2012 Hall of Fame
MOBILE PARTS INC.
Born in a small northern Ontario town in 1954, Bob Morin grew up in Winchester as part of a large family of 16 brothers and 4 sisters.
I can only imagine what it was like to grow up with that many siblings but I’m sure there are a lot of stories to tell there!
Bob moved to Sudbury in 1971 where he completed his high school years at Lasalle Secondary.
After high school, Bob moved to Cornwall where he obtained his Truck and Coach and Automotive Service Technician certificates.
He worked for Canadian Tire in Cornwall as the service manager until 1979 after which he ran Rosemount Tire in Brockville. This is where he met his future wife Lori.
During a family outing at a brothers’ cottage in 1981, Bob had a diving accident where he shattered several vertebrae and severed nerves in his neck leaving him paralyzed. A life altering event such as this did not keep him down.
Doctors were not optimistic, but Bob overcame the paralysis and although not able to continue work as a mechanic, he persevered and used his automotive experience and knowledge to take his career along a different path.
After his recovery, he moved back to Sudbury and began working for his brother, Roger, at Mobile Parts Inc. as an outside Salesman.
At the time Mobile Parts Inc. was heavily concentrated in the truck parts field and operated out of a small location on Highway 69 in Val Caron. Gradual diversification into the mining industry helped the business grow substantially and Bob became the General Manager in 1990.
Bob has seen the ups and downs of the mining industry and has helped the company grow from about 10 employees to its current staff of over 60. MPI-Mobile Parts Inc. is now a full-blown Global Mining Parts Supplier serving customers in over 30 countries.
The manufacturing of underground special purpose vehicles is a major part of the business and one that Bob is very proud of.
Quality and service is # 1 and nothing leaves the shop without thorough inspections and testing. Being ISO certified, MPI has always been quality driven, and Bob continually instills this in his employees. Service, Service, Service is something we hear at the office often!
During the recessions of 1990 and 2008, Bob saw opportunities to develop the business by expanding into the export market.
He led his sales team and made contacts overseas and obtained new customers in several countries. He was also instrumental in obtaining new parts contracts from several Canadian mining companies.
Both initiatives helped increase sales and were part of the reason that MPI was able to survive and even thrive during the hard times.
Bob has definitely weathered the mining “storm” of recessions and good times and has been able to grow the company to what it is today through his dedication and perseverance.
He works all the time (so it seems), and a nine to five job is not in his vocabulary! He is an early riser – often at work before 7am, and I’ve often heard him tell me that he thought of this or that at 3 in the morning.
He works late and even when he is supposed to be on vacation, we get calls at the office from him, and he is never far from his laptop.
Since the dawn of cell phones, Bob has had one glued to his hips.
Rhonda, our purchasing manager remembers the large Motorola phone with the big antenna and the satellite bag phone that he used to carry around, thank goodness for the small iphone he has now. Mind you, perhaps if he still had one of those large phones, maybe he wouldn’t have lost his iphone…. twice last year!!!!!
Bob is an avid golfer, although he doesn’t get out as much as he should.
He enjoys spending time with his family, wife of 24 years – Lori, three children David, Jentje and Korina and his 5 grandchildren (with one more on the way!)
Bob and Lori are Florida Snow-Birds and relish a bit of down-time in the sun during our cold winter months. As soon as Bob sees snow on the ground, he is itching to pack up the motor home and head out. Only a few more weeks to go Bob!
In closing, I am honored to have been able to share a little insight into Bob’s life this morning with you all.
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 such as Bob at the helm!
CONGRATULATIONS ON THIS ACHIEVEMENT!
Rick Lemieux Sr
FORMER OWNER OF RDH
Good morning ladies and gentlemen, It is a great pleasure for me to be introducing my father at this year’s SAMSSA Hall of fame induction. I would like to also congratulate Bob Morin for his nomination.
Rick Lemieux was born in 1950 and raised on a farm in Alban, Ontario along with five younger brothers. Even at a young age, he was fascinated with machinery and being on a farm he was always around different types of equipment.
