DEALING WITH BUSINESS GROWTH: In the spirit of staying abreast of industry needs, it happened by chance that we were approached by a couple of very entrepreneurial companies interested in exploring the topic of “business growth”. An interesting subject in that it technically embraces every facet of an organization from product to process to people and so forth.
Growth in and of itself is necessary for survival and it should stand to reason that it does not come without effort and brings both opportunities and challenges. However, with today’s technology and open-mindedness at sharing, there is a mecca of resources available to help companies find success on their journey’s. Growth also affords us the opportunity to develop and appreciate the imperativeness of partnerships with those who compliment activities enabling our business success. These partnerships if you will may come through industry, government, EMC, sectoral or association organizations, service providers and peers to name a few.
What does this mean to you in your business today? Whether exploring enhanced processes or new product development, assessing labour productivity needs, determining your competitive market position, or considering expansion – this event provided participants with the opportunity to meet industry representatives and service providers and to learn about programs that may assist them in their journey to “grow their business”.
Together with our Host and Community Partner, City of Mississauga Economic Development Office, and guest speakers (Matt & Steve’s, OMAFRA, Export Development Canada, Colliers International, Coldbox Builders, CPG Executive, and Value Stream Solutions), we welcomed a variety of companies from across Ontario all interested in the topic at hand and the opportunity to connect with providers and peers. It was a great day that was jam-packed with real growth experiences, information, resources to tap into, and new contacts to help those interested forge forward!
Setting the stage, we took some time to learn where our companies were coming from in light of the topic at hand and we agreed that growth entails so many aspects of business from: marketing to exporting; production to food safety; legislative compliances and certifications; increased labour needs; equipment and automation; training; increased space to new builds or new locations, and the list goes on! Some general elements to ponder…
- Growth takes commitment, patience and persistence.
- Understanding your market is imperative – what are your customers looking for, what are they willing to pay for, who are your competitors – how can you differentiate yourself? Etc. Etc. Etc.
- Embrace failure – it is an opportunity to learn
- Prepare yourself in the event of a quick acceleration of growth – how will you meet the demand? Are you prepared – people, product, process?
- Business plans are key – directional map of the company
- Focus on what you can control
- Prepare for the unexpected – it can come from anywhere ie. Fire, sickness, lawsuit, etc.
This special event was designed to enable companies to not only hear and learn from an entrepreneurial manufacturer’s experiences, but also to highlight a few of the programs, resources and key connections that our Community Partners and Service Providers can help you with.
Matt & Steve’s
We were thrilled to have Matt LaRochelle, an Owner/Founder of Matt & Steve’s join us to share their journey as it relates to business growth. Matt & Steve’s is the market leader of a wonderful pickled spicy bean which evolved from their desire to create a signature Caesar garnish. This is an excellent entrepreneurial company that began with a simple idea for a niche product which today (with national distribution serving both retail and food services) you can find on the grocery shelves from coast to coast across Canada and the US. The company that began with two now employs over 50 people and has consistently expanded outgrowing their humble apartment beginnings where the idea was first formed and three times since at the large unit they presently reside in.
Matt will be the first to admit that as owners, they were “paid the least and worked the longest” and only now are beginning to relax somewhat as they grow a supportive team around them. That support echoes right through to decision making processes which are owned by the whole Operations Team including Sales and Marketing.
Did you know that one Jar of Extreme beans are consumed every 22.5 seconds in Canada? The Company likes working with them because it’s a simple product with a consistent cost and little waste and Matt & Steve’s now processes over 1.5 million pounds of raw beans per year! They are proud Canadians and do their best to promote that through their product offerings by sourcing as much as possible from Ontario (and what is left from North America). As much as the raw ingredient presents itself as a “simple product”, transforming their beans into a finished good is a somewhat labour intensive endeavour. Canning as an example, is still done by hand, making it too costly to produce from a co-packing standpoint. In the spirit of continuous improvement and moving forward, they are actively pursuing means in which to automate more of the in-house processes. As far as accreditation, Matt & Steve’s is proudly both CFIA and FDA certified .
