All posts tagged: Latest Issue

Good neighbours and global leaders

By Derek Lothian.  The last 12 years of my career have been — in one way, shape, or form — tied to manufacturing on the Prairies. One of my favourite jobs came in my early 20s, overseeing sales and marketing for a small agricultural equipment start-up. It was quintessentially Saskatchewanian: A handful of farmers with no manufacturing experience whatsoever running production out of a quonset to satisfy a growing global customer base. It was one of the few situations where inexperience (and even a bit of ignorance) was an undeniable asset. We didn’t know the ‘right way’ to do things, so we made it up on the fly. Sometimes we got burned; but, more often than not, we persevered. And we were a better, more resilient company because of it. My first hands-on experience with exporting came in 2007. We had just struck a deal with a North Dakota distributor, and there was interest bubbling from potential partners in Western Europe. Concepts I had never heard of before — rules of origin labelling, receivables insurance,… Read More

From plant to pint: Beer, and the case for growing the local value chain

By Mark Heise.  When you think of Regina, Saskatchewan, what do you think of? The Saskatchewan Roughriders? The RCMP Depot? The Italian Star Deli? What about beer? Earlier this year, the Queen City was named to the list of the top 30 beer destinations in the world, joining the likes of Dublin, Ireland, and — of course — the iconic home of Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany. But what has made this place so special? Why are craft beer sales here expected to jump by 30 per cent industry-wide in 2018 alone? The answer isn’t a complicated one: It starts with what goes into the product. I’ll give you a few examples. Take AGT Food and Ingredients — the crown jewel of Saskatchewan’s agri-processing sector, and one of the largest exporters of pulse crops on the planet. At Rebellion Brewing, we bucked tradition and found a way to incorporate AGT’s King Red Lentils (coincidentally, which were developed at the University of Saskatchewan) into what has become our best-selling product, the Lentil Cream Ale. On a much smaller… Read More

Rethinking competitive advantage

Superclusters and economic development.  By David Froh.  Prairie people have always seen the advantages of our wide-open spaces — they are a blank canvas of opportunity. These endless possibilities have fostered a culture where we have become accustomed to creating great things. As you will read throughout this issue of Prairie Manufacturer Magazine, Saskatchewan’s tradition of innovation is more than a century old, and continues strong today. Family-owned enterprises like Dutch Industries, SeedMaster, DOT Technology Corporation, and Degelman Industries literally started in farmyard quonsets, and then expanded to serve global markets. The path to prosperity in this province has always been built upon trade — and that, as they say, takes a village. You need to find quality suppliers, nurture distribution channels, and earn trust with customers. The common denominator is understanding the value proposition and partnering with those that complement the business. Traditional economic development is often thought of as a zero-sum game with winners and losers, where regions fiercely compete for investment, sometimes to their detriment. Such an approach is not sustainable. It… Read More

Quick lessons for the modern lean leader

By Stewart Bellamy.  Looking back now on more than five decades in manufacturing, I often think about just how much more may have been accomplished had I — and the companies I worked with — been exposed to this ‘lean stuff’ earlier. After 20 years as a continuous improvement practitioner, plus countless hours of ongoing personal study time, one thing has become abundantly clear: A lean journey is infinite. The more you learn, the more there is to know. What follows are a few observations from my career on several key elements routinely misunderstood, or not even considered, in many lean initiatives. High quality, quick delivery, low cost — pick any two Have you ever seen this statement posted in a business? Maybe it’s just the unwritten mantra of the owner? Either way, it’s not an uncommon thought. The premise is that you can have high quality and fast delivery, but it won’t be cheap. You can have high quality and low cost, but it won’t be fast. Or, you can have fast delivery and… Read More

The bruises and triumphs of our second-generation succession

By Ryan Sailer.  For us, it never was a decision if we would take over the family business. It’s not like we sat down when we were all 10 or 12 years old and said, “Okay, this is the road map. This is what you guys will be doing; here’s how it will look, and here’s how it will work.” My two brothers and I (Jason, older than me by two years, and Scott, younger than me by three years) generally had an interest in the business. And, when we were still in high school, we always held summer jobs in various positions at the shop. We did everything, from sweeping the parking lot and driving forklift to servicing end-customers’ trailer brakes and unloading trucks. As we grew, we found we shared a passion for fixing problems and things that bugged us. That inherently led us to take on more responsibility year after year. It was around 2007 and 2008 we found our way into critical roles in the business. With this responsibility, we were… Read More

