BC Lower Mainland: 2019 In Review

December 15, 2019 Bren de LeeuwBC Lower Mainland 107 Views

On behalf of all of us at EMC, we wish you the very, very best of the holiday season and we look forward to an exciting New Year ahead!

What an absolutely wonderful year!  It has been full of opportunities to meet new people, network on issues of relevance, learn from best practices shared and garner insight from some amazing plant tours too!

BC Lower Mainland SIG (Strategic Interest Group) Events:

Very, very special thanks to all of our EMC Member Manufacturers and Guests who joined us over the course of the year participating in our inaugural BC Lower Mainland SIG (Strategic Interest Group) Peer Networking Events!  It was absolutely fabulous to learn more about your companies and products and to engage in discussion on the issues at hand and opportunities ahead!

I also want to extend my sincere gratitude to our Hosts this year – who warmly welcomed everyone to the table and/or shared best practices, journey’s to date, keenly engaged in discussion and provided such great plant tours! 

Thank you!!        AIT – Advanced Integration Technology - Langley
                             Factors Group of Nutritional Companies – Coquitlam
                             Singer Valve (a Division of the Mueller Water Products Co.) - Surrey


We began our EMC BC Lower Mainland SIG (Strategic Interest Group) Peer Networking Events in May and focused on the #1 issue facing Manufacturers across the Region, the Province and the Country – Talent Attraction and Retention.  This particular session generated some great conversations around specific challenges and how companies are addressing those through current practices in place.  We tackled discussion around the questions below – and thoughts, experiences, and suggestions for improvement in our programs were freely provided:

  • What are the key factors that you feel makes your company attractive to a prospective new hire?
  • What strategies/tools/means are you deploying to attract candidates?   How are you developing your talent pipeline?
  • Are there specific challenges that add complexity to your hiring plans?
    How are you creating a positive candidate experience?
    What are some of your best retention strategies/practices?
  • With a growing number of retirees, how are you ensuring knowledge transfer?  Do you have a strategy that enables senior employees to continue with the company by sharing experiences, learnings, wisdom etc.?
  • How do we change the perception of manufacturing? Do you have ideas on engaging youth in industry?

In June, we turned our thoughts to “The Future of Manufacturing” and we were pleased to have EMC’s Scott McNeil-Smith, National Director, Projects and Partnerships, join us to share his perspectives on how the world and manufacturing is changing and what the future holds in store from an industry perspective!

Scott touched on everything from Workforce Issues (Shortages/Future Skills/ Productivity), Technical Impacts (Advanced Manufacturing and Automation/ Digitization/Cybersecurity) and Sustainability (Energy/Carbon/Legislative Impacts/Strategies).  He mentioned that as manufacturers seek to build their future, increasing issues affecting business growth are driving additional demands on day-to-day operations and the ability to remain competitive.  We began by looking at the top challenges manufacturers are facing in 2019 and Scott mentioned that for the first time in seven years, the skills shortage has overtaken cost control. 

It was a very enlightening session that touched on a number of different business aspects relating to the world around us and the future of manufacturing!

Kicking off the Fall, we were delighted to have Jeremy Sim, Continuous Improvement Manager, share an overview of The Factors Group Lean Journey to date!  Discussions of this nature are always extra-special.  We are all working towards continuous improvement initiatives – some are at the beginning of this journey, others are well on their way.  Peer experiences can bring so much insight to the table that not only encourages others to take those first steps, but also challenges those on similar paths to adopt or seek out new and innovative processes to complement their own endeavours!

The company started their lean journey in 2013 and have embraced many of the tools and techniques since then including basic lean concepts, 5S, Kanban, Visual Management, Kaizen and EPS and Value Stream Mapping along with the creation of CI Talks.  Currently they are working through the Six Sigma Belt Program and also utilizing a Lean Facilitator to develop their Leadership Team.  Moving forward, they are also working with Accounting and HR to demonstrate the value of lean and continuous improvement undertakings. 

Our final Event focused on Leadership In Manufacturing and roundtable discussion embodied everything from roles and responsibilities, to leadership attributes, engaging and developing our talent, and how we as Leaders can help those following in our footsteps to be better equipped to deal with the future of Manufacturing!

