Steve Matusch, the founder and president of Ionic Technology Group in Sudbury, has died at the age of 52.
Matusch died while in hospital on Wednesday, March 11, following an illness. He would have been 53 in November.
Respected and well-known throughout the Northern Ontario mining service and supply industry, Matusch founded Ionic Engineering Ltd. in 2000 with the goal of offering the best innovative solutions to problems faced by industry.
Ionic’s general manager, André Dumais, said five years ago, Matusch developed primary sclerosing cholangitis, which led to a rare and aggressive form of liver cancer in 2018.
In an effort to combat the illness, Matusch had undergone a live liver transplant, an experimental surgery, in September.
But around Christmastime, indications showed that the cancer had returned, and Matusch had been in hospital the last two weeks before his death.
Over the years, Ionic has expanded to include Ionic Mechatronics, Black Rock Engineering, Variant Mining Technologies, Synaptic Technologies, Ionic Automation, and Ionic Technologias in Chile.
Together, they provide various engineering services for clients in the metals processing, mining and mineral processing, oil and gas, pulp and paper, medical pharmaceutical, and automotive industries.
Across divisions, the company employs 150 people.
For its efforts, Ionic was recognized as the Company of the Year (51+ employees) by Northern Ontario Business in 2015.
A recent benchmark for the company was Variant Mining’s manufacture, last summer, of the world’s largest ore chute.
The massive steel chute, which helps transfer rock between levels of a mine, is as big as a house, and was manufactured at Variant’s Lively facility just outside of Sudbury.
It was installed at Rio Tinto’s Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia.
On the surface, Dumais said, his long-time friend and mentor was extremely intelligent, a “tech geek” who loved technology and all its applications.
“Really, that's the person everybody knew that he was: a good businessman with a really good technical capability and strong technical sense,” Dumais said.
But at his core, Dumais noted, Matusch was a dedicated family man, who was extremely proud of his children. He expressed hope that he would leave behind a legacy they would be proud to emulate.
“One of the final things he told me in his last couple of weeks was that he wanted his kids to know that he was a good guy,” Dumais said. “That was really important to him.”
Matusch was also extremely generous and felt a strong pull to give back to the community.
An avid runner who annually competed in marathons, Matusch was also the founding race director, along with Vince Perdue, of Sudbury ROCKS!, a local running club formed in 1998 for enthusiasts.
Each spring, the club hosts the Sudbury ROCKs! Marathon, with all proceeds going to the Northern Cancer Foundation in Sudbury.
Dumais said Matusch continued the hobby he loved up until just a few weeks before his surgery last fall.
Matusch also recently made a donation of $100,000 to the Sudbury Food Bank, which was his charity of choice.
“He was a big believer that people in this country shouldn’t go without,” Dumais said. “He would sometimes get emotional talking about it – that’s how important that particular issue was to him.”
Matusch leaves behind his wife, Christina, and his children, Brendon and Annika.
Funeral arrangements are currently on hold, in light of the coronavirus currently circulating.
Dumais said a small family gathering will be held in the interim, and a larger celebration of life will be planned for a later date.