Chris Novak said he’s always had a flare for information, and that flare has put his Sudbury-based company on the map.
The founder and CEO of Centric Mining Systems has been offering solutions to information management since 2000. Novak always believed his company’s strength lay in taking a global view and tapping into the export market from the very beginning.
His career started in the late 1980s, when “tech was quite a bit different, but in some ways, the process was much the same.”
Through the 1980s and 1990s, Novak didn’t work directly in information management, he supervised and surveyed mines. In his role, Novak became frustrated by the inefficient, ineffective and non-existent use of data in decision making.
An information management company was the positive outcome of Novak’s frustration.
“If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself,” said Novak. Novak’s company, originally named NCS Technology Inc., specialized in mine production reporting and geological data on a consulting basis for the first five years.
From the beginning, Novak knew his business had to take a global approach. Most of his consulting clients were international or located elsewhere in Canada. That trend continued as he grew and the focus of NCS Technology changed.
In 2005, Novak began working more closely on a deliverable software product, Centric, which was a mine production management system that could be used for commercial production tracking and reporting. In 2006 NCS Australia Pty Ltd was formed, and their first customer was in Western Australia.
“There was more of an appetite for our approach in other cutting-edge markets,” said Novak, “where software is seen as more of an essential tool.”
The next several years were spent expanding on Centric’s product line and presence. In 2014, NCS Technology officially rebranded as Centric Mining Systems, solidifying their strong focus on a deliverable product.
This year has been a big year for Novak with a continued global focus. For starters, they launched a new product, Centric Explore. The new cloudbased drill hole and sample management system allows clients to gather, store, access and share data from projects.
This year, Novak also opened a third office in Jakarta, Indonesia and has plans to expand to Central and South America.
Besides looking to grow the company’s international presence, Novak is scoping for clients closer to home, and thinks his export experience might actually allow Centric Mining Systems to gain traction in the local market.
“Our business was validated by a global market,” said Novak, who finds that there is significantly more interest in his product now than when he started.
Despite the distance between Novak and most of his clients, he’s been able to make his business thrive for over 15 years, and hopes other startups will follow his example.
“It’s a tired story here: a small company taps into a local market then goes to export,” said Novak. “Don’t be afraid to start as a global company and then bring your product home.”
“The world is a small place now.”