Meet Joe Wright - Transitioning military skills to civilian trades

June 27, 2021

Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur (POE) provides veterans and transitioning Canadian military personnel with the education, tools and resources needed to succeed as an entrepreneur. The signature program element is an award-winning, seven-day intensive business boot camp designed to help participants rapidly advance their business knowledge and skills. Joe Wright attended the University of Regina boot camp in 2016.

“Being in a room with 19 other folks going through the same thing, going after the same goal, was an incredibly energizing experience.” - Joe Wright

While he was still a member of the Royal Canadian Navy, Joe Wright began thinking about entrepreneurship and self-employment. He knew he wanted to find a way to spend more time at home, with his wife and children. Even when he wasn’t deployed to some far-flung location, being in the Navy meant long periods away from his family.

By the time Joe officially left the military in June 2015, he had more than 10 years of training and experience as a marine engineering technician and earned his Red Seal Millwright Journeyman’s certificate while still serving. Upon his release he began working for a large Canadian mining company as a millwright (industrial mechanic) which involves the installation, repair and maintenance of machinery and heavy mechanical equipment.

He continued working towards his dream of opening his own shop. By the time one of his friends recommended the Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur seven-day boot camp, Joe had put together what he thought was a viable plan for a trade-based business. Joe immediately applied and attended the program in Regina during the summer of 2016.

On the first day of boot camp, the discussion on business planning – from cost structures and key partners to value propositions and business development – showed him that his business plan still needed work. Joe learned how important is was to specialize in his field, and credits boot camp with helping him target his millwright services, what he would offer and in which industries.

“It’s been an exciting journey. I wouldn’t be as far along as I am now if it weren’t for the POE program.”

With the wide range of business experts at boot camp, Joe found that there were “so many great stories to hear.”

“The transition out of the military can be a lonely experience. You’re used to working as part of a larger team, toward a common goal. Someone always has expertise to help figure something out, to fill the gaps in your knowledge,” Joe said. “But now, I’m more on my own.” The fact that he was surrounded by other exiting military members at boot camp was very helpful. It was good to be in a team environment again, and was helpful in generating ideas.

“Being in a room with 19 other folks going through the same thing, going after the same goal,” Joe said, “was an incredibly energizing experience.”

He’d recommend POE’s boot camp to anyone thinking of entrepreneurship and sees it as a necessary “prerequisite.” His advice is to keep an open mind and use all the resources at your disposal. “Opportunity is everywhere, particularly if you’re willing to put in some ‘sweat equity’.”

Joe started his business slowly, working part-time, and is proud of his business’s growth.

Double-U Industrial Mechanical Services Ltd. is Kamloops’ only veteran owned and operated commercial and industrial maintenance specialist. For more information on his business, visit his website -

For a listing of other veteran-owned businesses, see POE’s Canadian Veteran Business Directory at

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