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Pressure Pipe Steel Fabrication Ltd. (Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL)
Hilda is the President and Chief Financial Officer of Pressure Pipe Steel Fabrication Ltd. (PPSF) – a company that provides steel fabrication and welding services in Labrador. PPSF has ten employees and has established business links with clients and suppliers around the world.
Hilda’s biggest challenge was a lack of confidence to negotiate with financial institutions during the initial stages of her business. However, as the business became more successful, Hilda discovered that the funding agencies were more willing to help. Over time, she also realized that doing business face-to-face and on a personal level works the best. For example, a funder was unwilling to help until she travelled to their offices and had a meeting with them. She got a funding commitment the same day. As she says, “The personal relationship is the key – let them know who you are and what you are like.”
Hilda recalls the first five years of the business as being the hardest. She was working at a college, taking courses, working evenings and weekends at the business and looking after her young family. There were a lot of sacrifices – time not spent with her children and few vacations without a lot of extra money to spend. Everything was going into the business to make sure it was strong and healthy. At one point, even their house had to be remortgaged and “Kraft Dinner was a regular menu item.”
According to Hilda, “I was a shy little girl growing up and I had no idea that I would one day be running a bunch of businesses and dealing with complicated business decisions every day. I started off helping my husband with his original business and now we have a 100% Inuit/Indigenous-owned business. I like the challenges and the rewards that go with owning your own business and the fact that the successes we have are all ours.” She offers some advice:
Develop a hunger for learning – “learning is a lifelong process.’ This isn’t just a saying; it is an important attitude to have in business. The world changes quickly and to be successful you have to understand these changes and be prepared to adapt your business to meet needed opportunities”
In the early years of a business, be prepared to sacrifice and spend lots of time and energy on the business. It may not seem like you are getting ahead at times, but the business will demand a lot of attention and effort before it really starts to pay off.
Business involves risk. Very few businesses involve no risk. By careful planning, hard work and not taking too much out of the business at first, the risk of failure becomes smaller and the chances of success get much bigger. Be willing to take risks.
Learn to be comfortable with large amounts of debt but be confident that the business will succeed. This will be hard to do at first but as you gain experience, skills and confidence, it will get easier.
Don’t take no for an answer. You are smart and hard working. Don’t let challenges become obstacles. Figure out how to deal with them and move on.