Both Rick Lemieux and Bob Morin were born in small towns, both demonstrated an aptitude for working with machinery at a young age, and both saw ways to make improvements in the mining industry, which helped their respective companies achieve success around the globe.
For these accomplishments, the two were inducted into the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Services Association (SAMSSA) Hall of Fame Dec. 4.
SAMSSA executive director Dick DeStefano said the organization’s board was unanimous in this year’s choices. The awards acknowledge dedication, hard work and ingenuity in the field of mining.
“We’re honouring men and women who take companies and build them and live in our community and are here to create jobs and wealth,” DeStefano said.
Lemieux, who founded Rock-Tech and RDH Mining, showed an early fascination with machinery, and at the age of 17 entered an apprenticeship as a heavy duty mechanic at a local John Deere dealer, before transitioning into the mining sector as a maintenance supervisor for a mining contractor.
In 1985, he went into business for himself, bringing on his son, Ricky, to help. He quickly learned that determination and hard work were the keys to success.
“Before we knew it, dad was getting contracts with the local wood mills as a diesel and hydraulic repair specialist,” Ricky said. “And not too long after the mining industry caught wind that he started out on his own, they started calling him for his services, as he was known as one of the best jumbo drill technicians in the mining industry.”
Lemieux started reselling existing equipment after making his own safety, productivity or reliability improvements. By the 1990s, he began manufacturing his own products and by the end of 1999, his first electric diesel hydraulic drillmaster jumbo was ready for launch. His mining equipment is now operating on every continent.
Lemieux sold RDH in 2011, but not before producing a machine of which he was most proud: a battery-operated motor, which he believed would help address ventilation challenges, while making the mining environment safer and cleaner, Ricky said.
Now retired and pursuing other interests, Lemieux said he misses the relationships he forged with friends, partners and competitors. He attributes his success to a few simple lessons: if you’re doing a job, do it right, and never burn a bridge.
“If you want a company to grow, you’ve got to go after it and you can’t let go,” he said.
Like Lemieux, Bob Morin, general manager at Mobile Parts Inc., had an early interest in machinery, earning his truck, coach and automotive service technician certificates following high school. He worked for Canadian Tire in Cornwall as a service manager until 1979, after which he ran Rosemont Tire in Brockville.
A diving accident during a family outing in 1981 resulted in shattered vertebrae and severed neck nerves, leaving Morin paralyzed. His doctors weren’t optimistic, but Morin recovered.
“He couldn’t continue as mechanic, so he used knowledge and experience,” said Lynne St. George, Mobile Parts’ controller. “After his recovery, he moved back to Sudbury and started working for his brother, Roger, at Mobile Parts Inc. as outside salesman.”
Morin became the general manager in 1990 and has guided the company through the ups and downs of the mining industry.
He saw the recessions of 1990 and 2008 as opportunities to expand into the export market, leading the sales team to make new contacts overseas and obtaining new customers in several countries, St. George said. He additionally obtained new parts contracts from several Canadian mining companies.
“Both initiatives helped increase sales and were part of the reason we were able to thrive during hard times,” St. George said.
Today, the company is a global mining parts supplier with customers in more than 30 countries, much of it thanks to Morin’s dedication and perseverance.
“His hard work and dedication is inspiring and is an indication of what a small, family business can achieve when you have persevering and tenacious people at the helm such as Bob,” St. George said.
Morin said receiving the SAMSSA nod is “truly an honour, which I am grateful for.”
He acknowledged his staff for their help, as well as his wife and family for supporting him in his “quest to succeed in this industry.”
“Thank you to all you have come here today,” he said. “It is truly an honour.”