Monday, November 11

Leadership Spotlight: Q&A with Rick Jamieson

Rick Jamieson is President & CEO of ABS Friction. Producing “Brake Pads REALLY Made in Canada”, Guelph-based ABS Friction is a leader in the automotive aftermarket industry, currently supplying to over 20 unique markets around the world. In the following Q&A, Rick shares with us his valuable insights on the topics of leadership and success.

TBR: How would you describe your leadership style and why has it worked so well for you?

RJ: I’d say “energetic” is the word that best describes my leadership style. The title on my business card is President & CEO, the CEO stands for “Chief Energizing Officer”. It promotes action, constantly reminding me that I am responsible for driving corporate strategy, business development and the bottom line. I am a devoted multi-tasker and one has to be energetic to make that work.

TBR: What do you see as your biggest challenge right now?

RJ: To have asbestos banned in Canada is my biggest challenge currently. It still is not banned in Canada and that is very frustrating. Consequently, the market is flooded with inferior foreign products, some of them containing asbestos. It is a very serious and insidious health hazard that the government must deal with. There are also a number of other toxic substances that need to be dealt with while we’re getting rid of asbestos, like copper, cadmium, mercury and lead.

After we conquer asbestos, the next challenge is to develop brake standards for the automotive aftermarket, also in my mind a no-brainer. So you want challenges – banning toxic substances and brake standards are obvious to me as well as just about anyone you talk with in the industry, yet both these issues remain unresolved.

TBR: What do you look for when evaluating top talent?

RJ: Attitude, first and foremost. Experience has taught me that the right attitude goes a long way to shaping the focus, style and work ethic of employees. Attitude is the key influencer of an employee’s choice of action and responses to challenges. People who have participated in team sports understand what having the right attitude means and they get it.

TBR: What was your first job in Industry?

RJ: I was originally trained as a public accountant and I specialized in tax. My first job was as a CPA for Touche Ross which eventually merged to become Deloitte.

TBR: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at age 20?

RJ: That in today’s business world – you not only have to work smarter and harder to beat the competition, you also have to work faster and harder. Slow and steady wins the race, is probably not all it’s cracked up to be in 2016, in the brake business!

TBR: Name your favorite/recent book(s) you have read:

RJ: I am an avid reader. But a recent favourite that resonated with me was Factory Man by Beth Macy. Macy tells the story of John Bassett III and how he battled, fought and won against offshore interests to save his family’s furniture business. By staying local he helped save an American town, a fascinating story and an inspirational entrepreneurial tale. I would recommend it if you believe in North American manufacturing.

TBR: What is your favorite quote and why?

RJ: “The world’s greatest time saver is love at first sight.” I heard the late Guelph MP Albert Fish, make this remark at his granddaughter Vanessa’s wedding and it resonated and stayed with me. I also think it’s true.

TBR: What has been the biggest contributor to your success at this point?

RJ: The biggest contributors to our success have been people, without a doubt. In particular, my two co-founders, Joe Schmidt, our Director of Research and Development who taught me the brake pad business and our first sales director, Ralph Neil, though he is no longer with the company.

ABS has been very fortunate in attracting the right people. As I said earlier what attracts me to talent is their attitude and the ABS team is full of great people with the right attitude.

TBR: Tell us a something that most people might not know about you or your organization.

RJ: Not many people realize that ABS Friction has maintained a full-time research and development department since 2000. Our LINK dyno has been known to work a lot of overtime benchmarking raw materials and the competition. We were recently asked by the TV show “Daily Planet” to test brake pads for them. The segment featuring my co-founder Joe Schmidt is on our we‎b site (

Another unknown fact is that ABS manufacturers more brake pad references from a single factory in Guelph, Ontario than just about anyone else in the world. Others may have a slightly larger range but no one does it from one location and they certainly can’t ship it from the same location.

About me – well, despite never missing a tee off time and being a member at 3 private golf courses, I have never had a hole-in-one.

About Rick Jamieson

A native of Guelph, Ontario, Rick is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo and is a licensed CPA. He has been elected a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (FCA), the highest designation that the Institute confers. A student of entrepreneurship and a dedicated lifelong learner, Rick is a graduate of the Ivey Quantum Shift Program, a graduate of the MIT/EO Birthing of Giants program and an annual participant in the MIT GOT Entrepreneurs’ Conclave.

About ABS Friction

ABS Friction is a Canadian family owned and operated industry leader in the manufacture and testing of premium disc brake pads for the automotive aftermarket industry.

Every ABS brake pad is manufactured at our Guelph, Ontario, Canada facility to ensure premium, reliable products each and every time. All ABS brake pads are 100% asbestos free and environmentally friendly. ABS supplies to over 20 markets globally through both private label and branded programs.

Safety really does matter at ABS Friction. Manufacturing quality, safe and reliable products is our #1 focus. We manufacture our products to the most stringent of quality standards. ABS is an ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 compliant, ISO 9001:2008 registered, Leafmark compliant and BEEP® registered manufacturing facility. For further information, visit:


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The Brake Report

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