Rick Lemieux named to SAMSSA Hall of Fame
Founder of RDH Mining Equipment honoured by fellow suppliers
Rick Lemieux, the founder and driving force behind RDH Mining Equipment and recent inductee into the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association Hall of Fame, is a year and a half into retirement, but working harder than ever, which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows him.
Having sold RDH to a group of employees, including his son-in-law, Rick is busy operating the Saenchiur Flechy Resort on Lake Nipissing with his wife Daniele, developing subdivisions, building man-made lakes and waterslides…probably a few other things, too.
Rick is the classic go-getter and entrepreneur, an example of the elite breed of fellow mining suppliers who built the region’s mining supply and service cluster.
From humble origins as a farm boy with a knack for taking things apart and putting them back together in the tiny community of Alban, 60 kilometres south of Sudbury, Rick built RDH into a manufacturer of jumbos, loaders, roof bolters and trucks to mining companies all over the world.
At the age of eight, he began taking apart his father’s farm equipment to build buggies and go-karts, and at the age of 10, he was already welding. He studied heavy-duty mechanics at Centennial College in Toronto and Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie, and before long, he was taking apart and putting back together mining equipment, rising to mechanical superintendent for a mining contractor with projects across Canada.
Being on the road and away from his wife and three children much of the time was what finally persuaded him to go into business for himself.
“I’d be gone all week, sometimes two weeks at a time, so when you come home, you’re always the bad wolf,” he said.
The first customers of Rick’s Diesel and Hydraulics, still the legal name of the company, were the three sawmills around Alban, but Rick also knew a lot of people in the mining industry and gradually began getting rebuild jobs.
“At first, I was known mostly for remanufacturing used equipment,” he recalled. “Everybody knew that if you wanted to rebuild a piece of equipment and you wanted a good job, go to Rick. It was hard to shake that reputation because when I started manufacturing new equipment and went to a mining show, people would say, ‘You did a nice job rebuilding this, Rick,’ and I’d say no, no, this is brand spanking new.”
He also found time to found another company, Rock-Tech, which manufactures stationary rockbreakers and underground utility vehicles, and is owned by two of his sons, Rickey and Stephane, a brother and two nephews.
By the time he sold the business and “retired,” RDH mining equipment could be found operating on every continent, from beneath New York City’s Grand Central Station, to the steppes of Siberia and the mountains of Patagonia.
There were 65 people on the payroll and exports accounted for between 60 and 75 per cent of the company’s business.
To what does he attribute his success?
Aside from technical mastery, good business sense and personal charm, three things:
“If you’re gonna do it, do it right,” he said. “Never burn a bridge because you never know in the future if you have to recross it – that’s why I have so many friends. And for anybody who wants to have a challenge or a dream, follow your dreams.”
The mining industry hasn’t seen the last of Rick Lemieux. Who knows what he’ll do when there are no more subdivisions to develop and artificial lakes to build. You’re sure to see him at the mining shows though. He has too many friends from all over the world to catch up with.