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.