Growing of course has not been without its hurdles and Matt mentioned a few they have encountered which many in attendance could relate to including:
Contracts and working with suppliers
Supply and demand
Improving plant efficiencies
One of the items that our speaker mentioned was very important was having solid food safety and traceability programs in place and that they are the key to helping him “sleep well at night”! Programs like these are there to help and tools, like audits, are great indicators if something needs to be addressed or altered allowing the company to be proactive in these matters vs reactive. They are also very proud to have achieved a gold standard from NSF-GFTC.
For more information on Matt & Steve’s, please check out their website at: www.theextremebean.com. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!
Congratulations to Matt & Steve’s on your success and special thanks to Matt LaRochelle for sharing your journey!
City of Mississauga – Economic Development Office
D’Arcy Rahkola, Client Account Manager, Business Investment and Client Services, Economic Development Office for the City of Mississauga welcomed everyone to this special event and gave an excellent overview of how Economic Development can assist businesses in this Region and beyond. Economic development is all about helping businesses grow, including attraction, retention and expansion. They enhance business and collaborate with various industries, education and community stakeholders to ensure a supportive business environment.
Representatives can assist you via a number of means when it comes to growth including providing business intelligence/understanding business issues and trends, customer service, site location support, statistical/data support, issue resolution, facilitation, small business assistance and conducting marketing to promote economic development and the City. When it comes to planning approval – they can help sort through red flags, help to connect you with the right people and walk-through projects for advice and insight. They can also assist in issues of importance such as busing to and from places of employment, and fire prevention to name a couple. In essence, the Team at the City of Mississauga, Economic Development Office is there so you can spend less time at City Hall.
Centrally located in the Province, businesses such as Matt and Steve’s help provide employment for over 10,000 in the Food and Beverage Sector alone – making up 18% of the total manufacturing jobs available in the area. The City of Mississauga has some very attractive attributes such as:
- 135 M consumers within a day's drive or inside a 1.5 hour flight
- 130 languages are spoken here
- 1,400 multinational companies
- 2/3 of adults have post-secondary education
Check out their website for some useful links and information - www.mississauga.ca - or feel free to connect with D'Arcy at 905-615-3200 ext.5022 or via email darcy.rahkola.ca.
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) supports growth and innovation in the Province’s agri-food industry and provides a wide variety of resources.
An important partner, OMAFRA Representatives are happy to assist anyone in the food sector. They have a number of resources and people who can help you as you navigate through the myriad of opportunities and necessary requirements for producing food, beverage, bio or ag products in the Province of Ontario.
Our Speakers – Athar Shah and Peter Ilnyckyj, both Sector Specialists - provided a great overview of the Business Development Branch which encompasses four key areas: Domestic Marketing and Branding; Ontario Food Exports; Strategic Intelligence and Marketing; and Business and Investment. Through their presentation they highlighted a number of key programs and resources including:
Foodland Ontario and Logo Requirements
OFEX (Ontario Food Exports) – Buyers, Trade Events, Regulatory Information, World Connections
Business Investment and Development – Helping Businesses have Better Business Outcomes
Strategic Intelligence and Marketing
Federal, Provincial and Municipal Government Programs and Resources
Business Development and Funding
Energy and Water
For more information on OMAFRA’s services, please visit the following websites or contact our presenters per the information below:
Business Development Branch:
Athar Shah Athar.Shah@ontario.ca
Peter Ilnyckyj Peter.Ilnyckyj.ca
Invest in Ontario: http://www.investinontario.com
Food and Beverage Content: http://www.investinontario.com/food
Export Development Canada (EDC)
Export Development Canada (EDC) provides Canadian exporters with financing, insurance and bonding services, and foreign market expertise. As Canada’s Export Credit Agency, EDC assists companies protect their sales as they grow.
Our Speaker, Anna Piekarska, Account Manager, explained that EDC works very closely with Trade Commissioners at Embassy’s around the world. They can help you with a variety of elements as you look at exploring trading opportunities beyond Canada’s borders and have representatives in several countries. Our discussion included sales and risk mitigation tools, (accounts receivable insurance); trade protect products (insurance and receivables), working capital solutions (Financing Solutions, Foreign Exchange Guarantees - FEX, Bonding Services A-PSG), and central trade connections.
