By ANDREW WAREING
Mining service and supply companies outside of Sudbury are taking a serious look at the benefits of banding together.
The Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA) has been fielding several calls from companies, particularly in North Bay and elsewhere in Northern Ontario looking seriously at joining the association.
“It makes good business sense to expand the development of SAMSSA within a regional context and increase its capacity to create real wealth in Northern Ontario,” says North Bay economic development commission manager Rick Evans.
“There are approximately 60 mining service and supply companies in North Bay,” says SAMSSA acting facilitator Dick DeStefano. “When they saw what we were doing, they saw great value in participating in increasing the critical mass (of SAMSSA) and presence worldwide of the expertise that we have in mining supplies
“It’s a good business decision for the North because it has all kinds of implications for jobs and our presence
0worldwide,” he says.
DeStefano says there has been no formal survey done on Sudbury or North Bay’s mining service and sales sector’s economic impact, but it is estimated Northern Ontario companies in this sector generate more than $4 billion per year in business. In Sudbury and North Bay, they employ approximately 10,000 people.
It will also increase research and development opportunities through post-secondary education institutions throughout Northern Ontario due to tax advantages offered by the approach. This group approach has the potential to increase business by about 10 per cent at least, he says.
SAMSSA began in June in Sudbury as an association of mining supply and service associations that has approximately 49 members so far. Because the purpose of the organization is to serve as a voice for all service and supply companies throughout the region, it opens the way to a cluster approach in promoting what Northern Ontario companies have to offer.
“There’s a collective, one-stop shopping concept that will be presented worldwide to tradeshows,” he says.
“There will be a lot of handshaking going on in trying to bring some of these people and investment to Northern Ontario.
“From the prospective of members, there will be a number of export education programs that will be developed over the next year,” he says. “That will certify one or two employees from each company to become ‘experts’ in export development.”
DeStefano calls the approach being taken the “Costco model”.
“If you market yourself worldwide, you have to be able to walk into a huge resource like we have in the North and see all of the services we have and then encourage people to buy the services and products,” he says. “And, in turn, that brings more research.
“Eventually, there will be no one in Northern Ontario who will not be allowed to join SAMSSA,” say DeStefano.
He says Sudbury is a recognizable brand worldwide for mining sales and services and SAMSSA has been encouraged by companies in North Bay and elsewhere interested in joining SAMSSA to keep that name regardless of where in the region surrounding the city its membership comes from.
In late September, a meeting was planned between SAMSSA representatives and companies from elsewhere in the region, including North Bay to talk about bringing more companies from elsewhere in Northeastern Ontario into the SAMSSA fold.