All posts filed under: Volume 2, Issue 1 – Summer 2017

Diversity must become our innovation strategy

By Ronda Landygo.  This edition of Prairie Manufacturer Magazine is especially near and dear to my heart. Not only does it commemorate the start of our second year in publication, it also marks perhaps our boldest editorial direction yet. With the exception of The Rundown, a new quarterly policy and economic feature we have launched for the first time on Page 18, every article in this issue is either written by or showcases a prominent female leader. We didn’t make that decision to waive the gender flag. Instead, as Palliser Furniture CFO Cathy Gillespie eloquently explains in the View from the C-Suite column (Page 6), we chose to spotlight women influencers to spark a conversation on the importance of embracing varied and unique perspectives. Why? Because the business of manufacturing is changing before our eyes. The very nature of disruption — technological, societal, and economic — means if we intend to survive, let alone lead, we need to evolve. And, to do that, we need to start thinking differently. One singular lens through which to… Read More

It’s all about perspective

By Cathy Gillespie.  Fifteen years ago, manufacturing wasn’t prominently fixed on my radar. I had a good job as a commercial banker in a good company, making good money. Apart from a handful of industrial clients in my portfolio, my career path at the time couldn’t seem further from many of the everyday operational concerns facing manufacturers. Important functions like product research and development, IT system integration, and lean adoption were foreign concepts. I’ve always considered myself to be a selective individual — personally and professionally. Maybe it’s the accountant in me. But I rarely jump into any endeavour without first identifying and analyzing every possible influence and outcome. Who I decide to work for is a decision I make only after long and careful consideration. And truth be told, it has historically been a short list. Fortunately for me, Palliser Furniture was on it. Palliser is a fascinating Manitoba success story, full of rich history, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit. Established in 1944 by the DeFehr family, the company is now transitioning into its third-generation… Read More

Building the advanced manufacturing ecosystem

By Dayna Spiring.  A primary function of economic development agencies is to develop market intelligence around key economic drivers. This data represents a combination of raw statistics and qualitative information gathered by tracking global trends and engaging with leading companies in targeted industries. In Winnipeg and Manitoba, advanced manufacturing is one of the sectors proven to power economic growth, supplying high-value products to major players in packaging, ground transportation, farm machinery, and aerospace. The past decade has given rise to dramatic shifts within the advanced manufacturing ecosystem, and Economic Development Winnipeg (EDW) has been challenged to better understand the technologies and catalysts moving the sector forward. The mobilization of an advanced manufacturing alliance, designed to connect EDW to stakeholders who can supplement and corroborate market intelligence, has been a vital first step to validate manufacturing’s role in the economy, and understand the profound and pervasive changes stemming from both radical and incremental innovation. New products using next-generation materials are being designed and produced more efficiently than ever before, while advancements in quality are often complemented by… Read More

When lean meets community, everyone wins

By Carrie Schroeder.  Lean is a journey, not a destination. It requires enterprise-wide commitment and a long-term vision to identify and solve problems, learn from those experiences, and institutionalize a culture of continuous improvement. Leadership is key, yet teamwork is fundamental. Although recognizing there is always an opportunity to do better will get you into the game, nurturing high-performing teams is what will earn you the win. Being part of a strong team is hard work. Egos must be checked at the door, humility sewn, and self-assessment practiced regularly. All players must foster an environment of trust, where healthy conflict challenges the status quo, while — at the same time — celebrating successes and helping one another reach their potential. World-class lean companies have refined this engagement down to a science. Each Toyota employee averages close to 50 suggestions for improvement annually — roughly one per week. Celebrating accomplishments, however, is equally important. Lean should not be a daily grind; it should instead be a constant reminder to ask questions. Can we do this better?… Read More

In the weeds: Making way for effective corporate policy

By Annie Bell.  Medical marijuana. Pot legalization. Cannabis in the workplace. These phrases have sprouted in popularity — and have elicited corporate trepidation — over the past year, and will continue to be a hot topic in the coming months, as the Government of Canada enacts its new cannabis legislation leading up to July 2018. While much of the rhetoric has been rooted in the fear of impeding legal chaos, it is also built on a lack of understanding between employees and employers as to what their rights are and how they can be exercised. We are still waiting for both scientific leaders and federal policymakers to establish guidelines on impairment levels — not to mention a device that can successfully measure impairment from marijuana use (although an oral swab test opposed to, say, a urine test can detect usage in a 24-hour period). In the meantime, there are no specific directives you can include in your policy to circumvent the uncertainty. That said, more than ever, now is the time to ensure your current… Read More

