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A season of growth for airline

Erika Sherk
Northern News Services
Monday, June 18, 2007

IQALUIT - In the three years that Tom Ruth has been president and chief executive officer of Canadian North, the company has doubled its fleet of planes and re-opened flights into an entire region of Nunavut.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Tom Ruth is leaving Canadian North to take over as president with global shipping giant Oceanex. - photo courtesy of Micki Ruth

"It's been a great experience," he said, "and the company has grown a lot ... I'm really going to miss it."

Ruth recently announced that he is stepping down from his position with the airline.

He is moving to Montreal to be president and chief executive officer of Oceanex, a shipping logistics company, he said from his Yellowknife office at Canadian North headquarters.

"For me overall it's been really mixed feelings," he said of leaving. "We've got such a great company here, it's on a roll."

Ruth, 50, arrived in May 2004, from Toronto to begin his new life with the Northern airline. It was the coldest spring on record, he said. He woke up to his first day of work and it was -12C.

"I thought that was the way it always was," he said.

Though the company saw many changes during his tenure, he had a good place to start from, he said.

"The company was already successful," said Ruth. "It had so many great people."

The first step was to make a five-year plan, he said, one that focused on customer service.

"To look at things from the customer's vantage point," said Ruth.

For this reason it is not uncommon for passengers to look out the window of their plane and see him or other executives loading it up or greeting people as they arrive, he said.

The ultimate goal of improving customer service led the company to double its fleet, increase charters to the mines and move into the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut, he said.

Ruth first became interested in airline logistics as an officer in a Navy construction battalion, he said.

They would take off for international tours on 48 hours notice, he said.

"One of my jobs was what they called embarkation officer," said Ruth. "I was responsible for planning all the loads - 23 planeloads of equipment - to go overseas."

That job led him to the Northwest Airlines, where he worked for 10 years - in Los Angeles, Boston, Houston, and Washington D.C.

He then took a job with Livingston International in Toronto. The move to Canada was a fateful one, said the American-born-and-raised Ruth.

"We came for two years and fell in love with it," he said. "Now it's home for good."

Canadian North will continue its upward climb after he's gone, assured Ruth.

"I see a really robust future because there's a lot of activity that continues to develop throughout the North," he said.