Through the course of our session, those present shared perspectives on what leadership is.  We also talked about people we admire who demonstrate such qualities both inside and outside our organizations.  And following, an interesting conversation rounded out our dialogue as we thought about how we can identify and develop talent to meet the needs of our Manufacturing communities in 2020 and beyond.  Discussion included:

  • What is leadership?  What is the role of a Leader?
  • What makes a great leader – what are some of the best attributes?
  • What are the biggest issues facing your company and your industry today?  What is the Leader’s role in when it comes to managing these challenges - change, growth, talent, etc.?
  • Looking at the culture within your organization, as Leaders how do you develop, connect, and engage your Teams?
  • How has leadership changed?
  • How do you identify leadership potential and then cultivate that talent?
  • What is your leadership pipeline like and how do you identify and develop that next generation of leaders?   What are some of the challenges you face?
  • What will tomorrow’s leaders need to take stock of to be successful?  How can you help?
  • How do you grow yourself – to build your understanding of being a better leader?

Business Briefing:

We were also pleased to have visited with our Community Partners in Squamish this Fall and shared information on the Future of Manufacturing and some of our programs and initiatives available to the Manufacturers in the Region.  Our sincerest appreciation to the Economic Development Team at the District of Squamish for arranging this wonderful opportunity!

National Advantage Through Excellence – Future of Manufacturing Conference:

This year we held our EMC National Advantage Through Excellence – Future of Manufacturing Conference in Vaughan, Ontario which brought together Manufacturers from all Sectors across Canada - from BC through to Newfoundland!

Very special thanks to Heinz Avendano, Vice President of Manufacturing at Primex Manufacturing Ltd. in Langley, who participated as a Panelist at the Conference.  The Panel Discussion shared insight on empowering supervisors and production workers to solve real workplace problems using certification programs and applied learning through Workplace Performance Projects.  The focus of the panel discussion was on the changing nature of work in the manufacturing sector, employee innovation, engagement, collaboration to solve business issues, future skills requirements and the EMC Manufacturing Essentials Certification (MEC).

I was so pleased to have representation from BC at this Conference and was delighted to be able to introduce delegates to peers from across the Country!  One thing about EMC’s National Conference – there is a considerable amount of opportunity available to meet Manufacturers on a peer to peer basis and to create long-lasting relationships with companies of all sizes in every part of Canada!  The icing on the cake – being able to learn from best practices and subject matter experts on the issues of most importance to you!

One of the most exciting moments at this years’ Event was the presentation of our EMC Manufacturing Excellence Awards.  There were a number of categories based on Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation; Export Development and Growth; Operational Excellence; and the Future State of Manufacturing.  Recognition was also made for Outstanding Manufacturers; Skills Development and Training; and Sustainability.  I was absolutely thrilled when they announced that the Factors Group from Coquitlam, BC had won both an award for Operational Excellence and for Outstanding Manufacturer!  During our Leadership in Manufacturing Event, we presented Jeremy Sim with these along with our heartiest congratulations to him and the entire Team at the Factors Group!

Learning and Development Opportunities:

This year has also been a tremendous opportunity for companies to engage in both MEC (Manufacturing Essentials Certification) and our online EMC - Harvard Supervisory Certificate Program.  On behalf of my Colleagues who deliver this training, we thank you for your support and continued interest in these special learning opportunities and offer our heartiest congratulations to all of this year’s graduates!!  It has been nothing short of an amazing year for our MEC and EMC - Harvard Grads and we are looking forward to some more great programming in 2020!!

In closing, I thank you all once again for your interest, participation at our Networking Events and Training Programs, insight and feedback, for Hosting and sharing best practices, and for connecting with your peers in industry and for the warm welcomes during plant visits – all is very, very much appreciated!!

As always, if there is ever anything that I can do for you, or your would like to know more about our programs and services, by all means please feel free to reach out any time!

On behalf of our entire Team at EMC, we wish you and your loved ones peace, joy and happiness throughout the holiday season!  And, without a doubt, we look forward to an exciting 2020 filled with learning opportunities!

Happy Holidays!


Bren de Leeuw, Western Canada Operations
Excellence In Manufacturing Consortium - - 519-372-6009