A true testament to the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, John Gale has made a name for himself in two distinct realms — first blazing trails in the mineral drilling industry before setting his sights on real estate development in the Lake of the Woods region.
Having begun his career installing remote telephone systems in Northern Manitoba, Gale — a native of The Pas — moved to Winnipeg seeking greater challenges, later earning a diploma in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Red River College in 1980. From there, he began working in a research and development capacity for Delro Industries, then the manufacturing arm of Midwest Diamond Drilling.
With Gale leading the way, the company revolutionized the industry through the development of a new diamond bit capable of drilling rock at three times the speed of the technology it replaced.
“My assignment was to make something bigger, better, faster and more improved, and that’s what I did,” says Gale, the 2010 recipient of RRC’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
“It was pretty radical at the time … we had to go from a high-pressure, low-speed application to a very high-speed, low-pressure application — from a crushing motion to a grinding motion, basically. It wasn’t just an equipment change, it was a wholesale change, and with all the equipment and spare parts and safety issues to consider, it took a couple of years to get the whole thing off the ground.”
Gale and three of his business partners subsequently bought out Midwest in the mid-1980s, forming a new operation called Dimatec Inc. That company continued to develop innovative drilling products and manufacturing methods by assembling a strong and capable engineering team coupled with the most current technology available.
Dimatec racked up a number of awards and accolades on account of the strength, dedication and professionalism of its employees, among them certification from ISO-9000 Quality Assurance, a “Best in Business” award from Manitoba Business Magazine and membership in Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies.
In 2008, Gale decided to semi-retire in order to spend more time at his cottage on Lake of the Woods. But after only a few months, he was again bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, when presented with the opportunity to acquire a significant amount of property from AbitibiBowater, formerly the town’s largest employer.
Gale has since developed an ambitious plan to transform Kenora into a world-class tourist and business destination, one that includes the development of several major new resort and residential properties over the next decade.
“The development group I represent can virtually reinvent the town now to have it as a four-seasons destination,” says Gale.
“We’ve got a lot of people listening, a lot of local support, and a lot of government and industry support. The group has a lot of credibility and it will be busy for a long, long time, so that we can enhance the face of Kenora.”
Click here for more information on RRC’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program.