Castle Rock joins Dakwakada fold

Dakwakada Development Corporation has bought Castle Rock Enterprises. It's the latest acquisition by the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations' business arm, which also has stakes in Latitude Wireless, Kilrich Industries and Rab Energy Group.

Dakwakada Development Corporation has bought Castle Rock Enterprises.

It’s the latest acquisition by the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations’ business arm, which also has stakes in Latitude Wireless, Kilrich Industries and Rab Energy Group, the makers of Northerm Windows and Doors.

Castle Rock specializes in clearing lots and installing sewer and water pipes, but they’re capable of handling “anything you need to a big piece of machinery for,” said Murray Arsenault, general manager of Dakwakada.

The directors of the First Nations’ trust give Arsenault his marching orders, and they see Whitehorse’s construction industry as a smart place to invest their money.

“Whistle Bend is looming,” Arsenault said, referring to Whitehorse’s next big residential neighbourhood. “There’s going to be a lot of water and sewer lines.”

But buying Castle Rock wasn’t a decision that was made quickly. When Rick and Ron Bonnycastle, a father-and-son team that started the company in the late 1990s, approached Arsenault about being bought-out, they started a process that would involve three separate accounting firms combing through their books over 10 months.

They concluded the company was on offer for a fair price and that it had potential to grow, said Arsenault. Just how much was paid for the acquisition isn’t being publicly disclosed, although the price tag will be revealed to First Nation members.

“Anyone can go out and buy a piece of heavy equipment,” said Arsenault. “It’s the people who make it distinct.”

When he contacted past customers of Castle Rock, “all the responses we got were positive,” said Arsenault.

Yukon’s chamber of commerce recognized the Bonnycastles as the territory’s businessmen of the year in 2008.

Rick has since retired, but Ron continues to manage the company, which has about 30 workers. There are no plans to change the management, said Arsenault.

The Dakwakada Development Corp. office is a cramped space located in the back of the Dana Naye Ventures building on Black Street.

Papers are sprawled across Arsenault’s desk – he’s looking to hire an administrative assistant. For now, it’s just him and one part-time worker who occupy the office.

It’s humble quarters for a business that has its fingers in a lumberyard, a window manufacturer, the Yukon’s cellphone provider and now a construction company.

The development corporation also owns real estate in Whitehorse and in Abbotsford, BC. “Yukon is home,” said Arsenault. “But I think a little diversification is a wise move.”

Arsenault has worked for Dakwakada for about two years. Previously he worked in Inuvik for the Inuvialuit Development Corporation, where he helped set up, among other things, a program to package and transport musk ox meat across the High Arctic.

Arsenault estimates he typically speaks to representatives at 60 different companies about possible acquisitions over the course of a year. Of those, about 15 usually advance beyond early talks into serious negotiations, he said.

So if you think the Dakwakada Development Corp. is done growing, think again.

Asked what’s next for Dakwakada, Arsenault shoots back “what are you selling?” without batting an eye.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

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