As the year ebbs ever closer to an end, there is no better time to reflect upon the gifts of friendship through networking, on knowledge shared, on opportunities to grow, and on the people with whom we work, generate ideas, and create products with. It is a great time to consider business and personal accomplishments, reflecting on those new years' goals we ambitiously set for ourselves in January, team achievements, challenges conquered, projects started, connections made, ideas explored, and lessons learned along the way. No matter how you look at it, a year presents a myriad of opportunities for us to share and to learn from each other, and that in itself is a wonderful gift that we need to be truly thankful for!
I have travelled 26, 418 kms this year up and down the 400, 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, 406, 407, 410, 416, 417, 420, 427 - and on countless, countless county roads - on pavement, on dirt, on snow covered or leaf-strewn - criss-crossing across the Province from one end to the other... Like the proverbial postman of the past - "neither rain, nor sleet, nor hail" deterred me from my trek to visit with Food, Beverage, Bio or Ag Sector companies, our wonderful Community Partners or to greet those attending our planned networking activities (save for those Bruce County wintery moments where moving anywhere was virtually impossible due to visibility and closed roads - and a 4-hour standstill for an accident 10 cars ahead on the 401 in the middle of nowhere which I would rather not repeat!)
Travelling across the Province, visiting with Manufacturers, facilitating events, working with Community Partners, provides one with an incredible sense of gratitude on so many levels and I think I can safely say without a doubt, that if anything it really has been an incredible year of "opportunity"! Opportunity for networking, opportunity for learning, opportunity for best practice sessions, opportunity to take in plant tours, opportunity to grow our businesses, opportunity to connect with others right across the Provinces!
This has been an extremely active year for those participating in our EMC Food Sector Events. We have covered a variety of productivity focused issues, participated in numerous plant tours, and joined in on key manufacturing conferences, forums, tradeshows and industry-related events all designed to enhance the competitiveness of the food, beverage, bio and ag sector in the Province of Ontario.
Best practices, round table discussion and occasional subject matter experts led to interesting conversations on items such as: compliance, legislation and certification issues, environmental and energy management undertakings, sustainability endeavours, efforts at reducing carbon footprints, and the importance of technology and traceability. On the human capital side of business, we explored the aging population, multigenerational issues, attraction and retention, and engaging and motivating our workforces. Complimenting the above, with labour productivity continually in mind, we examined the whole concept of dealing with rapid growth and the effect that has on all levels of a business, explored new markets through planned research, product development, and enhancing our relationship with Retailers.
Our plant tours provided participants with an opportunity to witness different processes, view information boards, lean initiatives, note safety protocols and gather ideas that could be implemented in their own facilities. Our Hosts have candidly shared their journey's to date and openly invited feedback for improvement. Many people engaged in discussions long after networking activities subsided and nothing brings more satisfaction to a facilitator of these events than to see business cards traded and plans made to visit each others' facilities!
Very, very special thanks to all of our Hosts this year who have taken time to prepare and share their best practices or journey's to date, and/or who have provided tours - keeping our Members dapper in traditional white coats, hair and beard nets, adorned with ear plugs and safety glasses and for those without safety shoes, appropriately appointed with bumper caps or big rubber boots - and also to those who have so simply and willingly provided us with a warm welcome and a place to meet - your kindness and efforts are all much appreciated for both our Regional and Sector Specific sessions:
Hobart Food Equipment, Owen Sound
McCormick Canada, London
Hela Canada, Uxbridge
Bonduelle North America, Tecumseh
Hartmann Canada Inc., Brantford
Chapman's Ice Cream, Markdale
ABB Inc., Brampton
HFS - Healthcare Food Service, Ottawa
Sun Rich Fresh Foods, Brampton
Furlani's Food Corporation, Mississauga
L.V. Lomas Limited, Brampton
Sleeman Breweries, Guelph
Campbell Company of Canada, Toronto
MacLean's Ales, Hanover
Sons Bakery, Brampton
Marsan Foods Limited, Toronto
Moncion's Independent Grocer, Gloucester
Blommer Chocolate, Campbellford
Supplementing EMC activity, I enjoyed acting as Chair of the Strategy Institute's 10th Annual North American Food Safety Summit this spring, and in exhibiting at the Food Regulatory and Quality Assurance Summit. We have also actively participated in EDCO's (Economic Development Councillors of Ontario) Conference, the Guelph Chamber of Commerce Food Industry Series, NSF-GFTC's Safe Food Canada Summit, the AMI-Agricultural Management Forum, Bakery Showcase and CRFA and Grocery Innovations Canada Shows, and the 2014 Manufacturing Canada Conference. Each of these sessions allows us to learn from industry best practices and to gain insight on trends and opportunities to enable business competitiveness for Manufacturers across Canada.
EMC has also been very involved in raising awareness of manufacturing as a career choice - participating in Career Fairs, and Student plant tour days. Together with the Four County Labour Market Planning Board and the Institute of Food Processing Technology, it was a pleasure to take part in an hour long radio interview this fall chatting about the incredible array of positions available in an industry setting.
Yes, without a doubt, 2014 has been an incredible year of opportunity and there is much to be thankful for!
As we round the corner for 2015 and I reset my mileage counter back to "0", I invite your input and value your suggestions for topics relating to enhancing business competitiveness and if you are interested in hosting - please feel free to touch base with me any time - we would love to come and visit!
On behalf of our entire Team at EMC, and my family to yours, we want to wish you a very heartfelt Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May you be surrounded by the ones you love - if not in person - than most certainly in mind - and know that there are friends near and far wishing you peace, joy and happiness not only during this special season but throughout the year!
All the very, very best as always!
Bren de Leeuw, Director - EMC Food, Beverage, Bio & Ag Program Canada
Excellence In Manufacturing Consortium - firstname.lastname@example.org - 519-372-6009
EMC receives funding under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. However, the comments or opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Government of Canada or the Province of Ontario.