There is always something wonderful that comes from bringing a group of like-minded individuals together interested in learning more about how to improve or enhance programs they may have in place through experiences of others. Best practices provide the perfect learning opportunity to do just that and we were thrilled to visit with Malabar Super Spice Company with that perspective in mind as we focused on striving for excellence in food safety!
Malabar, nicely situated in Burlington, Ontario, has been in business for over 30 years and is actively engaged on both the Manufacturing and Distribution sides producing spices, seasonings, functional ingredients and marinades for food processors across Canada.
They embrace four foundational pillars of Continuous Improvement – Food Safety, Health & Safety, Productivity and Profitability.
Food Safety is integral to all the facets of their business. It’s built into every job description and incorporated into all Health and Safety and production training. The Team at Malabar believes that Food Safety should never be a stand-alone program and needs to be incorporated into all aspects of the organization which is why it is embraced as one their key CI pillars.
This is a very team oriented company that endeavours to stay connected to customers and suppliers, providing service and building relationships that endure. From a customer service perspective, they are always looking for global trends and innovations: “we build strategic partnerships to bring products from across the world to our customers”.
Centrally located in the plant is a large banner that catches your eye immediately citing: “Teamwork makes the dream work!” And further echoing the importance of working together, a unique piece hangs prominently on the Boardroom wall - a race car panel with a lug nut attached. That lug nut represents every member of their Team – and like the Members of a race team – whether Owner, Driver, Assembler, or Pit Crew – the Team at Malabar work together to ensure that everything that needs to be completed is done so in an efficient and lean-oriented manner consistently and on time from the front to the back door with no error and little or no waste.
They coach, engage and encourage people to participate in a shared vision across the organization that starts from Day One. There is open dialogue with Supervisors and ongoing CI and lean philosophy training. Their lean best practices tie into five principles revolving around purpose, process and people. Key responsibilities are built into every job description.
Communication is extremely important to the overall success of their teams particularly when it comes to QA, Food Safety and Production. It stands to reason with solid team building comes good communication and with that they provide opportunities to strengthen skills in this regard through:
1. Daily Activities (Production Meetings/Warehouse Pre-Op and Post-Op/Morning Stretches)
2. Weekly Events (Full Team Meetings/Maintenance Meetings in front of plant boards/Providing an opportunity for short updates, changes, visitors, etc. – enabling everyone to find out about items together)
3. Bi-weekly Sessions (Food Safety Team Meetings)
4. Monthly Opportunities (Warehouse Team Events/Celebrations - what’s happened and improvements or if there are failures, what can we do to improve?/Participants are encouraged to share one thing going well and one thing they might find frustrating)
5. Quarterly Meetings (Management Meetings/Food Safety/Sales and Marketing)
6. Strategic Planning
Each meeting comes with an Agenda and Minutes and any issues are addressed before the next session. You can also find white boards available throughout the plant where messages can be left visibly. And, should something like a customer complaint evolve, they can pull everyone in on the matter so a decision is made and issue is resolved quickly and effectively.
And keeping those communication channels open, they make use of “Afterburner” sessions – where they meet every six weeks addressing any frustrations or issues and resolving as possible.
They also celebrate milestones and engage people on a regular basis including birthdays, BRC Bar-B-Ques, and Team events such as wall climbing.
Our Host then shared elements of their Food Safety program from an internal and external perspective including supplier report cards. Malabar is very engaged in a number of Associations and Sectoral Organizations and is HACCP and BRC Certified. They value their industry membership (OIMP/CIFST as examples), that help identify current issues and regulatory compliances that they need to be aware of.
We chatted about Supplier visits and approval processes that include things like service, quality, pricing and grade of product as well as on-time delivery, customer service and expectations on consistent quality.Malabar also values their customer relationships and keeps them informed through a bi-monthly industry related newsletter they have created. They also take full advantage of the opportunity to keep their website fresh, blog regularly and post on social media. They conduct Customer Satisfaction Surveys, ask for feedback regularly and meet in person when they can.
Conversation then led to vendor tours. Malabar has created a formal checklist and set times to visit. This affords them the chance to develop an overall perception of the company which they can then relay to their Team after in the form of pictures, reports if visited or in follow-up calls to vendors. Having an understanding of their supplier’s products and production processes can better equip them for their customer needs allowing them to be prepared for any potential food safety risks, production critical control points, metal detection requirements, and mock recalls, etc. They expect most of their suppliers to be GFSI compliant.
Recommended Reading: Doris Valade, President and Founder of Malabar Super Spice Company, suggested a couple of books that she found to be quite interesting and helpful:
The Goal, Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Jeff Cox, North River Press (2004) http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/113934.The_Goal
Flawless Execution, James Murphy, Harper Business (2006) https://www.amazon.ca/Flawless-Execution-Techniques-Americas-Business/dp/0060834161
To learn more about Malabar - please visit their website at www.malabarsuperspice.com!
Rountable Networking Discussion:
Our session then opened up to Roundtable Discussion – providing everyone with a chance to share perspectives, opportunities and to seek peer insight leading to some interesting dialogue around items such as:
- Tracing and tracking – benefits and challenges of moving from paperwork to automated systems
- Mixing room and hand awareness – how do you keep safety in mind so that it becomes something that occurs almost as an unconscious action (ie. Washing hands)
- Efficient use of space
- Exploring possibilities and seeing what could be – manifested in a line environment
- What is clean vs spotless
- Communication – visibility
- Culture development – getting buy-in and developing engagement
- GF2 Intake – mid-October to early November
Very, very special thanks to our Host – Malabar Super Spice Company – for sharing their best practices on striving for Food Safety excellence and for a wonderful plant tour as well!
All the best as always!
Bren de Leeuw, Director - EMC Food, Beverage, Bio & Ag Program Canada
Excellence In Manufacturing Consortium - email@example.com - 519-372-6009