SaskInnov8s

A look at eight Saskatchewan innovations and how they’ve changed — or are changing — manufacturing and the Canadian economy.  By Joanne Paulson.  The innovative spirit of Saskatchewan was a natural outcome of its early days, harkening to a time of ploughs and pioneers. While much has changed, that drive to create — to solve problems — has not. According to the Western Development Museum, Saskatchewan is home to 3,200 patents. Thousands of other unrecorded inventions and process innovations have been successfully commercialized. Some of these advances have led to the genesis of the province’s thriving manufacturing sector — an industry that, through 2017, employed 28,000 people and generated more than $16 billion in sales. And while we can’t tell all these stories in one issue, we’ve selected eight of them we think capture the spirit that has earned Saskatchewan an international reputation for manufacturing and economic ingenuity. Canola & Canola Oil If there has ever been a crop to revolutionize agriculture on the Prairies, it’s canola. Farmers here originally planted hardy grains, such as… Read More

Saskatchewan’s ‘Iron Triangle’ a hub for ag manufacturing innovation

By J. Robert Shanks.  Gifted with a rich farming tradition and 40 per cent of Canada’s arable land, Saskatchewan is synonymous with agriculture in the minds of many. But the reputation belongs with more than farmers alone. The province is also home to a burgeoning shortline and OEM agricultural manufacturing base, which — in 2017 — exported roughly $300 million in product to markets around the world. The strength of the industry is, perhaps, not surprising — especially given that 85 per cent of Saskatchewan’s GDP is generated outside of its high-profile resource sectors. Ag manufacturers have proven to be one of the brightest and most creative stars of Saskatchewan’s economy. Largely composed of small businesses, they have built a sterling international reputation for quality and innovation, and the ‘made in Saskatchewan’ brand is sought after at trade shows and equipment showcases from Red Deer to Germany to Kazahkstan, and everywhere in between. Many of these businesses are located outside of the province’s two largest cities. The rural area east of Saskatoon in particular has… Read More

This ‘family squabble’ may mean finding new friends

The Canada-U.S. trade relationship is on shaky ground — and that may have long-term impacts, regardless of how NAFTA negotiations play out. By Martin Cash & Derek Lothian.  They say you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. So, if the current Canada-U.S. trade rift constitutes — as President Trump purports — a ‘family squabble,’ the question is: Is it time for Western Canadian manufacturers to find new friends? While the world as we know it isn’t coming to an end, the fracture of international trade norms is shaking up traditional business dynamics for many Prairie manufacturers. Yet, the actual macroeconomic impact has been modest — at least so far. According to Statistics Canada, the country’s trade gap in June dropped to $626 million, down from $2.7 billion a month earlier. The bilateral trade surplus with the U.S., meanwhile, hit $4.1 billion — a 24 per cent spike and the largest increase in more than a year. Those numbers came one month after the U.S. imposed 25 per cent tariffs on Canadian… Read More

What’s hot and what’s not in export markets

By Jayson Myers.  It’s mind-boggling how a year that began with so much promise for Prairie manufacturers — and for the world economy in general — now appears to be careering toward trade wars, trade sanctions, and inflation. It was only last year the global economy began running on all cylinders again, after a lengthy hiatus following the 2008 financial meltdown. True, there are still plenty of risks in financial markets, and Canada — along with many other countries — will need to work off record levels of household, private, and public sector debt. But, for the first half of 2018, Canada, the United States, and a majority of the world’s leading economies were in full growth mode. Year-over-year, global trade grew eight per cent in the first six months of this year. Western Canadian manufacturers have had a good start to the year as well. Manufacturing sales for the first half of 2018 were about seven per cent higher than for the same period last year. Exports by Prairie manufacturers are up by almost… Read More

New online platform preaches the importance of safety training

By Derek Lothian.  Ken Ricketts is an avowed safety evangelist. When you first meet Ricketts, the executive director of the Safety Association of Saskatchewan Manufacturers (SASM), it is difficult not to be captivated by his passion. Much like a good Baptist minister, he is compelling in his delivery, articulate and thoughtful with his words, and convincing with his message. Rickett’s crusade is to make the province’s manufacturing sector the safest in the world — zero fatalities and zero injuries. And, although he still has a way to go, if you consider the trending numbers, you can’t ignore he is converting a growing crowd of followers. Between 2014 and 2017, lost-time claims in the industry plummeted by 40 per cent, equating to close to 3,000 more worker days’ worth of increased productivity. No-lost-time claims, meanwhile, dropped by a third. Over that same timeframe, the cumulative cost of injury also edged downward, by 18 per cent. The question is how to sustain and accelerate that momentum. According to Ricketts, finding new ways to connect with shop floor… Read More

Point / Counterpoint

Is preparation for this issue of Prairie Manufacturer Magazine, Editor Derek Lothian and one of our guest columnists, Stewart Bellamy (Page 14), found themselves embroiled in a debate: When it comes to manufacturing, is it lean, Lean, or LEAN? Does it even matter? Can the capitalization of a word actually have real-world, operational implications? Read their thoughts and then you decide. It’s Lean By Stewart Bellamy Is it lean, Lean or LEAN? Many would contend that it’s just a word — that it doesn’t matter. I beg to differ. In this context, it’s Lean, and it’s a term, not simply a word. Let’s start with why it isn’t lean. Consider the origins of the term lean production. It was first proposed in the late 1980s by John Krafcik — a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology research team, led by Jim Womack, that studied automotive production methods at multiple companies across 14 countries. Krafcik was describing the results being achieved by Toyota’s production system when compared to the rest of the pack. Basically, it… Read More

