The end of the year is a perfect time to reflect: first, to truly appreciate and be thankful for the journey, the people, the opportunities and lessons that have brought us to this point; and secondly, it affords us the time to plan and chart our next course of direction so that we can effectively navigate our businesses as a new year full of possibilities unfolds before us...
It never ceases to amaze me how much there is to learn and how innovative and productive we can be! With that thought in mind, as we finish another year with our food and beverage sector specific activity, I am once again humbled by both the wealth of knowledge and the enthusiasm of our Members, their willingness to participate in down-to-earth discussions, networking, best practice sharing and tours! It delights me to no end to see companies connecting with others in peer settings but even more so when fellow manufacturers take things one step further and extend an offer to meet again at their own facilities on a one to one basis! Yes, without a doubt, it's truly been a year of learning, fo appreciation for entrepreneurialism and innovation, development and growth... and I am sure so much more!
From January through December we have discussed a multitude of topics during our networking activities:
* Operational strategy and how to lead a good company to greatness
* Dealing with business growth and the importance of planning
* What it takes to remain competitive in the food industry today
* Retail performance, drivers and trends
* Leadership development, coaching, team building and turnaround interviews
* Employee engagement, metrics, performance tracking, reward and recognition programs
* Workforce requirements as far as skill sets, immigrant opportunities, training, english as a second language (ESL)
* Measuring the cost effectiveness and benefits of EAP programs
* Supply Chain Management
* Sustainability, energy management, environmental benchmarking, ISO 50001
* Health and Safety practices
* And so much more!
We were very fortunate to have had some excellent best practice presentations from Club Coffee, Cargill Value Added Meats Canada, HFS - Healthcare Food Services, Chudleigh's, Cayuga Displays, Lance Canada Inc., Karma Candy, Kisko Products, Claridge Food Group, Campbells Company of Canada, PepsiCo and Blommer Chocolate.
Our 2013 Schedule also afforded Members the opportunity to hear from some great guest speakers on funding opportunities, skills management and learning technologies, the latest Ministry of Labour and legal updates, and to explore opportunities through collaborations with colleges and universities, other manufacturers, conference and community partners such as OMAF and MRA and Economic Development.
Between visits with Manufacturers in the Food and Beverage Sector and our own networking activity across the Province, it was a busy year on the forum front as well and we always welcomed the opportunity to participate in these sessions to gain insight on issues of relevance to industry:
* CRFA Show
* Strategy Institute - 9th Annual Food Safety Summit
* BLOOM - Ontario Food Industry Water Innovation Forum
* SIAL Canada Show
* German Chamber of Commerce - Machinery Made in Germany - Innovation in Food Processing and Packaging
* AOFP - Ontario Food and Beverage Processing Industry, Strategic Priorities Consultation
* Grocery Innovations Canada 2013
* BLOOM - Sustainability Applied 2013
* Strategy Institute - Food Regulatory and Quality Assurance Summit
* NSF-GFTC - Canadian Food Industry Forecast
* Provision Coalition - Online Sustainability Portal Launch
* Women in Food Industry Management - Chapman's Ice Cream Journey and Tours to Chocolate F/X and Pilliterri Estate Winery
* CMA - Manufacturing Symposium - Redefining Productivity
* Guelph Chamber of Commerce - Pulse on Innovation Series with Deputy Minister Deb Stark, and also with Maple Leaf Foods
As we plan the year ahead, keeping in mind the general priorities for business, we will certainly do our best to bring topics of interest to the table that will enable you to grow your business. We appreciate your input and if you have thoughts around any of the following themes as far as sharing your experiences and in networking with others, feel free to reach out to me at any time:
* Improving customer satisfaction
* Reducing costs wherever we can
* Improving our methods and knowledge around food safety and traceability
* Growing our sales in Canada and around the world
* Building and sustaining employee satisfaction and performance
* Developing and recruiting enthusiastic and skilled labour
* Staying ahead of the curve with new product development and innovation
* Looking at ways to enhance our efficiency through process innovation
* Navigating the regulatory road in an effective manner
* Leadership and team development
* Marketing, branding, merchandising and social media
* Strategic planning...
If you are interested in hosting or in sharing a best practice or in simply learning more through others experiences, do drop me a line so that we can do our best to work something into the schedule or connect you with others in that regard.
Finally, I wanted to extend a sincere and special thanks to all of our Hosts this year - we truly appreciated the warm welcome you extended to all of us!
Club Coffee LP, Cargill Value Added Meats Canada, Chapman's Ice Cream, Hartmann Canada Inc., HFS - Healthcare Food Services, Chudleigh's, Cayuga Displays, Craig Richardson Institute of Food Processing Technology, ABB Inc., Piller's Fine Foods, Salerno Dairy Products, Lance Canada Inc., The Original Cakerie, Blommer Chocolate Canada, and Reinhart Foods.
On behalf of everyone at EMC, we wish you the very merriest of holidays and the best of the coming New Year! May it be filled with many special moments of love and happiness!
Bren de Leeuw, Sr. Community Development and Food & Beverage Program Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org - 519-372-6009