Devon Rank

February 15, 2024

Top Rank Diamond Drilling Company thrives in Canadian mining industry

Devon Rank started Top Rank Diamond Drilling in 2006.

Red River Métis-owned Top Rank Diamond Drilling (TRDD) has worked in five provinces and three territories in Canada. With over 63 projects completed, owner Devon Rank has come a long way since starting the company in 2006.

The business owner said that even though diamond is in their name, they don't just drill for diamonds, but service the mining industry with the core samples. Core sampling is used for exploring the underground with a special drill to extract a cylindrical sample of material from below the surface, which is then checked for any ore, a natural solid material from which a metal or valuable minerals can be extracted.

"It's called diamond drilling because we use a diamond (drill) bit because it cuts the rock," he said. "We'll drill core sample for diamonds and uranium. Lithium is popular now with the electric cars and (batteries). So (we also drill for) zinc, gold, copper, silver, and rare earth metals."

Once TRDD drills the ore from an exploration hole, the company tries to grow the ore body.

"We're mapping out the geology of the ground with all these holes, so there's infill drilling, and they'll make a geological map based on the data of all the drill holes we've done, and it will prove how many ounces (of ore are) in the ground and how large the ore bodies are," said Rank.

The owner has been exposed to the drilling industry all his life, and started as a helper on the diamond drills when he was 18.

"My family has been involved in the drilling industry before I was born. My father, Richard, was a diamond driller all over Canada, and my older brothers Derek and Travis also followed in my dad's footsteps," Rank said.

"What inspired me is seeing the travelling my family did within the diamond drilling industries. The pay rate was also so much higher (than minimum wage)," he said. "My first job was in Stewart, B.C. I worked as a helper for six months. I was promoted to diamond driller and then a foreman shortly after."

Rank always dreamed of starting his own business, but was unsure how to finance a diamond drill at his young age. He recalled a family member mentioning grants he could apply for through the Manitoba Métis Federation's (MMF) affiliate lender, the Louis Riel Capital Corporation.

"I made a business plan of what it would take to get started," he said. "My application was accepted, and I couldn't believe it. The MMF grant provided me with the necessary funds to secure a loan, allowing me to purchase the equipment and resources needed to start the company."

The Red River Métis Citizen started Top Rank Diamond Drilling, located in Ste. Rose Du Lac, after working with his dad and brothers in Kelowna, B.C.

"The guy I was working for was retiring and offered me the opportunity to purchase one of his rigs to get started, and then I subcontracted through him," he said. "For the first five years, he groomed me into the industry, showing me how to bid on and set up contracts."

Red River Métis-owned Top Rank Diamond Drilling has worked in five provinces
and three territories in Canada, completing over 63 projects.

After that, TRDD kept expanding as the diamond drilling industry grew in demand. In 2011, Devon married his wife, Tammy Rank. The couple have two children: Weston, age 12, and Macey, age 9. When Rank is not working on a project, he takes the time to coach sports and spend time with his family. Tammy has been Top Rank Diamond Drilling's project manager since the company started and has taken pride in its rapid growth since its start in 2006.

"We started with having the company out of his parents' yard, running everything from his parents' house to then buying an acreage, building a huge shop, and being able to run everything through here," she said. "We also have a lot more employees, going from 10-11 steady guys, and now we have about 40-45 employees (during the summer.) So, that's been growth for us."

Top Rank Diamond Drilling operates year-round, but the peak of their work comes around the spring and summer seasons. The diamond drilling company has worked hard to ensure Indigenous representation is reflected in their staffing, with 75 per cent of the company's workers identifying as Indigenous.

"We understand that our employees are the backbone of our company, and their happiness and growth are vital to our success," said Rank. "We are committed to fostering a positive work environment and providing opportunities for our employees to develop their skills and advance in their careers."

The company undertakes a variety of drilling projects.

"We offer exploration drilling to public mining companies, we do core samples, we offer skid-mounted and heli-portable (drilling) rigs," Rank said. "Drilling can be done any time of the year. We've worked (anywhere from) on the side of mountains to drilling on the lake in winter."

Top Rank Diamond Drilling has also done turnkey projects where they've set up camps and provided a full-service camp with cooked meals for on-site staff.

The Red River Métis owner operates six diamond drills, which are transported by helicopter or can be skid mounted.

"All our drills can be dismantled for remote areas and break down into 1,800-lb lifts. We can dismantle all the equipment, move it into remote sites, and then reassemble it on site," he said. "Our rigs are some of the most efficiently flown rigs, so it saves clients helicopter time to bring this equipment in and set up."

Top Rank Diamond Drilling deploys heavy equipment, including bulldozers, excavators, mini track loaders, semis, trailers, trucks, and ATVs.

Now being in the industry for 18 years, the company has transitioned from growing their business to supporting their clients through the excellent services they provide.

"We've seen other companies in the past grow too quickly, and then, the level of service they provide is substandard. We prefer to keep it smaller and offer superior service to our clients," said Rank.

Devon and Tammy Rank have two children: Weston, age 12, and Macey, age 9. When Devon is not on a project, he takes the time to coach sports and spend time with his family.

Giving back to their community is always at the forefront of the Ranks' minds.

"We strongly believe in the importance of supporting and uplifting the communities around us," Rank said. "Every year, Top Rank donates towards Christmas food banks, gifts for kids, sports, community fundraisers, and more. In 2023 we donated over $11,000."

Rank hopes that by sharing his story, it may inspire other Red River Métis entrepreneurs to get started on their journey.

"I'm not sure If I would be where I am now without the help of the MMF," he said, adding your dreams are never too big to be chased.

"It wasn't easy in the beginning. It's not easy now, but it's worth it. Don't doubt yourself despite the age or position you are in. Work hard to achieve your goals and reach out to those who can give you good advice," said Rank. "Keep the people that are rooting for you close. Always appreciate what you have and when you can give back."


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B300-150 Henry Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 0J7

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