2015 Hall of Fame

Paul Villgren

Sling Choker Manufacturing Ltd.

Born December 6, 1945 he moved to Sudbury from Finland in 1951 with his mother, sister and brother. His father arrived 1 year earlier to get established, he worked at Inco. My father went to College Street Public School. For the first few weeks he would hide under the porch of his house instead of going to school because no one could talk Finn. (Although he would come home for lunch telling his mother that all was good at school)

His early career started with a paper route and working at Rene’s Service Station on Long Lake Road
When the shop was full and all the mechanics were busy he would go out and do service calls with the tow truck ( by himself ) to help out customers at that time he was 15 years old. He then got a job at the Dominion grocery store because he would drive his own car to work, When they ran out of some items the manager would send my Dad in the managers Station wagon to get items from some of the other Stores to replenish stock. “ It was the fastest station wagon I ever drove “ my father would say. He was still 15 years old at the time. He went to school at the Haileybury school of mines and after graduating worked for both Inco and Falconbridge in the mining engineering departments for a total of 3 years.

He wanted to be in Sales and went to work for the Hugh J O’Neil company and worked for them for 5 ½ years selling mining equipment and supplies He saw an opportunity to sell rigging supplies so he borrowed $ 5000.00 from his father to buy a press and start, Sling Choker Manufacturing.
It became successful and he opened other locations from Elliot Lake to S.S.M all across Ontario and Quebec with a total of 13 locations. His Philosophy was if he couldn’t sell them an apple he could sell them an orange he kept working on getting more lines of products to sell.

He then started another company with one of his partners called Ground control Canada’s first manufacturer of Resin cartridges also making rock bolts and rebar bolts. They patented cable bolting which enabled the mines to work safer and more efficiently in the mining cycle.
He traveled around the world to export product even selling to India for one of the largest dam projects at the time.

He started Willet conveyors which manufactured conveyor rolls and idlers for the Mining, pulp and paper and aggregate business.
Purchased Soucie Salo Safety in 1988 with another business Partner Don Heaphy. Started Rezplast Manufacturing that builds and manufactures products from fiberglass and plastic. Purchased LOB Blasting Mat in Sturgeon Falls which makes blasting Mats for the construction Industry,.
In the year 2000 He started Industrial Fabrication which manufactures underground utility vehicles for the mining Industries. When computers started becoming more of a tool used in the business, He started with another partner in 2005 Rock solid computer services to service the computers for all the sister company’s.

He has also invested in the food Industry in the Sudbury Area which has grown very well. Under the group of all the company’s there are over 400 people employed. Some of his business philosophy has been to hire the best people including managers, sales people, mechanics, Parts people and customer service. Don’t be afraid to empower the people, when you have good people good things happen. A few other accomplishments he was a volunteer fireman, Northern Ontario Business award. Entrepreneur recipient 1995, Chairman of the board Ducks Unlimited Sudbury were they tripled the revenue from the previous years, for both years he was there. On the Board of Directors for Norcat. He still enjoys going to work and still has his same office at Sling Choker, He does take Fridays off So he can go to camp on Manitoulin Island. Both my parents do go to Florida for a few weeks in the winter to get away from the cold. Perhaps someday he might retire full time but that doesn’t seem very likely. Mostly because I think Mom won’t let him.

André Ruest

B&D Manufacturing Ltd.

My father Andre Ruest was born in 1961 and spent the first nine years of his life in a small northern Ontario town known as Cartier. He is part of a big family, the 8th of 9 children having 6 sisters and 2 brothers. It was there, in this small knit community that the love and respect of family, the great outdoors and hockey began and remains still today as part of his humanity. When Andre was nine the Ruest family moved to the big city of Azilda, Ontario; where the family matriarchs still reside today.

