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Industry giant quietly serving world from Walden

Atlas Copco is one of the world?s leading producers of underground mining and construction equipment. Dirk Plate, president of the construction and mining division, realized the action was in Sudbury not Montreal.

Atlas Copco is one of the world?s leading producers of underground mining and construction equipment. Dirk Plate, president of the construction and mining division, realized the action was in Sudbury not Montreal. His decision has been a win-win situation for his company and this community.

Dirk Plate (above) speaks proudly about the company?s employee relations and community initiatives.
Plate was honoured recently with a Community Builders Award of Excellence for Economic Development.

?With a company of Atlas Copco?s stature located in Greater Sudbury, their customers from around the globe are attracted here providing the opportunity to confirm our reputation as the mining supply and centre of expertise globally,? businessman Bob Bateman wrote in his letter of support to the CBA judges.

?Happily for Sudbury, Atlas Copco has been followed by their competition and colleagues in the industry, and the mining cluster has taken root and given this region a new economic vision,? Bateman, a former president of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce said.

Shortly after becoming president in 1997, Plate made the monumental decision to move the headquarters of Atlas Copco?s Construction and Mining Canada to Sudbury from Montreal. It was also decided to move the Secoroc Rock Drilling Tools division from Burlington to Sudbury.

Atlas Copco employs more than 170 people at its impressive sales and service office and inventory warehouse operation, which opened five and half years ago in the Walden Industrial Park. About 100 of these jobs were filled locally.

In addition to creating good jobs, Atlas Copco has secured important business relationships with many local suppliers and transport companies.

?Atlas Copco?s contribution to the community and long-term commitment to our region ensures a solid future for many local businesses, as they continue to play a key role in maintaining Sudbury?s status as a world mining leader,? says Bristol Machine Works office manager John Walford.

Bristol set up a separate manufacturing division to respond to demand from Atlas Copco locally and also supplies parts to its manufacturing division in Sweden.

Atlas Copco?s core values are interaction, commitment and innovation.

A significant attribute of Atlas Copco is its ability to listen, understand and satisfy the needs of its customers.

?We found that being close to our customers was a perquisite to being successful,? says Plate.

?We sell and service products to the construction and mining industry. We are committed to doing the best job for our customers in order to meet and exceed their expectations.

As a result of our commitment and customer focus we have considerably benefited.?

The office in Lively operates a 24/7 bilingual sales and service centre.

?Before, we were open five days a week, eight hours a day. When we moved to Sudbury, we did what our customers were doing: working seven days a week, 24 hours day,? says Plate.

The company also increased its inventory to make it ?tailor-made to suit? the needs of our customers.

Dirk Plate was born in Amsterdam and began his career as a marine engineer with Royal Dutch Shell. He joined Atlas Copco Group in 1971 and worked in many different positions in Europe.

Plate moved to Canada in 1993 to accept the position of president of Atlas Copco Compressors in Montreal, Que. From there he became president of the Construction and Mining division in 1997.

He and his wife Riet live in Greater Sudbury. Their two grown sons are both married and reside in Montreal.

Widely travelled, Plate enjoys what this area has to offer in terms of recreation: photography, rowing, swimming and cycling.

Both Plate and his marketing/communications manager Mike Mayhew speak proudly about the company?s employee relations.

?Dick is proud to have a company with a positive team spirit which results in a very low turnover of personnel. That tells you the way Atlas Copco deals with its people,? says Mayhew.

?I feel very honored to have a team that is motivated, happy and that always puts the customer first in mind ? first in choice.? says Plate.

Mayhew, who grew up in Greater Sudbury but moved to southern Ontario to pursue his career, is delighted to be back home and being part of the Atlas Copco team.

Other employees are also very happy to have been able to find well-paying jobs in their own backyard.

The company?s monthly lunch-and-learn sessions are well attended, explains Mayhew.

?Our employees have an opportunity to learn different aspects of our operations.

?Having a better understanding of the company helps them do their jobs better in order to meet our customers expectations, explains Mayhew.

Atlas Copco organizes regular staff activities such as charity barbecues, softball games and fun days.

Atlas Copco and its employees support the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation, the MCTV Lions Club Christmas Telethon, the Walden Winter
Carnival, the Walden Kinsmen Club, the Northern Ontario Junior Curling Championships, Sudbury Mining Week, Laurentian University, and the
Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival.

? Vicky Gilhula