Embracing excellence 2018

  By Laurel Johanson.  It’s fitting that the 2018 Canadian Lean Conference ended with a showstopping Broadway musical number. By the time keynote speaker Paul Huschilt was doing high-kicks across the stage at the RBC Convention Centre’s ballroom to demonstrate the benefits of humour in the workplace, the enthusiastic conference crowd seemed ready to join him. For the end of a week-long conference, there was a surprising amount of energy still in the air. Such was the spirit of the 2018 edition of Canada’s largest lean event, hosted by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Manitoba (CME) every three years. The conference took place June 4-7 this year in Winnipeg, with over 1,000 delegates attending from all across Canada. The scope of the conference had never been bigger, with 15 workshops, 18 plant tours, 36 practitioner presentations, and seven keynote addresses included in this year’s programming. Right from the start, the atmosphere was teeming with energy and enthusiasm from delegates, educators, tour guides, and speakers alike. Take Billy Taylor as a prime example. Taylor, director of commercial… Read More

With Rhonda Barnet, president and COO of Steelworks Design and national chair of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

What is the Women in Manufacturing (WIM) initiative? WIM is a national initiative of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), aimed at reviewing the trends for women in the manufacturing workforce in Canada compared to other countries, understanding the issues and barriers that are preventing more women from entering and existing women from advancing, and coming up with solutions to increase the participation and success of women in manufacturing. Attracting more women into manufacturing professions is critical to helping companies grow and to replace the existing and aging workforce. To do this, CME’s WIM Working Group is focusing its efforts on the following pillars: • Engage and inspire: Introduce STEM to young women and girls; • Attract and retain: Increase the number of women entering and staying in the manufacturing workforce; and • Empower, support, and accelerate: Help women achieve success in the workplace by breaking down barriers to their personal and professional growth. What level of female participation is there in the Canadian manufacturing workforce? In Canada, women account for 48 per cent of the… Read More

Can’t we all just get along?

By Derek Lothian, Editor, Prairie Manufacturer Magazine​ The title of Scott Gilmore’s April 19 Maclean’s op-ed is equal parts incendiary clickbait and honest critique of the state of our federation: Canada is not a country. Talk about a headline. “If we can’t build pipelines, move beer, or find some common ground,” he argues, “we may have a fatal problem.” Perhaps more important than a commentary on pan-provincial trade woes, Gilmore dissects the growing list of divisions between Canadian people — in terms of identity, geography, prosperity, understanding, and, heck, even our willingness to understand. It had me thinking about what that means for the future of Canadian manufacturing — not entirely how we make things or how they get to market, but who makes them and whether we will be able to collectively reimagine a supply chain that is more person than product. We write a lot in Prairie Manufacturer Magazine about the emergence of Industry 4.0. This summer issue is no different. And don’t kid yourself: The ability to understand and deploy advanced technologies may very… Read More

Excelling in a world of change

By Ben Voss​ I always like to begin stories with a little perspective on history. I grew up in small-town Saskatchewan at a time when the normal career path was to obtain your education and then leave this great province to pursue your life’s ambition elsewhere. I, unlike many, chose to stay. I remember attending session after session put on by the local economic development agencies and chambers of commerce, which listed off the many reasons why Saskatchewan was a great place to setup manufacturing businesses. Reasonable wages, a skilled and readily available workforce, cheap real estate (often in small towns with low taxes), and low utility rates were all considered attractive reasons to open a factory here. Remarkably, in less than two short decades, those low-cost advantages inverted to high-cost challenges. The boom arrived and, with it, a great deal of opportunity and growth. Changebecame the most popular buzzword in many executive offices. ‘Adapt or die,’ they said. Some have, unfortunately, went the way of the latter. Others have merely survived. But there are… Read More

The smart money is investing in our young people

By Steve McLellan Imagine these situations: Elaine is a recent widow. Her husband did all the banking and, during their 40 years of marriage, she worked, looked after the house, and raised their three children. Now she is the family broker, investment advisor, and budgeter. She is finding the task a challenge. Isaac is a proud, recent graduate of the Saskatchewan Polytechnic CAD technician program and, after 12 years of school and the additional two years of study to get his diploma, he is ready to make some money and start living life. While he has some student loans, he believes that with his newfound income in manufacturing he will soon be in the ‘big money’ and will not have to rely on Kraft Dinner for supper five nights a week. A sure sign of his future success is that he received notice in the mail he’s been pre-approved for three credit cards and has signed up for them all. Susan, meanwhile, moved to Canada from Somalia as a refugee and saw this country as… Read More