It is hard to believe, but my father did have a life outside B&D. My father has always been a very passionate man, 100% dedicated to everything that he undertook, both at work and at home. He was known by his loved ones as the man who can do it all. Everyone could rely on him for anything. Selflessness was second nature to him. He loved helping others, and being able put a smile on the face of the people he loved.
My father has always been the answer man. While he didn’t always have an immediate answer to all of our questions, or an instant solution to our problems, he would always think it through thoroughly and eventually come up with a plan of action. His level of organization, meticulousness and attention to detail has always been an integral part of any of my father’s projects. As he would say repeatedly, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” His creativity, persistence, integrity and drive have allowed him to achieve many great things. I speak on behalf of my brothers and myself when I say that we have learned the most from my father. He has taught us to be the best we can be, to strive for what we want and to never give up on dreams.
My father’s success, both as a businessman, and as a father is reinforced by his strong work ethic, and discipline. He loved the work he did but what he loved even more was his family. My father was the ultimate family man and never missed one of our activities and family trips. He was also our #1 fan. While we knew our father was very busy with work, our family life was never compromised as a result of working long hours, or having to work on weekends. This was possible because of all the sacrifices he made. Very often, my father would begin his day at 3:00am, to catch up on work, so that he could spend his evenings and weekends with his family. He enjoyed spending quality time with us and was determined to be an integral part of our lives, which he was.
My father enjoyed the simple pleasures in life. Being connected to nature was his way of rejuvenation. His idea of a perfect evening was spent at the cottage, sitting by the fire, and gazing at the moon and stars. He taught us so much, but what he taught us the most is that happiness is not found in what you acquire and accumulate. That it is important to appreciate the wonders that surround you every day and to be thankful. Each day that goes by, I feel my father’s presence in my surroundings; through the sun, the moon, the stars, and yes even the clouds and the rain. For him this was so peaceful.
But what about my father and his journey with B&D Manufacturing?
After graduating, his grade 13 from École Secondaire Rayside, he was approached with a job offer as a Machinist Apprentice by his brother-in-law, Gerald Dubois. Although he had a partial university scholarship to play hockey and study electrical engineering, in the fall of 1980, Andre decided to stay with B&D Manufacturing to pursue a career as a machinist. Andre has said that from the beginning, his sense was that this company was built for the long-term. His perseverance, loyalty and dedication continued from the early years, going on-site and performing demonstrations of the Portable Align Boring Machine, to 1988 when he was promoted to the Production and Field Service Manager, to 1997, when after the tragic death of his brother-in-law Gerald Dubois, he took the role of General Manager and later, becoming the Vice President of Operations.
Andre was continuously thinking of a bigger picture.
He knew the potential of the company, recognized and fostered the talented crew that worked faithfully under his guidance, and committed his career to making this small town, Northern Ontario company world renowned while advocating for the industry in the North as a whole.
Under Andre’s leadership, B&D Manufacturing diversified and consistently reached new levels and new audiences. He led the company through the acquisition of Alo-Tech, a fabrication company based in Onaping, ON. He instituted a full New Product Development department, which resulted in a new truck and shovel maintenance product line. He developed B&D Manufacturing’s presence internationally, successfully on-boarding distributors around the globe.
But Andre would be quick to step in at this point and clarify that this was a team effort. He’s always made a strong point of communicating his appreciation to the team. In Andre’s Thought of the Month a few years ago, he said ‘The greatest resource our company will ever have is each other. When trust and skill work together, we can expect a masterpiece. Each day presents us with new opportunities and infinite possibilities.’ This ‘thought’ embodies Andre as a leader- and he is a true leader, in every sense of the word. He is an admired mentor to many and has earned the respect of all who have had the pleasure of working with him. Former US President John Quincy Adams said “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” Andre’s vision and his values will continue to push B&D forward, to new opportunities, looking ahead to a bigger picture as he’s always done. Andre as a leader has inspired many at B&D Manufacturing to dream more, learn more and do more.
I am honoured to share his story with you today and to accept this award on behalf of my father and the Dugas-Ruest family.
Thank you