Getting to Know Patrick Martel
It’s not every day that we get the opportunity to visit an engineering workshop. So, needless to say, we were a little intimidated and incredibly curious when we set foot in Technosub, an international firm that develops mining pumps, among other things. It’s a major business in Rouyn-Noranda, and working here was actually one of Patrick Martel’s life goals.
“The company has always had an innovative business model, client approach, and product. That’s what really drew me in.”
Originally from Évain, Patrick studied at the CEGEP in Rouyn before pursuing mechanical engineering studies in Sherbrooke. Today, he is vice-president of innovation at Technosub.
“My job involves flying out 100 to 150 times per year to visit all the major mining centres and tunnels around the world. Our unique technology allows us to export our services absolutely anywhere. All mines have water management needs, and it’s our job to meet them. We use our creative flair to move the cleanest water possible. In 2009, we founded an applied engineering solutions department. We don’t just make pumps–we make pumps that are integrated within an entire system. At the time, this concept was brand new. Today, our goal is to be recognized as an innovative company in the clean energy, water treatment and mining sectors. In fact, we recently earned the Solar Impulse certification, which identifies 1,000+ profitable solutions to protect the environment based on the major UN sustainable development goals.”
THE SPARKLE IN HIS EYE IS NO DOUBT ONE OF PRIDE. BUT CAN “MINING INDUSTRY” AND “PROFITABLE ENVIRONMENTAL INNOVATIONS” TRULY COME TOGETHER?
“We make minerals, not cupcakes. So of course, there’s going to be an environmental cost to that. Fortunately, Abitibi-Témiscamingue is a leader in the industry. We have all the best practices; we know what to do as well as how and why to do it. I’m very proud to work in a region that’s responsible when it comes to mining.”
He invites us to slip on a pair of safety glasses and follow him into the shop.
“We were the first business in the region to be a part of the QG-100. Quebec Global 100 is a network of 100 exporting companies in Quebec. We’re often seen as the little brother who wants to help out… and that’s just perfect! We aren’t at the top, which means we have everything we need to innovate, yet we feel secure enough to make mistakes. We try out a ton of different things and have an entire portfolio of innovations. Sometimes it’s a total flop, but that doesn’t matter. When we fail, it means that we’re learning.”
Patrick is a simple guy who has remained humble and close to his roots, despite Technosub’s resounding success.
“It’s important to remember our origins. Not everyone has the creative capacity to survive in -30˚C weather while clearing land! We had no handbook on how to develop a mine in extreme climates. The temperature fluctuations are extreme, and the constraints are considerable. Those who colonized this region had to use their creativity, and that’s still part of our DNA today. We have the ability to export, but we don’t pretend to be better than anyone else.”
In the shop, everyone stops to greet him.
“We’ve always had this culture of hospitality here, that of welcoming people. We don’t see others as a threat; we understand that they’re here to help us. I remember when our newcomers arrived from the Philippines. I invited them to my cottage, where my son played us songs on the guitar and we walked through the forest. I told them, ‘I don’t want you to integrate. I want you to take root!’ Those are two very different things. When we integrate, we are part of the forest, but we become something like an artificial tree. When we plant our roots, that’s when a place truly becomes a home. It’s about being anchored yet remaining true to our culture. All our roots intertwine, and that’s what makes our region so beautiful.”
In fact, that merging of cultures is the very foundation of Collectif Territoire, which Patrick is involved with.
This non-profit organization brings together players from the industry and researchers alike. Its mission is to create a massive project to restore Lac Osisko. The project is centred around three different pillars: arts, culture and heritage, industries, and science.
“These three elements don’t normally work in harmony, but when we put them all together, magic happens. It’s an artistic triumph, but also a great achievement in terms of technology and research, since the challenges with the lake are monumental. Few projects in the world can truly integrate all three. And I think we’ll be able to complete it within the next six years.”
With so much going on, does Patrick still find the time to enjoy himself outside of work?
“We have so many projects with the kids. For me, it’s important to spend time with our children, to tell them we love them. To go kayaking, sailing and swimming with them in the summer, and to go cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. We have access to so many incredible options here.”
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