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Calgary’s Next Economy: Industree connects companies with qualified skilled workers

Zachary Cooper-Black first started working at his dad’s industrial maintenance company when he was 16.

He started working in the shop and became an apprentice pipe fitter over the summers. Cooper-Black later went to school for mechanical engineering but still worked his way up through the company.

When he helped with the recruitment side of project management, that began the path to founding Industree.

“I started seeing this big gap around how we were finding candidates for our projects when we needed people with specific skill sets,” he said.

They were finding people’s resumes weren’t always accurate. They’d bring in candidates through recruitment, then training, only to find they didn’t have the required skills.

The turnover rate with recruiting was between 25 and 60 per cent, he said.

Cooper-Black knew there were professionals out there with the right skills to fit what they needed.

“We weren’t able to find them because traditional resume system, recruitment system just wasn’t doing anything for them,” he said.


With experience in the construction and maintenance industry, Cooper-Black said they were able to start by creating a platform with a refined candidate selection process.

For example, they could ask pipefitters or welders about certifications. They could ask what kind of pipe they’d welded before, where they’d worked.

“We’re getting a little bit more granular like that,” he said.

“We’re able to take that information, and then on the other side of the company you take your similar project information.”

Companies can match it up to make sure they get precisely the experience they need for a specific job, Cooper-Black said. He said it reduces the amount of time to find and interview candidates in specific fields.

“We’re just trying to make that whole process streamlined,” he said.

“It’s especially beneficial in certain industries like industrial maintenance space.” 

He said situations like emergency shutdowns at oil and gas facilities where companies might require specific skills for shutdown and restart, it eliminates risk in hiring unqualified workers.

Prospective skilled workers or employers can sign up through the Industree portal and begin the process to find work or workers.

Start-up school

Cooper-Black said he didn’t go to business school – he’s a mechanical engineer. So, he immediately started picking up bits of information through the Platform Calgary junction program.

“(At school) I didn’t learn about how to develop a value proposition or learn about marketing campaigns,” he said.

The instructors have been a resource to help develop skills and learn in a way he previously hadn’t.

It’s provided a solid foundation for Cooper-Black to tool up for what could be a boom in worker demand.

Post-COVID infrastructure spending will increase the need for skilled workers in Alberta and across Canada. He’s hoping Industree can position itself to be to go-to portal to connection skilled labour with projects.

“What we’re looking at is a big need for a lot of companies to find a lot of workers,” Cooper-Black said.

“A lot of workers are going to need to find those jobs as easily as possible.”