How the World-Class Drilling Services Company Cultivates Homegrown Talent to Sustain Global Operations
When he was 18 years old, Denis Larocque left his home province of New Brunswick, Canada, to complete a university degree in neighboring Québec. Little did he know he would someday return to lead one of the world’s largest drilling services companies.
With his new skills, Larocque found work in his chosen field as an accountant, eventually leading him to Major Drilling. Today, he heads the executive team as President and CEO. He’s joined by several top executives also raised in New Brunswick, who grow their careers as the company grows.
“To be part of New Brunswick’s continued rise in economic prosperity and improvement gives long-time residents like myself a sense of satisfaction. It energizes us to continue to thrive in our global endeavors,” he said.
A Major Player
Major Drilling is a business with an unbroken stream of New Brunswick-born success since 1980. Today, the company has field operations and offices in Canada, the United States, Mexico, South America, Asia, Australia and Africa. In 2020, the company celebrated its 40th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of its initial public offering. The company trades under Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) ticker symbol “MDI.”
Major Drilling is headquartered in Moncton, New Brunswick’s “Hub City,” holding an important position with its central inland location connecting manufacturing and emerging technology companies at the crossroads of the mining industry. While the landmass of New Brunswick is approximately the size of Germany, its population is just 780,000. This makes for a small, but mighty business community. New Brunswickers and their businesses are critical links in a supply chain connecting this unassuming region of the Maritimes to the global economy — including mining and mineral exploration drilling.
Inconspicuously thriving in its nook on historic St. George Street, the company primarily serves the mining industry. With a cadre of executives centralized in Moncton, this talented pool buoys the area’s steadily emerging economic presence. They cast a wide net of near and offshore operations including mineral exploration, blast hole drilling, surface and underground drilling and mine services. At their core is a strong corporate purpose with values of quality, safety and results.
Major Drilling’s head office and innovation headquarters employs just over four dozen of the company’s nearly 3,500-strong global workforce. The senior management team alone has more than 1,000 years of combined experience and expertise in the drilling industry.
“In addition to our leadership team, we have an extremely competent group of talented employees here in Moncton, many who have been with us for decades. This small, but powerful team does all they can to ensure our global operations are successful,” Larocque said.
He said it is also heartening to see talented professionals put down roots in New Brunswick for the first time. This includes two of Major Drilling’s operational vice presidents, Ashley Martin and Kelly Johnson, who moved to work in Moncton and enjoy the lifestyle the small city offers.
“It’s an attractive prospect to work and live where the quality of life and quality of professional advancement match what I’m looking for in a company,” Martin said. “I’m proud to call New Brunswick home.”
Leading the management roster is Denis Larocque, who joined Major Drilling in 1994, first as Corporate Controller, then as Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer until his appointment to Chief Executive Officer in 2015. He has deep knowledge of the mining industry and public companies as he leads employees on five continents operating a fleet of more than 600 drill rigs. He was recognized in 2020, as one of Atlantic Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEOs in the region.
Other New Brunswickers include Ian Ross, Chief Financial Officer; Andrew McLaughlin, Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel; Marc Landry, Vice President of Technology and Logistics; Ghislain LeBlanc Corporate Controller; Eugenie Embree, Director of Finance; Alex Landry, Director of Tax; and Tara McQuade, Financial Controller – Canada.
Ross brought his New Brunswick and Nova Scotia education to a Toronto accountancy firm where he exceled in his field before returning to New Brunswick. He started with Major Drilling first as Director of Tax in 2011 and then as Chief Financial Officer in 2019.
McLaughlin grew up in New Brunswick’s capital city, Fredericton. He worked for nearly a decade in the Canadian Foreign Service, working at embassies in Mexico and Cuba. After distinguished service, he returned to New Brunswick to join Major Drilling in 2015. Recent work includes development of the company’s ESG (environmental, social, and governance) framework and policies.
Marc Landry studied at the Université de Moncton. After further study in accounting, he then worked in Montreal, Québec, first for one of the “Big 5” accounting firms, and later for a multinational manufacturing company. After eight years, he returned to New Brunswick and joined Major Drilling as Corporate Controller in 2005 until his new role focusing on innovation and technology in 2015. This includes new TrailBlazer innovation initiatives like the SafeGrip automated rod handler.
Also a Université de Moncton graduate, LeBlanc worked as an accountant in Ottawa, before returning to New Brunswick in 2015. He quickly advanced through several controller positions before advancing to his current role.
Denis Larocque, President & CEO
Andrew McLaughlin, VP Legal Affairs & General Counsel
Ghislain LeBlanc, Corporate Controller
Alexandre Landry, Director of Tax
Ian Ross, Chief Financial Officer
Marc Landry, VP Technology & Logistics
Eugenie Embree, Director of Finance
Tara McQuade, Financial Controller – Canada
Like Larocque, Eugenie Embree is a Major Drilling long-timer, having joined the company in 1996. She is part of the financial group along with Alex Landry and Tara McQuade.
These ambitious, highly capable members of Major Drilling’s team represent just a few of the province’s shining stars. They are driving innovation and top-level governance as Major Drilling continues to be a leader in the mining industry.
Paying It Forward
Major Drilling believes in bringing positive contributions to the communities where it does business through environmental, social and governance initiatives. Those efforts start at home where donations of time, funds and even follicles to New Brunswick charities are part of Major Drilling’s culture of caring.
Major Drilling contributes, often through employee contributions, to worthy causes including youth programs and a shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Now in his seventh year as CEO, Larocque still feels it is a tremendous honor to lead a company that is one of Canada’s truly international success stories.
“We have found that we have some great talent coming back to New Brunswick to work here. We’re seeing how having large companies is attracting talented professionals to return home or put down roots for the first time,” he said.
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