EDC has key industry focuses including the food and beverage sector and understands the markets in that regard. As a central conduit for trade, they want to help your growth and connect you as needed. They can also assist when it comes to developing research opportunities.
If you would like to connect with Team at EDC, they would be happy to assist as best they can!
Anna Piekarska, Account Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
EDC Website: www.edc.ca
When it comes to expanding to a new location, leasing or buying a property can be nothing short of a massive undertaking. It’s a costly endeavour that definitely involves some risk and it requires the right partners to execute this step as seamlessly as possible.
Stewart Metcalfe, Vice President, Food Advisory Group, represents Colliers International, a well-known commercial real estate firm, and he certainly broadened our awareness insofar as expansion requirements through an excellent presentation on the “Top Ten Most Important Things to Consider When Buying or Leasing a Food Plant.”
What are the top ten items to consider?
1. Mortgage Financing (Loan to Value Ratio, Recourse vs Non-Recourse, Personal Guarantees, Etc.)
2. Closing Costs (Lawyers Fees, Land Transfer Tax, Appraisal, Mortgage Fee, Survey Update, Etc.)
3. Realty Taxes (Industrial Rate vs Commercial Tax Rate, Reassessments)
4. Building Condition Audits (Best Insurance Policy)
5. Environmental Reports (Reliance Letters)
6. Title Insurance (Cost, Owners Policy, Providers)
7. Zoning (Legal Non-Conforming, By-Law Amendments, Height Restrictions, Outside Storage, Etc.)
8. Adjacent Users (Environmental Risks, Value Detractors, Logistical Issues)
9. Real Estate Broker Selection (Experience, Sector Representation, Scope of Services, Etc.)
10. Building Improvement Costs (Power, Floors, Refrigeration Equipment, Food Grade Lighting, Etc.)
Coldbox Builders are leaders in food processing, cold storage construction and controlled environments for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. They are a full-service design and construction firm who spoke to us specifically on new build projects and renovations.
Through our Speaker, Patrick Buenbrazo, Coldbox Builders’ Design-Build Food and Beverage Manager, we learned about methodologies such as “Design Build” and “Bid Build” and the types of contracts (Stipulated Price, Cost Plus, Construction Management) and the risk allocation between the Client and the Builder and the importance of choosing both the right partner and contract type. A couple of points to note on contractor selection and contract types follow:
- The importance of choosing the right partner based on elements such as:
* Experience and expertise
* Meeting the Team and Determining the Company's Culture
- Contract Types such as:
* Construction Management
* Cost Plus
* Design Build - Stipulated Price
Patrick also mentioned that the Canadian Design Build Institute also has some really good resources to tap into.
If you have questions or would like to learn more about contracts and risk allocation or design and construction in general, please feel free to connect with Patrick at email@example.com.
Coldbox Builders www.coldboxbuilders.ca
Canadian Design Build Institute www.cdbi.org
CPG Executive Search
We covered a lot of territory in our discussions but one of the integral components of growth is ensuring that you have a solid team behind you. Matt mentioned in his presentation at the start of the day that for some time they were “paid the least and worked the longest” and are only now are beginning to relax as they grow a supportive team around them.
As such, it was great to have Justin Pintwala of CPG Executive Search join us to share thoughts on “Hiring with a 90% Success Rate”.
Justin shared a wonderful quotation that set the tone for our discussion on labour needs:
“The most important decisions that business people make are no what decisions, but who decisions.”
- Jim Collins, Author, Good to Great
He mentioned that there are a number of reasons why we may not be successful in our hiring practices, for example:
- Being unclear about what is needed in a job
- Having a weak flow of candidates
- Not trusting your ability to select the right candidates
- Voodoo Hiring - not having the right interview abilities or proper interviewing techniques
Our Speaker suggested one of the best formats for setting a clear process for hiring is outlined in a book by GH Smart entitled “The A Method of Hiring”. Justin shared some of the methodology behind it which essentially encourages employers to hire candidates most likely to succeed in the position and integrate successfully into the culture of the company.
We talked about the development of specific Scorecards related to position that describe the exact role including the role’s mission (the essence of the job – why does this role exist?), outcomes (what must get done?), competencies (how do you expect the person to achieve the outcomes?), and cultural competencies (ensure organizational fit).
