A mystique has grown around the name “Diamond Dave” over the last 16 months or so.
The man, Dave Pykari of dp Diamond Blades, said that he ran into many people at the recent PDAC mining conference in Toronto who were glad to put a face to the catchy name.
“When I introduced myself as Dave, they’d say, ‘Hey, nice to meet you.’ But when I introduced myself as Diamond Dave, they’d say, 'Wow! Diamond Dave – I wanted to meet you!’ So this PDAC more than most was a really cool experience because of the positive changes we’ve made.”
The name and the company started more than 10 years ago.
The name alludes to “Diamond” David Lee Roth of Van Halen fame (Pykari got the idea at a branding seminar), but it’s a name that suits him, too.
He fits the part of a maverick entrepreneur in the mining exploration space. The name also refers to his diamond core cutting blades he developed to make core cutting cleaner, more efficient, faster, and easier.
Before dp Diamond Blades, most used core cutting saw blades were designed for concrete, not harder material such as granite, Pykari said. He developed six different blades, which cover the spectrum of core sample cutting from softer to harder rock.
“Our blades are designed specifically for cutting rock of all hardnesses. So when companies come to us and say they’re cutting rhyolite or lithium pegmatite, it’s not that I’m throwing them a blade that I think is going to work, it’s that I’m giving them a blade that I know is going to work.”
Pykari’s diverse background within mining exploration gave him the skills he needed to design, test, and sell the blades. He’s worked as a core cutter and a millwright, among other trades.
“I worked with the manufacturer to design the blades, so when it comes to user experience, I’m not just a salesperson. I’m the guy who knows the entire process of how these blades are put together. That’s been a huge advantage to the company.”
Originally, Pykari sold the blades part time. But demand grew through word of mouth and today he sells his blades from his Murillo shop, located just west of Thunder Bay, to customers as far away as Kenya, Guyana, Bolivia, Finland, and Yukon.
Dp Diamond Blades took a business tangent in November 2021 when exploration companies started to ask Pykari to help with core cutting.
Pykari said that it’s not unusual for exploration projects to get behind schedule. In one case, an exploration outfit was 10,000 metres behind. Pykari's company got them caught up in a matter of weeks, and word spread. He went from two employees to 10 in the space of 16 months.
“A lot of people overlook core cutting, but it’s an important part of the picture. It’s the last step before the samples go to the lab. If you don’t use the right blades, the right saw, the right setup, it gets backed up.”
Half his workforce is Indigenous, which Pykari said was important in light of truth and reconciliation.
“They are extremely hard workers,” he said.
Independent core cutting is a niche service that’s rare in the business, Pykari said. As far as he knows, he’s the only non-exploration or non-mining company in Ontario that specializes in core cutting.
But it solves a big problem in the industry. Now, companies can ship core samples to dp Diamond Blades’ secure facility for cutting, sending on to the lab, and storage.
Pykari said that dp Diamond Blades has also improved the core-cutting process in many ways. Added touches include metal-embossed butter tags for core box sample information that never wear down or rub off, water-proof labels on rice bags sent to the lab, and aligning core samples in their boxes.
“All of our boxes look like a perfectly put-together puzzle,” Pykari said. “That’s what you want in a core sample box, but not everyone does it that way.”
The company recently added core logging and sample polishing to its list of services.
Pykari has also developed a new product as well — the dp Striker prospector hammer — which is planned for a July 1 launch. The precision tool represents seven improvements over the traditional hammer, including a rubberized titanium handle and a better design for directing force on uneven surfaces.
Pykari hand-drew the initial design and created a prototype through the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre. He said several companies at PDAC have shown interest.
With the rapid demand for core cutting services, Pykari had to relocate the whole business from his home to a temporary location with mobile units. He plans to find a permanent location somewhere in the Thunder Bay area this summer.