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International markets provide the challenge; Letts has built Continuous Mining Systems from the ground up.

Dale Letts is devoted to the challenge of expanding export markets for Canadian mining equipment.

It was because of this devotion that Inco Ltd. offered Letts the opportunity to start Continuous Mining Systems Ltd. (CMS) in 1984. It is also one reason why Letts has been named Executive of Year.

Our judges selected Letts to receive the award, sponsored by Air Ontario, because the executive has global vision and a proven track record of making money, creating jobs and maintaining good employee relations.

Since Letts launched Continuous Mining Systems in October 1984, the firm has grown from a one-man operation to a $40-million manufacturing firm with an international reputation. The Sudbury company's sales have increased by 35 per cent each year.

In addition, Continuous Mining Systems acquired LHD Equipment of North Bay in 1989 and John Clark Inc. (JCI) of Denver, Colorado in 1990.

LHD Equipment employs 70 people and manufactures hydraulic cylinders and components for sales in North and South America.

JCI manufactures mining scoop trams and trucks for use in underground mining operations in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Peru and Australia.

In all, Continuous Mining Systems and its two subsidiaries employ about 300 people in Sudbury, North Bay and Denver.

Letts, a native of North Bay, began his career with Jarvis-Clark, a prominent Canadian heavy-equipment manufacturer.

Letts spent 13 years with Jarvis Clark, including five as vice-president, before moving to Sudbury to help start the Ontario Centre of Resource Machinery Technology. It was in this position that he became involved in the CMS venture.

In the early stages of the business, Letts concentrated on product design and domestic sales, but with the success of the company he has been able to turn most of his attention to international sales.

"I think that is what I enjoy the most, seeing an industry built in Northern Ontario and watching it expand across the world," he says. "A Canadian company competing with the entire world is very satisfying to watch."

CMS has made sales to clients in such countries as the U.S., India, Chile, Peru, Sweden, Australia and China. It is presently negotiating with other mining companies in other Pacific-rim countries.

A new CMS subsidiary company, CMS Pacific Ltd., has recently been added in Australia. It has branches in Brisbane, Perth, Kalgoorlie, Sydney and Melbourne.

Letts hopes that companies such as this one will help convert Canada from an importer of mining equipment and technology to a domestic supplier and exporter of mining equipment.

Letts says the challenge of building a company from the ground up and turning it into a commercially successful venture is attracting the right people.

He believes it is essential to hire qualified personnel and then provide them with the responsibility, the authority and the tools necessary to work efficiently.

"You need people that can work as an actual team. I think that has been my strength - finding, attracting and holding the interest of good people."

Letts's ability to delegate authority, combined with his knowledge of the business, is largely responsible for the rapid growth of Continuous Mining Systems.

Letts is chairman of the mining equipment section of the Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing Association of Canada, as well as a member of both the Canadian Mining Equipment and Services for Export Association and the Canadian Institute of Mining Metallurgy.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Northern Ontario Business Awards; Executive of the Year awardee Dale Letts
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Previous Article:Consultative sales approach produces results; equipment dealer evolves into a computer service firm.
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