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Risking it all: veteran pilot sacrificed job security for the independence of entrepreneurship.

A strong desire to succeed and a willingness to take risks are two of Sylvain Seguin's qualities which impressed our awards judges.

Seguin, the president and operations manager of Heli-North Aviation Inc./Heli-Nord Aviation Inc., is this year's winner of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award sponsored by Peat Marwick Thorne.

Seguin, 30, is a well-travelled helicopter pilot with more than 4,000 hours of flying time. He started his flying career while still in high school and has since been a flight instructor, fought fires, sprayed crops and flown mining exploration crews over deposits in the Yukon and North West Territories.

Prior to starting his own company, which now employs six full- and two part-time employees, Seguin was a pilot for Bandage Two, the Ministry of Health's air ambulance helicopter based at the Sudbury Airport.

One year ago Seguin met up with his old friend Roger Ranger, a helicopter engineer, and the two decided to launch their own aviation business. Although there were already several aviation firms operating in Sudbury, all had head offices outside Northern Ontario.

"We will always remain in Northern Ontario. This is our home," said Seguin, explaining the decision to take on the established competition.

With the assistance of a New Venture loan from the province, Seguin and Ranger purchased a Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter. They brought it up to flying standards after many long days and sleepless nights.

Today Heli-North conducts charters and serves such clients as Inco Ltd., Falconbridge Ltd., E.B. Eddy Forest Products and CP Rail. Its largest client is the Ministry of Natural Resources.

For Seguin it has been satisfying to launch and nurture a business during a recession.

"We managed to pull it off at the worst time," he says.

"The trick is that once you make the decision to start a business you have to go all the way. That is the key to success."

Seguin has since expanded the business with an additional operation called Heli-North International Flight Training School.

He purchased and repaired a small Enstom F28 helicopter, hired a full-time instructor to head up the bilingual flight school and started advertising the service locally as well as in an international flight training magazine.

Despite the fact that it costs about $29,000 to learn to pilot a helicopter, Seguin says inquiries have been coming in from as far away as Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Nigeria.

He is now adding a third helicopter for flight training and public rides.

"Eventually we are going to have not only training, charters and maintenance, but we are already talking about manufacturing helicopters here in Sudbury as well," says Seguin.

Much of Heli-North Aviation's success to date can be attributed to the substantial effort Seguin has invested in promotion and community relations.

Seguin has offered helicopter rides at such local events as Sudbury's Snowflake Festival, the Rayside-Balfour Carnival and Valley East Days. He also took his Enstom F28 helicopter to Toronto earlier this year to participate in the Opportunity North trade show.

Seguin joined forces with a local shopping mall and radio station to stage a fly-in fishing contest and he participated in Science North's Path to Discovery tours by offering helicopter rides at the Big Nickel Mine.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Northern Ontario Business Awards; Young Entrepreneur of the Year awardee Sylvain Seguin
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Words:543
Previous Article:Attitude is everything; innovative entrepreneur's philosophy is to work hard and have fun.
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