The Rundown

A quick update on the issues and policies impacting you.  By Derek Lothian. Canada Free Trade Agreement After months of intense negotiation, Canada’s provinces and territories finalized a new domestic trade pact this spring, set to take effect July 1. The new Canada Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) replaces the two-decades-old Agreement on Internal Trade, and is aimed at improving the alignment of regulatory controls, removing barriers to inter-jurisdictional business, and strengthening dispute resolution mechanisms. While there are stalwart critics of the deal — many of whom have slammed the provision of a ‘negatives list,’ whereby provinces can outline protected exemptions on market access (worth noting it is a long list, too — comprising more than two-fifths of the final document) — business leaders nationwide have broadly welcomed the announcement, from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business to Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters. Under the former regime, provinces declared what goods and services were eligible for interprovincial free trade. The CFTA, on the other hand, establishes free trade as the default position. In addition to other structural… Read More

Your next hire?

Technology is transforming more than your products and processes — it’s changing your workforce.  By Jennifer Findlay.  The robots aren’t coming — they’re here. And with them, they are bringing big questions for Prairie manufacturers: What will Industry 4.0 need in an employee? What happens to the jobs of today in a world dominated by artificial intelligence and automation? What skill sets will grow in demand over the next decade as companies race to harness a new era of global opportunity? Estimates suggest more than 40 per cent of the tasks currently performed by humans can already be automated. In the past, robots were used to replace highly repetitive manual tasks, such as packaging or welding on large-volume production lines. Now, using advanced sensors and computer algorithms, automation is moving higher up the value chain, performing exceedingly complex cognitive functions in real time. In 2014, Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Deep Knowledge even appointed a robot named Vital to its board of directors — becoming the first business in the world to do so. These… Read More

Ten recommendations for a ‘new NAFTA’

By Maryscott Greenwood.  President Donald Trump has been talking tough about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) since the early days of his campaign, threatening repeatedly to withdraw the United States from the pact outright. After concerned phone calls from the leaders of Canada and Mexico, however, he seemed to walk that threat back, opting instead to push for a more liberal ‘modernization’ of the accord. The selection of international trade law expert Robert Lighthizer as U.S. trade representative gave Canadians another reason to breathe a sigh of relief. But even with the overwhelmingly-bipartisan confirmation of Lighthizer, it is far too soon to assume NAFTA is out of the woods. America’s 45th president has demonstrated he is nothing if not unpredictable. For now, the Trump administration does not appear to be on course to scrap NAFTA. It is, though, readying for significant renegotiation. That alone is no cause for alarm. NAFTA truly is in legitimate need of an update. The deal is, after all, 23 years old, and was negotiated in an entirely different… Read More

Great beer, down to a science

Meet the Newfoundland grad who turned in her stethoscope for a lab coat en route to becoming Saskatchewan’s newest brewmaster.  By Joanne Paulson.  Amanda Butt is in the ‘party room’ at Saskatoon’s Great Western Brewing Co., sipping a fresh batch of beer out of a small glass sleeve. She wrinkles her nose, and notes this beer is young; she won’t allow anyone outside the testing team to even take a sniff. Not before it’s perfect. Butt took the helm as brewmaster after only two weeks learning the ropes. Her pride in the brand, however, was fully in place the minute she walked through the door. In brewing circles, Great Western’s history is a story of legends — how 16 employees bought the company from Carling O’Keefe in 1989, when the beer company merged with Molson and the plant was slated for closure. Great Western has been a revered local institution ever since. “When I heard it, I thought the story was super cool,” recounts Butt. “I left ‘big beer’ to get into the craft beer… Read More

The puck drops on Manitoba Manufacturing Week

By Jill Knaggs.  It is one of the most prolific sports metaphors in corporate Canada: “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” Those words, first uttered by Walter Gretzky and immortalized through his son, Wayne, formulated the rallying cry this past March, as manufacturers from across the Prairies converged on Winnipeg for the 2017 Manitoba Manufacturing Week — a weeklong series of events celebrating one of the region’s most important economic sectors. There was even a ceremonial puck drop. At the heart of the week was the annual Dare to Compete conference — or (un)conference, as it is referred to by attendees. Now in its 15th iteration, Dare to Compete has grown into the largest recurring manufacturing event in Western Canada, bringing together a world-class line-up of speakers and thought-leaders to tackle industry trends, challenges, and future growth opportunities. This year’s keynotes included political pundit Andrew Coyne; Michael Gardiner, director of strategy, advanced manufacturing, and Industry 4.0 for Siemens Canada; and leadership guru Stephen Shedletzky. “From the frontline to the… Read More

