Canadian Mining Journal


Saskatchewan association grows its membership

Saskatchewan suppliers' association sees strong growth with win-win approach

A DEMOday panel, organized by the Saskatchewan Industrial and Mining Suppliers Association. CREDIT: SIMSA

The Saskatchewan Industrial and Mining Suppliers Association’s (SIMSA) membership has grown by 132% to over 170 members since November 2016.

Formed in March 2013, SIMSA’s membership now represents well over $15 billion in annual revenues and over 15,000 employees. Membership fees are close to covering annual operating expenses, and with the additional revenues from events, the association is self-sufficient without government funding. All of this has happened with an engaged board, a brilliant half-time administrative assistant, and a full-time executive director.

At the core of this growth is a belief that “we are all in this together,” which enables the supply-chain (SIMSA) and resource producers to work closely together.

As a guiding set of principles, SIMSA works towards enabling SIMSA members to earn more money via:

  • face-to-face networking events;
  • business education events;
  • representing members via lobbying efforts; and
  • informing members of current events, rather than focusing on social events.

SIMSA also aims to build partnerships with industry, government, and other associations by being supportive of positive behaviour and politely/quietly pointing out the negative.

SIMSA requires regular members to be physically located in Saskatchewan with a permanent bricks and mortar location, have at least three employees, and be PST and WCB registered in the province. By doing so, SIMSA is unlike many other business associations that only require having an “interest” in the province.

As such, when SIMSA speaks with resource companies about doing an event together, they typically reply “yes” for two reasons.

First, they know they are working with the Saskatchewan supply chain. In short, the resource companies want to work with local suppliers – we make it easier for them by identifying the local companies via our vetted list (membership in SIMSA); this is strengthened by SIMSA requiring a company to have its corporate head offices in Saskatchewan to be eligible for board seats.

Second, we are focused on procurement; the resource companies know we are their partners in building the sector – we are an advocate, not an adversary.

SIMSA has begun development of the Saskatchewan Suppliers Database with the support and cooperation of the government of Saskatchewan, Mosaic, TransCanada, and Nutrien (others are expected to join shortly). This database will allow them to quickly identify Saskatchewan suppliers of various goods and services.

Recognizing that “if they do well, we do well,” SIMSA was supportive of the PotashCorp/Agrium merger when it was proposed.

At the time, we stated: “The PotashCorp and Agrium merger allows two Canadian champions to become one larger one; it allows them to achieve the scale and scope to be globally competitive into the future. This, in the long run, is good for the province, jobs, and investors.”

We went on to say that: “SIMSA would expect that our relationships with PotashCorp and Agrium, which have been great, would continue into the future and become stronger.

As such, we look forward to a renewed focus on prioritizing Saskatchewan vendors in the support of all our ongoing operational success.”

Roundtable events

Following this, SIMSA hosted our first roundtable event with PotashCorp, which then led to similar events with others, including Cameco, BHP Billiton, Mosaic, and K+S. These events have been the major driver behind SIMSA’s rapid growth. At the session where the roundtable concept was developed, PotashCorp noted our support of the merger.

The roundtable event sees the resource companies send executives, procurement staff, and community persons to meet one-on-one with SIMSA members. They are seated individually around the room, with SIMSA members able to choose who they sit with. After lunch there is a presentation, followed by a free-flowing two-hour networking session. SIMSA submits a series of questions in advance, which become part of the resource companies’ presentation, as well as the Q&A session.

SIMSA developed a set of Aboriginal Inclusion guidelines for its members, which further reflects a cooperative effort between our members, the resource companies, and the Aboriginal/ Indigenous communities. These guidelines and SIMSA’s previous roundtable events, led to the “SIMSA Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) PotashCorp Business Forum; Growing Together,” which saw the supply chain sit with the economic development arm of the seven Saskatoon Tribal Council First Nations and 18 people from PotashCorp to discuss business opportunities. The three groups spent the day learning of STC’s membership’s economic opportunities and desires, Potash- Corp’s procurement plans and opportunities, and spent time in discussions. This event has become the first of a series.

SIMSA recently backed the resource sector in a letter to federal Minister of Environment Katherine McKenna. We noted that the sector requires policy stability for investment to occur, and that if the producing/pipeline companies are burdened by policies or do not receive stable/prompt regulatory approvals, the supply chain suffers.

SIMSA, the government of Saskatchewan, and the Saskatchewan Mining Association (SMA) host an annual Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum. The forum sees procurement presentations by SMA members, a tradeshow featuring the supply chain, and various keynote presentations.

The event has grown to see over 330 mining company and 1,000 mining supplier personnel attend, plus over 225 exhibitors.

As a final example, SIMSA worked with the International Minerals Innovation Institute (IMII) to host the first ever Innovation Award as well as DEMOday. These efforts saw SIMSA member companies have their products and companies critically reviewed by a panel of Saskatchewan resource sector buyers and decision makers. The DEMOday panelists were a who’s who of decision makers from BHP Billiton, Cameco, K+S, Mosaic and Nutrien.

In summary, SIMSA’s success is a result of a businessfocused group of Saskatchewan people, working together towards a common goal – our mutual business success. As such, SIMSA will continue down this road and all will benefit.

After all, we are all in this together.

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