Now, one would think that he should have had enough to keep him amused and occupied but apparently not. At the age of eight he decided that he would engineer and build his first prototype go-cart. Now he realized in order to succeed the biggest hurdles were time and money. The most important was money and it was pretty clear that getting financial backers for his project was not even something to consider. Therefore he had to design with whatever he could find on the farm. The other hurdle was time. Now imagine that on a farm back in those days, hours were used to survive and put food on the table and there was no way that my grandfather would accept playing on a go cart especially since Rick was the oldest of the sons and there were plenty of chores to be done. He decided on a particular day when his parents were gone for the day to take apart a garden roto-tiller and convert it to this go-cart. After some hard work he was driving down the gravel road with a smile of success on his face. Even though he was missing a few minor ‘un-important things’…… brakes and clutch…….. he realized that he could do anything he put his mind to.
Time went on and at the age of 17, he jumped at an opportunity to apprentice as a heavy duty mechanic with the local John Deere dealer. He eventually moved over to the mining sector where he ended up as Maintenance Superintendent for a mining contractor.
It was not until May of 1985 that he decided to take a leap of faith and go into business for himself. I remember the day vividly as he knew he needed a helper and for some reason without even I knowing, I had all the criteria he required in an good employee – I was available and worked for cheap.
Now as many of you know, they say the secret to any successful business is a good business plan. And this was no exception for my dad has he had it all well thought out and planned. The day he told me we were going in business. I said, “Ok, what do we do next”? He immediately responded. “First we are going to clean out the garage in the back yard and then look for work”. What I did learn that summer at the age of 15 was that really all you truly need to succeed in life is to be determined and work hard. Before we knew it dad was getting contracts with the local wood mills as a diesel and hydraulic repair specialist. Not too long after the mining industry heard that he was in business and started calling for his services as he was known as one of the best jumbo tune-up men technicians.
The business grew. He started purchasing old mining equipment that we would rebuild and most often he would add a little of his ingenuity to making his own improvements whether it be for safety, productivity or reliability reasons which he would re-sell as an improved product.
As the mid 90’s arrived, Rick was now starting to create his own products and by the end of 1999, his first one boom electric/diesel hydraulic DrillMaster jumbo was ready to be launched on the market. I distinctively remember asking my father who was extremely happy with his new product how was he ever going to compete against the big guys in the drilling business and whether he would he ever make a single sale in this market. Once again, he showed me that with determination and hard work that he would succeed. He continued developing more and more models and today his equipment can now be found operating on nearly every continent – Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America.
One of the last products he developed before selling his company in March of 2011, which I believe he was most proud of was his new battery operated loader. He truly felt like he had come up with a product that would offer the mining industry a solution to ventilation challenges and meet the ever-increasing demand for safer and cleaner mining environment.
Here are Rick’s other accomplishments over his years:
- He was the original founder of Rock-Tech back in 1999. This company is now owned by his two sons, two nephews and his youngest brother.
- Where RDH satisfied Rick’s mechanical inclinations he was still searching for an outlet to help fulfill his spiritual and musical interests. In 2001, Rick and his wife, Daniele, set out on a business venture that would provide him with this opportunity to purchase a rustic tourist lodge in the Monetville area and named it Saenchiur Flechey Resort, developing it into a world-class establishment. The resort allowed Rick to play music, guide pontoon boat tours, and impart Metis traditions and local legends to his guests. The resort continues to provide guests with unique opportunities to learn about the local environment and cultures and in September 2011, it won the Ontario Edmond Chevrier award for Tourism, Arts and Entertainment.
Rick has won numerous other awards over the years such as:
- Northern Region Gold Award for Market Expansion for Excellence in Exporting
- Phoenix Award for exportation
- Ontario Global Traders Market Expansion Gold Award
I would like to end, by saying Dad I’m very proud of your accomplishments and it is people like you, Bob Morin, the other past SAMSSA Hall of Fame Inductees as well as all other current and past entrepreneurs in our communities that have founded this industry with their courage, determination, hard work and innovation.
Thank you everyone.