Jr. Female and Male Basketball Team (2017)
- Nationals Jr. Female Basketball Team (2017)
- Local homeless shelters
Another fun initiative included participating in the Stacey Memorial Mud Bogs event in Wembley, Alberta. Donations covered a class division and sponsored a driver—an event very close to their hearts. They also provided some silent auction items for different fundraisers for members of the community.
Adrienne’s most recent accomplishments include a nomination for the Eagle Feather Award for Indigenous Businesses from the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce and speaking on the panel of local entrepreneurs at the Indigenous Entrepreneur Summit hosted by Business Link.
Her most proud moment was when one of her trucks had a light oilfield haul in Newfoundland. The truck happened to drive past her parent’s home, and her mother immediately texted her with excitement saying: “I’m right proud of something, like I’m happy inside.”
“I am most proud of the fact that I took a risk. I took a leap of faith and tried something I never thought I would.”
In It for the Long Haul
Starting a business has numerous challenges, but the hardest one is capital. MPT started their business without a traditional bank loan or any form of credit. They plowed forward with help in the form of small loans from friends and personal savings. Between Adrienne and her partner, they have 25+ years of experience in the oil and gas industry, but little to none in starting or running a business.
Another challenge is trust: trust in your partner, your employees, and business partners. Some of those “trusted” deals have cost the company a substantial amount of money, but they carried on, having learned the hard way.
Setting the Stage for Success
Despite not having experience with starting or running a business, Adrienne and her business partner found great support and guidance from a number of Alberta-based small business support organizations.
Business Link was an accidental discovery for Adrienne. She had been ceaselessly looking for funding through Indigenous service providers who eventually directed her to Business Link Indigenous Services. Since then, she has been in monthly contact with our Business Facilitator, Tina, to learn about local resources, grant opportunities, and small business training classes.
She is also working with Community Futures in Grande Prairie to perfect her business plan for future financing opportunities, as they want to grow the company before the next boom.
Attending Alberta Women Entrepreneurs’ AWE Peerspark retreat helped Adrienne grow her skills as a manager and business owner. One piece of advice she gives for those developing a business would be to always reach out for support and participate in any business training available.
“For me personally, I want to learn as much as I can. I have finally found my passion, my joy, the reason I get up every morning. The more I can learn, either in class, by mentorship, or podcasts, I will soak up. I have officially become a sponge.”
Not Always a Smooth Ride
Her advice for new business owners is to always set aside time for yourself that does not involve business. Use that time for things like going to the gym, reading a good book, meditating, eating supper with your family, or whatever it takes to rest your mind and soul, even if for a little while.
“You’re going to lose sleep, you’re going to get grey hairs, you’re going to want to quit, and you may fail. But as Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own: ‘If it were easy, everyone would do it.’”
Going the Distance
MPT has just separated their business into two divisions: Light Oilfield Hauling has been moved to Blackwatch Transportation, and their vacs and tank trucks will stay under Mackenzie. This is a business move that protects and grows their passion. From here, the possibilities are endless.