The intrepid founders of CAMESE on the tarmac in Lima, Peru, in 1980. In the front row (L to R): Jon Baird, Scintrex (at the time); Peter Klopcic, Government of Ontario; Jean-Yves Roy, Jarvis Clarke; unknown company; Frank Aimone, Heath & Sherwood. In the back, left to right: Vic Defago, Hepburn; unknown; Bob Parsons, Sr. JKS Smit.
This year marks CAMESE’s (Canadian Association of Mining Equipment and Services for Export) 30th anniversary. The trade association has become a major
presence within Canadian industry, having been involved in export marketing promotion for the Canadian mining sector for three decades.
Managing director Jon Baird is proud of his association’s role. “In Canada, there are very few national export trade associations by sector,” he says, “so
really, we are very unique. There are all kinds of sectoral associations, but they don’t do export trade 100 per cent like we do.”
Much of this is done through CAMESE’s presence at trade exhibitions, particularly through organizing Canadian pavilions at these shows – around 10 every
year outside Canada. These pavilions generate substantial traffic for Canadian companies and, in the words of Baird, assure that Canada makes a splash.
CAMESE’s website boasts a searchable database of the more than 300 organizations and companies that the association represents. It also publishes
information on their membership in their annual Compendium of Canadian Mining Suppliers.
The idea of a trade association began during an Ontario mining sales mission to Chile and Peru in 1980 (the Ontario trade association OMESE was
incorporated in 1981). “Five years later,” explains Baird, “they realized that there was benefit in doing things not just for one province but for all of
Canada.” That’s when CAMESE was formed.
“When I joined in 1993, it was just me and a part-time receptionist,” he recalls. “CAMESE was broke. It had 28 members but half of them hadn’t paid.”
Reviving the association would be a challenge, but Baird had been hired for the strength of his vision. “My target was to get it up to 100 members within a
year. I spent a couple of months getting the 28 members onside and then virtually a year to the day later, we had our 100th member.” It took a few more
years, but eventually companies were calling him up, wanting to join.
The association’s mission remains straightforward. “CAMESE assists its member companies in marketing to the mining industry. We want the world to believe
that Canadians are wonderful suppliers to the mining industry, and we bring in business opportunities for our members.”
“We attract companies that serve the mining industry and that are looking for larger markets,” says Baird, who explains that it is his job to convince
those companies that “a little bit of effort put into a collective effort pays off.”
After 18 years with the association, Baird has grown accustomed to the boom-and-bust cycle of the market. “What we do for our member companies in the down
times is arguably more important than during the times when they’re really busy.”
Baird expects good things for the years ahead. “Certainly the mining industry has a very strong future, as does Canada as a leader in the mining industry,
which is what we are. Mining technology has progressed tremendously in the last 30 years, and over the next 30 years I have no doubt that will continue.”