The SAMSSA brings strength and prosperity

The SAMSSA's No. 1 goal is to promote the expertise of its mining supply and service members

by Karen Kornelsen
Photo of Dick DeStefano

Dick DeStefano is the executive director of Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association. — Photo courtesy Dick DeStefano

The Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA) represents the interests of the greatest concentration of expertise in mining supply products and services from within what is considered to be the most recognized centre of excellence worldwide.

The SAMSSA's executive director, Dick DeStefano, is one of the founders of the association, which currently represents 120 members, including organizations in North Bay and Timmins as well as Sudbury. 

The SAMSSA started in 2003 when DeStefano recognized there were more than 350 mining supply and service companies situated in Sudbury, yet they had never formed an organization or chamber to join together to create an international brand.

"Historically, this was not a pattern for independent business people in any regional area," said DeStefano. "It was very competitive and companies did not want to reveal their networks or intelligence."

Getting it all rolling

So DeStefano took a year off without pay to focus on developing relationships with mining suppliers. He went to the local government and informed them of his idea—that there is value in exporting basic competencies, especially with underground mining, on a worldwide basis. He said from here, the association went from four members in 2003 to 25 in 2005 to 120 in 2012.

"So as the association began to grow, business grew," said DeStefano. "So we started to brand companies, sent out stories and new releases, and started a relationship with a mining solutions journal who saw the value in banding together and establishing ourselves."

DeStefano said in 2010 there was over $6.3 billion in sales, and from the period when the SAMSSA started, the export of products and services went from only three to four per cent to 30 per cent. Then DeStefano looked at the employment figures and realized there were more people in the mining supply and service industry in northern Ontario than there was in all of the mining, extracting and refining jobs in northern Ontario—almost double.

"All of a sudden, we were an oasis within the world complex of mining activity," said DeStefano. "We are probably the third largest in size and body of sales of any other place in the world, but the most important thing in Sudbury and northern Ontario is the concentration and relation to distance. Everyone is within 150 miles of each other, which makes for an instant response and quality services. We are not promoting companies, we are promoting our intelligence in the region. We are the centre of expertise in underground mining."

Bringing a diversity of experience

DeStefano's extensive knowledge of the industry stems from his passion for economic development. He has a long history of involvement in the community in a number of capacities, including as a Sudbury regional councillor for seven years, a commissioner on the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission for five years, chair of Sudbury’s Community Leisure Plan, chair of the Ontario Summer Games, educator, executive director of the Northern Ontario Teleconference Network and more.

DeStefano also completed a comprehensive economic community-based strategy for the Regional Municipality of Sudbury referred to as The New Way initiative. For this strategy, he designed and developed a process describing viable economic scenarios for the Region of Sudbury to the year 2010.

During the years 2000 to 2003, DeStefano acted as strategic planning consultant for a number of private corporations and cities in Canada; he utilized a unique asset model that assisted clients from small corporations to mid-sized communities in building and diversifying their cultures.

DeStefano also acted as the voluntary chairman of the 2011 Mining & Technology Week in Greater Sudbury and was actively involved in several educational activities that created awareness of the importance of mining and technological advances in the Sudbury mining cluster.

With the expertise of this founder and the combined knowledge of the SAMSSA members throughout the association, it's no wonder the SAMSSA is at the global forefront of underground mining expertise.

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