Eric Dobson named Bruce Telecom's new CEO


By Kristen Shane

The board of directors of Bruce Telecom has chosen a new president and CEO to lead the municipally-owned telecommunications company through a rough patch. 

Eric Dobson, brings to Bruce Telecom almost 19 years of experience with the Canadian telecommunications industry. He’s been at the helm of divisions of Sprint Canada Inc. and later Rogers Communications Inc. (which bought Sprint in 2005).

Before that, Dobson learned his business and leadership skills at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., where he graduated with an economics degree, and the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in London.

That resume, and Dobson’s record of making money for the companies he’s helped lead, boosted his name to the top of the list of potential candidates for the Bruce Telecom top job.

Bruce Telecom’s new CEO, Eric Dobson. (courtesy of Eric Dobson)

After former CEO Mike Andrews announced his resignation at the end of November for personal reasons, the company’s board hired a head-hunting firm to find it a temporary replacement while they searched for a permanent CEO.

Dobson was in line for the temporary job, along with three other candidates, said Richard Martin, the board’s chair.

“Considering his quality and his successful history with the communications industry, we decided to offer the permanent position and he accepted,” said Martin Friday.

Although Dobson has never run a small telecommunications company such as Bruce Telecom, Martin says the board didn’t see that as a problem.

Acting general manager Laurel Stein, who is regularly the company’s chief financial officer, took the company’s reins in Andrews’ absence, but Dobson is set to take over Jan. 4.

It won’t be easy. In recent years, competitor companies have been eating into Bruce Telecom’s once rock-solid profits. Company officials told Kincardine council this fall that they expect this year’s profit to shrink by up to $500,000 from the $1.5 million they had expected. A series of regulatory restrictions could also cost the company next year.

“We certainly need someone who can generate greater profitability,” said Martin. “We felt very confident that he could make a difference in the company.”

Dobson is not fazed by Bruce Telecom’s problems.

“There (are) some new challenges in running the company…like new competitors, which is something I’m used to dealing with,” he said.

He got a chance to speak with Andrews about the company’s state of affairs.

“It sounds like he was doing a lot of the right things in terms of developing the company,” said Dobson. “I think a lot of what I will be doing will be to continue what he’s already started.”

He should also have the opportunity to expand the company’s product line through the launch of its Bruce Mobility service, slated for early next year, he added.

Dobson is spending this week cleaning out his desk at Fibernetics, where he spent the past six months as president of business services. He said he quit the job because being CEO of Bruce Telecom was a better opportunity.

He’s looking forward to moving to Kincardine. And he’s already passed the biggest test of Bruce County living: weathering winter.

He drove through a blinding snow storm to make it safe and sound to his interview with the company’s board of directors recently.

“I grew up in Barrie so I’m used to lots of snow,” he says. “I hear your summers make up for it though.”