Gala Awards Dinner 2017

No Manitoba Manufacturing Week is complete without taking in the iconic Gala Awards Dinner. More than 500 guests packed into the RBC Convention Centre to pay tribute to this year’s award winners: Pioneer Award Emeric V. Duha IX (awarded posthumously and accepted by his son, Rick Duha) With the support of his wife, Gwen, and his sister, Margaret, Emeric championed The Duha Group’s booming expansion from a printing press in the family home in Osborne Village, setting the stage for the company’s global success. Today, The Duha Group maintains a presence in nine countries across four continents. Emeric, known as Rick and E.V. to friends and colleagues, had an eye to the future. With the proliferation of printers in the 1950s, he identified unique opportunities in a niche market: Specialized colour-merchandising tools. The company soon expanded from Winnipeg with a second location in Gimli, focusing on colour cards, fandecks, and colour systems. Emeric’s dedication to the relentless pursuit of customer value, employee empowerment, and teamwork developed the framework to help The Duha Group grow and… Read More

What I’ve learned from women leaders

Alberta industry champion and commentator, Jeff Baker, talks focus, commitment, and the power of working with both your head and your heart.  By Jeff Baker.  When I began my career nearly 15 years ago, I was green to any sort of ‘real’ industry, having not been exposed to much in the way of manufacturing and processing in my formative days. Since then, however, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and getting to know many of the major industrial players across Alberta, Canada, and beyond, spanning such sectors as energy, forestry, environmental and professional services, and — of course — manufacturing. Manufacturing in particular held a certain fascination for me. Despite having the odd peek behind the proverbial curtain, there was always a ‘black box’ mystique around what happens as raw materials are transformed into finished products. I admit that I grew up with a stereotypical view of manufacturing. I knew it as the exclusive domain of men — rough and tumble, dirty and dangerous. That’s just how it was portrayed in popular culture. As we… Read More

The business case for inclusiveness

By Jennifer Findlay.  American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Doing well is the result of doing good. That is what capitalism is all about.” For Greg Cruson, general manager of Dutch Industries near Regina, the nexus of that equation can be found in the company’s policy toward inclusiveness. The agricultural equipment manufacturer has hired several workers with intellectual disabilities over the years — not only to the benefit of the employee, but also to corporate morale and the overall bottom line. “My grandfather was an immigrant from Holland, so coming from another country, he had a disability in the sense that he had to learn a new language and understand a new culture,” explains Cruson. “I can resonate with that experience. It’s always something we’ve felt important in our business.” Recently, Dutch Industries brought on a disabled employee to pack bolts to include in global shipments. The result has been a dramatic decline in error rates — to virtual elimination — as well as improved customer satisfaction levels. “Accuracy is very important in his… Read More

With Roberta Soo-Oyewaste, manager of the Pasqua First Nation Group of Companies

A little over a year ago, Pasqua First Nation acquired Pro Metal Industries in Regina — the band’s first investment in manufacturing. Why manufacturing and why now? For starters, Saskatchewan has led Canada in manufacturing growth over the past decade, outpacing the national average more than 13 times over. Wages have kept pace as well, creating sustainable, quality employment opportunities for our people. And finally, it helps to deepen our relationship with the commodities sector — specifically, oil and gas producers and potash mines. This diversification, toward strategic areas of our economy, better positions us to leverage some of the major, new capital projects in the region, from the K+S potash mine in Bethune to the Enbridge Line Three replacement, which will run through Treaty Four Territory (which Pasqua First Nation is a part of). What is the approach you have taken to strengthen those relationships in the resource sector? Resource developers recognize the need to engage Indigenous Peoples. It is not the sole responsibility of those companies, however, to do so on their own.… Read More

Protect yourself this summer from skin cancer

You’ve worked hard all year — you deserve that vacation. But remember: Safety cannot stop you when you leave the office or shop floor.  By Dr. Marni Wiseman.  What are the different types of skin cancer? There are three primary types of skin cancer: Melanoma is the most serious; basal cell carcinoma is the most common; and the third is squamous cell carcinoma. Why is early detection so important? Early detection is vital, because it may lead to better patient outcomes. Patients who are diagnosed earlier may have smaller scars, better cosmetic results, and in some cases, particularly with melanoma, an improved rate of survival. What are the different treatments? A person’s treatment depends upon the type and location of their cancer. Surgery is the most common treatment for skin cancer; however, some skin cancers may also be treated with radiation, different types of anti-cancer creams, or occasionally chemotherapy. What can be done to protect you and your loved ones? Prevention is so important. The sun is a major cause of skin cancer, so be… Read More