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Debt, losses sink indigenous-owned Canadian carrier featured on ‘Ice Road Truckers’

Tli Cho Landtran Transport and affiliates will be closed and possibly sold after losing C$18 million in the past year and facing mounting debt reaching C$60 million.

Tli Cho Landtran Transport and its affiliates have been losing millions of dollars in 2019. Photo: Tli Cho Landtran Transport

Tli Cho Landtran Transport, a trucking company once featured on the TV series “Ice Road Truckers,” is shutting down along with several affiliates that hauled freight in some of Canada’s most treacherous freight lanes but faced a staggering load of debt and mounting losses in the millions. 

Tli Cho Landtran, Ventures West Transport and two affiliates incurred C$18 million in losses in the fiscal year ending in March, their owner, Tlicho Investment Corp, said in a Nov. 27 court filing in Alberta seeking creditor protection. By the end of October, their debt reached C$60 million with assets worth about C$40 million.

A hearing tomorrow, Dec. 6, will decide whether Tlicho Investment — owned by the indigenous government of the Tlicho First Nation — can extend creditor protection and proceed with a plan to sell off their assets. Most of the companies’ 40 employees will likely lose their jobs. The carriers also had about 40 owner-operators.

The fatal blow came from the loss of their single largest customer, a diamond mine in the Northwest Territories, which accounted for 27% of revenue, according to court filings.

“Without this business, they could not continue to operate without sustaining significant losses. Unfortunately, the decision was made to close the Transport Companies operations and sell their assets consisting mainly of trucks and trailers,” Tlicho Investment CEO Mark Brajer said in a statement.

Still, the filing notes that the diamond mine’s business had itself been unprofitable and that efforts to secure a better contract failed.

The trucking companies effectively operated an intermingled entity headquartered in Alberta. They handled a mix of truckload, less than truckload, bulk and specialized transport, most notably using winter and ice roads to access the most remote areas of western Canada, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

The History Channel’s reality series “Ice Road Truckers” included Tli Cho’s drivers and dispatchers, chronicling the dangerous work.

Representatives from Tli Cho Transport and Tlicho Investment could not be reached for comment.

Canada has seen relatively few trucking failures in 2019 despite a weaker, choppy freight market. Ontario-based FTI filed for bankruptcy in September after closing alongside its U.S. sibling HVH.


  1. Noble1

    The “Freightwaves correspondent ” appears to have left out some important details in the story .



    “Nepotism, mismanagement alleged

    The Tlicho Investment Corporation is currently being sued by one of its partners in those deals — the Denesoline Corp. of Lutsel K’e.
    The lawsuit targets the Tlicho Investment Corporation and the two numbered Tlicho-owned companies that, in turn, own Ventures West and Tli Cho Landtran. Denesoline alleges that, since being purchased, Ventures West has been mismanaged.

    “Our allegations included that friends and family of the chiefs were appointed to positions of authority with the numbered companies, and that such appointments resulted in gross mismanagement of the companies,” Marco Poretti, one of the lawyers representing Denesoline, told CBC.

    “What we see today, the numbered companies are in financial distress and court protection is being requested. So we do see a connection between our allegations and what has, in fact, come to pass.” 
    The lawsuit was filed two and a half years ago. Poretti said the Tlicho have already paid some of what the Denesoline were claiming — $370,000 in unpaid dividends. The Lutsel K’e company also wants the Tlicho to buy out its share of the business. It is also calling for an investigation of how the companies were managed.

    More losses ahead with lost contract
    According to Tlicho Investment Corporation CEO Brajer’s affidavit, though the mine fuel resupply was the biggest part of the trucking companies’ business, it has not been profitable.
    In an effort to turn it into a money-maker, the companies raised their rates in a bid they made earlier this year for the next five-year contract.

    For the first time in 10 years, the Tlicho companies did not win the fuel resupply contract. In his affidavit, Brajer said, as a result, net losses for the coming year are predicted to be $9.3 million.
    The corporation is now looking to sell off the assets of the two companies.”

    End quote .

    Read more in article titled : Tlicho Investment Corp. seeks more creditor protection of its crashing trucking business

    It’s always a case of “bad management” .

    In my humble opinion ………

    1. Noble1

      Furthermore ,

      Pay very close attention to what I will quote from the comments made underneath the article :


      “Jeff Samson

      3 days ago
      The mismanagement could be seen at the very bottom. We the driver’s could see it and feel it. It’s a shame, we had no notice and many of us are without jobs now. ”

      End quote .

      Notice what one of the drivers is saying !

      RE-QUOTE :
      “The mismanagement could be seen at the very bottom. We the driver’s could see it and feel it. ”

      Point number 1- I have always advocated that the “drivers” always see it before Wall Street & Bay Street does .

      And RE-QUOTE the final part of the “driver’s comment” :

      “It’s a shame, we had no notice and many of us are without jobs now. ”

      POINT NUMBER 2 –
      Now isn’t that a freaking contradiction on the “driver’s” part and ignorant GALORE !

      First the “driver states that they could see it(mismanagement) and feel it(mismanagement) from the “bottom” , and then states ” it’s a shame they had no notice” ??????? LOL !

      If the drivers & and or employees could see it and feel it then obviously they had “NOTICE” .

      What’s sad is these poor employees don’t understand how to use the power they have , nor do they realize the power they have .

      And this is why if one day my idea of creating a world class “Truck Driver Alliance” comes to be a reality , drivers will be taught how the ALLIANCE can use this “collective” knowledge profitably for all drivers in the Alliance ! YOU know first hand whether ANY BUSINESS where you haul from or to , is slowing down , or expanding , or mismanaged or not !

      In my humble opinion ……..

      P.S , I have been writing about the idea for a while now cause I couldn’t careless if someone ‘steals” it and creates it ! Just align already ! However, the genius in the idea is knowing how to set it up so that the “Alliance” is profitable beyond your wildest and infinite imagination !!!

      I repeat : If a “Truck Driver Alliance” is wisely structured it becomes a force to be reckoned with . And this sort of a “force” no government nor major carrier(s) nor shippers and or lobbied law(s) etc could overpower , NONE ! And this is without breaking a single law , nor raising a single fist nor instigating a single laborer strike . And this “Alliance” would expand to …. anyways I wrote and spoke about this before on many occasions . I appear to be a little ahead of my time .

      Until then don’t cry about the hardship . The solution to outsmarting the greedy , the incompetent, the crooks , and or whatever you want to call them and or “it” , is a lot simpler than one can imagine . It’s simply a “problem” and every problem has a solution . It’s a puzzle . Rearrange the pieces and create a different picture , period ! YOU ARE THE “PIECES” !!!

      Remember , the “elite” needs you . For if it were not for YOU , there would be no “elite” ! YOUR “division” fuels their power . Aren’t YOU fed up of being taken advantage of and used ? Apparently not quite yet .

      Wake up !

      In my humble opinion ………..

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Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected]