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Debt, Losses Sink Indigenous-Owned Canadian Carrier Featured On "Ice Road Truckers"

Debt, Losses Sink Indigenous-Owned Canadian Carrier Featured On "Ice Road Truckers"

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.

Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

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