A Scorecard Sample – might include the following attributes:
Organization and Planning
Attention to Details
For the Senior Leadership Team, a Scorecard Strategy will help ensure hiring success moving forward, elements of which would include a process that would incorporate outcomes that:
Set expectation with new hires
Objectify annual review system
Allow you to rate team annually as part of the talent review process
Justin often offers webinars on hiring opportunities and if you would like to connect with respect to the information presented above or to participate in one of his upcoming sessions, please feel free to reach out to him at justin.com.
Value Stream Solutions
Our final presenter examined the productivity and culture aspect of business growth and some of the ways in which our business activities may change particularly around the dynamics of leadership. Chad Metcalf, President, Value Stream Solutions led a very interesting and engaged discussion on “What is Leadership” and through experience and business case examples, outlined the importance of developing the right organizational culture.
We started by exploring the premise of leadership in general and attributes we might admire. Lending to this part of the discussion, Chad shared one of his favourite quotes:
“A leader is someone you choose to follow to a place you would not go to by yourself.”
– Joel Barker
He mentioned that growth companies are all about change – change, of course, taking many forms. With that in mind, we talked about how to improve our jobs by doing more with less effort. We also looked at Vision and Values and how to utilize these tools which are truly meant to guide us when times are tough.
This naturally brought our focus to the right culture development for business growth and what obstacles to success exist in that regard, such as: senior management commitment levels, accountability and responsibility, no sense of urgency, non-existent or unrealistic strategies, etc. And we examined the principles of motivation and the difference between those who are highly motivated and those less so and how we might inspire people to go where they wouldn’t necessarily go on their own. An ideal employee might possess a positive attitude, be proactive, demonstrate initiative, are reliable, a problem solver, definitely motivated, and participates as a team player.
Our thought processes were then tuned to the difference between past and future leadership needs, leading by example and the opportunities via employee leadership. We considered why there might be some urgency in cultivating good leaders in business today – such as:
What are some future leadership characteristics?
- Clarity to information
- Building consensus
- Innovative thinker
- Adaptive/flexible/open to others ideas
- Great listener
- Invests in "relationship building"
- Life long learner
- Technological savvy
What should your Role as a Leader look like?
- Creating vision of future, context
- Bringing forth new ideas from people
- Encouraging participation
- Seeking all possible alternatives]great interpreter/listener
- Passion and conviction
- Ensuring alignment to strategy and vision
- “Doing things right!”
Your role as a Coach:
- Facilitating and empowering people, shifting behaviours
- Believe in/support of people
- Improving performance and building confidence
- Breaking paradigms and motivating people
- Listening for commitment and shared vision
- Operating from what is possible
- Recognizing achievements/acknowledging them/and declaring breakdowns
In summary, Chad shared that “Leadership is about how you behave and act and when there is aligned with your Vision and Values, it demonstrates consistency. Leaders are responsible for shaping the culture and culture will impact your results.”
It was an excellent finish to a very informative day and certainly there is a great deal to consider when it comes to business growth as it relates to leadership and culture development.
EMC offers a variety of courses on Leadership and Lean Productivity across Ontario for those in the food, beverage, bio and ag sectors enabling manufacturers to come together and gain insight on the basics of lean and the opportunities these tools and concepts can uncover in their organizations. These sessions are fully funded through GF2. Please feel free to touch base with our Program Delivery Department, Todd Oliver and Amy Edwards, if you would like to learn more!
If you are interested in having a similar session on “Dealing with Business Growth” provided in your Region, please let me know and we will certainly see what we can do to accommodate your interest in that regard.
Very, very special thanks to our Host, City of Mississauga Economic Development Office, and to our presenters – Matt & Steve’s, OMAFRA, EDC, Colliers International, Coldbox Builders, CPG Executive, and Value Stream Solutions! And many thanks as well to all those who participated in this very Special EMC Food Sector Event!!
All the best as always!
Bren de Leeuw, Director - EMC Food, Beverage, Bio & Ag Program Canada
Excellence In Manufacturing Consortium - bdeleeuw .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.