Juraj Carnogursky, the owner/operator of Hay River-based Triple T, first got his start in the trucking industry working for his father.
“He had his own little trucking business,” Carnogursky says. “He did good, so he got a second truck, and I ended up running the second truck, and then I ended up becoming the mechanic too. Keeping the trucks running.”
“I got a taste of the good money in trucking,” he laughs.
But as time went by, Carnogursky Sr.’s small fleet started to age out. “Those trucks, they got old and started breaking down, and my dad didn’t want to put any more money into them.”
Carnogursky decided to step up and invest in himself. “I saved up what I needed and I bought myself a truck — a cheap and old truck — and I got going on my own as a subcontractor, for the same companies that he worked for. Based out of Inuvik, his original home base, he took on projects such as road widening. “As a Gwich’in beneficiary I was a local hire.”
His first “cheap and old” truck didn’t last that long. “It was only a $15,000 truck. I had it for a couple seasons.” He needed to upgrade, and that was when he first approached MDDF for help.
“I applied with MDDF for just a straight loan, and they offered me the CanNor program [see SERVICES and FUNDS sections for further details on CanNor’s funding options, including the Entrepreneurship and Business Development Fund] which was something I couldn’t refuse, with the government paying for a big part of my loan. I had something like a $75,000 loan, but only had to pay back $25,000. So that was a good deal.”
With the funding, Carnogursky bought himself a new truck, and got another $15,000 for operating capital. But a few bad contracts and the shrinking of the sector a few years ago meant he had a bumpy road ahead of him, for a while at least. Rising fuel costs, equipment failure, bad contracts. “It was really tough,” he says today. “I just about went bankrupt there. I could have.”
However, thanks in part to ongoing support from MDDF, he persevered. “They were really good. They understood the ups and downs of the trucking business. And when I couldn’t make payments, they were lenient with me, and stuck with me.
Eventually, he based himself out of Hay River, where a solid local contract has got him back on his feet. “I got the truck paid off, all my outstanding debts paid off. And it looks like there will be a lot of work for years to come.” Today, Carnogursky is on solid ground, and even thinking about expanding his operations, thanks in no small part to the understanding and support of the Métis Dene Development Fund.