Alumni Engagement

Polytechnic Proud – and all about people for Magellan Aerospace General Manager

April 5, 2024

Technology, innovation, and global connectivity all drive success in the aerospace industry.

Ron Drepaul, Business Administration graduate and General Manager of Magellan Aerospace Winnipeg, cites an additional factor.

“Relationships are the bedrock of our business,” said Drepaul, 58. “We spend a lot of time fostering strong relationships with our customers and our suppliers. And really engaging with the people in our building.”

With a current complement of 700 employees in Winnipeg, Magellan engineers, manufactures, and services components for aerospace markets all over the world. This includes advanced products for defense and space markets, as well as complementary specialty products. Winnipeg is the largest operation for Mississauga-based Magellan, which in 2022 generated $764.6 million in revenue.

Drepaul joined the company in 1988, “pretty much right out of Red River,” taking a job on the shop floor. After a few months, he took on responsibilities in production control and material planning.

Then, a big change: Drepaul became a contract administrator. Now he was preparing long-term pricing proposals, negotiating pricing, reviewing existing contracts, explaining terms to stakeholders, analyzing risks, and maintaining contract records.

“That job was in line with my education. I was in the role for eight years. It helped me understand the business.”

Drepaul’s ascent continued. He became responsible for Magellan’s relationship with one of its major customers, General Electric Aviation.

Next, with a move into purchasing, he went from dealing with the customer to dealing with suppliers.

“It’s really a natural extension when you think about it – the supplier is another kind of customer.”

Drepaul rose in this area to become Magellan’s Director of Corporate Procurement. He became involved with strategic sourcing, agreements, and standardizing processes across a globally expanding organization.

Among his accomplishments, he led a team that established and implemented a proprietary system to build consistency in manufacturing across Magellan’s divisions.

The job took him all over the world.

“I was getting involved with our emerging market strategy. I was dealing with our own company, key suppliers, and joint ventures.”

The frequent travel took its toll.

“Over a period of five years, I was only at home in Winnipeg for two consecutive weeks twice. I was married. We had two young boys, and they were calling me uncle,” Drepaul joked.

In partnership with his employer, he was able to alter his career path to travel less and be in Winnipeg more for his family.

In June 2024, he’ll mark three years as General Manager.

“By no means was I ‘ready’ for each role,” said Drepaul. “This latest role came sooner than I thought. It was a little surreal at times when I would leave or walk in and think, ‘I run that joint!’ It was challenging, exciting, and scary.”

Drepaul was eleven when his family emigrated from Belize to Winnipeg, settling in the Morse Place neighbourhood. Coming to Canada from the one-time British colony, he arrived fluent in English. Language aside, he had doubts about his new home.

“We came in September 1977 and the weather just got worse. I went to be bed going, ‘I’m going to wake up tomorrow in Belize. This is not real.’”

Good-hearted people made a huge difference. He recalls a trio of Grade 6 classmates at Kent Road School.

“There were three young men who took me under their wings. David, Kelly, and Chris, you made me feel welcome as an immigrant.”

He remembers a special teacher as well.

“On the day before it was going to snow, my teacher took me out to the field, by myself. And said, ‘tomorrow you’re going to wake up to something you’ve never seen before and it’s going to be spectacular.’ And it snowed that night. Next day, she took me out again and said, ‘what do you think?’ I’m on a quest to find Ms. Ludwig. I just want to hug her and say thanks,” Drepaul said.

“As the years have gone by, I’ve recognized the influence people have on us, and what an influence we can have on others.”

His parents’ view of a better life for Ron and his sister included education. After graduating from Kildonan East Collegiate, Drepaul chose RRC Polytech.

“There was no debate or discussion in our house – I was going to get a post-secondary education,” he said with a laugh.

The college left an impression on Drepaul.

He remembers the second-year Business Administration project in which students developed their own ideas to launch a business. His group started a sporting goods store, complete with a business plan and a presentation.

“I loved my time at Red River. I look back at my experience with fondness.”

One of his instructors was Larry Partap, who went on to become Chair of the Creative Arts department at RRC Polytech. Partap passed away in 2023.

“He was such a sweet guy. Years after graduating I would often run into him, and he’d be eager to hear about my career.”

Having built that career over more than 35 years with Magellan, Drepaul said RRC Polytech is vitally important for the company’s ongoing success.

“It’s a pipeline of young talent. Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) is an important program for us. I push the program to anyone I can who has a technical math or mechanical skill set.”

“And it’s not just technology. We need all kinds of professionals. Business Administration is essential for us. We employ accountants, buyers, contract administrators, and program managers.”

First-year MET students can apply to work at Magellan in co-operative roles, Drepaul added. A co-operative education program integrates a student’s academic studies with work experience.

His advice to new hires?

“We all bring our education. Hard work and a good attitude will help you stand out. Those are the two things I brought with me.”

Drepaul is also vice chair on the Manitoba Aerospace Association board of directors. He’s optimistic about the industry’s future.

“Winnipeg needs capabilities. Along with Magellan, there’s Boeing, Standard Aero, smaller companies. Post-Covid, demand for commercial airplanes is growing. The industry is bright, and we need skilled people.”

Profile by Randy Matthes (Creative Communications, 1993).

RRC Polytech campuses are located on the lands of Anishinaabe, Ininiwak, Anishininew, Dakota, and Dené, and the National Homeland of the Red River Métis.

We recognize and honour Treaty 3 Territory Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, the source of Winnipeg’s clean drinking water. In addition, we acknowledge Treaty Territories which provide us with access to electricity we use in both our personal and professional lives.

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