Garden of Opportunity

April 7, 2021 Bren de LeeuwFood & Beverage 203 Views

Spring is in the air and with it, there is likely to be new-found inspiration to move forward on long-awaited projects – whether digging in to see where you might improve performance, decrease downtime, or configure possibilities for new equipment, processes or products – regardless it’s a great time to connect with colleagues, embrace learning from a professional development standpoint, and broaden perspectives through peer experiences! 

Despite all that has transpired with the pandemic, our spirit for improvement, growth and innovation continues.  And this season is clearly appropriate to carefully cultivate ideas and sow that accumulated knowledge - and those valuable lessons learned over the cold winter months - into a thriving Maintenance and Continuous Improvement “garden of opportunity”!

With the interests of industry at the core of all we do, the Excellence In Manufacturing Consortium (EMC), a not-for-profit association of Manufacturers across Canada, provides opportunities for Members to “grow” through ongoing professional development, peer networking, knowledge sharing, best practice experiences, and plant tours.  We also serve as a conduit for community partner support, resources, and the delivery of timely subject matter expertise when required or requested. 

Sharing ideas, challenges and sourcing outside perspectives has always been a fundamental element of our programming.  With a family of over 60 consortiums across Canada, meeting EMC members, especially in these virtual times, is an easy task!  The ability to make meaningful connections with others in similar roles and journey’s  just represents one element in our amazing toolbox to help your grow!  Beyond this, there are so many other aspects to derive value from including special member programming, training, and funding initiatives that can lead to an abundance of opportunities to help you enable business competitiveness!

With plans laid out for upcoming Food, Beverage, Bio and Ag Sector activities, I took a moment to step back to reflect and appreciate the incredible array of EMC Events that have taken place over the past decade for those in the Sector.  Truly, it was like an incredible fishbone diagram at one point -– one set of bones for Food Safety, another for Maintenance, another again for Supply Chain Management and so forth and all the common areas that feather out from there!  

I thought it would be interesting to pull just Maintenance and Continuous Improvement out of the compilation and look strictly at those, but then I realized so quickly, that maintenance is engaged in everyone of these identified areas!  It ties us altogether – weaving in out of direct projects, to health and safety, leadership and so forth.  Maintenance is an integral part of every company’s “garden of opportunity”!  The entire list of course demonstrating the tremendous amount of knowledge shared over the years, not to mention insight on improvement possibilities – whether from a development standpoint, a plant improvement, investment or Leadership.

Take a moment and peruse the list below, and consider if you will:

  • How many of these issues resonate with you? May impact your next project, your role at large?
  • What would enhance your skills, your knowledge? 
  • Are there some that would be of particular interest to network with peers on?
  • Perhaps you are on a similar journey, have a best practice to share related to the topics listed, or are curious about those who have connected on the same aspect of business?
  • What is on your wish list to learn?  What are we missing and what can we tackle next?

We would be very interested to hear from you and if you have ideas to share, please reach out.

Maintenance & Continuous Improvement

Food Safety

  • Operations Overview and Lean Journey
  • Project Management for the Office
  • Identifying Process Improvement Ideas
  • Improving Shop floor Execution and Measurement Through the Adoption of Digital Technology
  • Continuous Improvement Strategies
  • Production and Scheduling
  • 5S and Decision-Mapping
  • Rapid Improvement Team – Improving Efficiencies
  • Implementing Technology on the Plant Floor
  • Maintenance
  • Conveyor and Line Control Solutions


  • Corrective Actions – Internally and With Suppliers
  • Food Traceability
  • Food Safety and Food Labelling
  • Building a culture of Food Safety and Traceability
  • World Class Food Safety Best Practices
  • Food Safety/SQF Certification
  • Striving for Excellence in Food Safety
  • Food Safety Traceability and KPI Tracking
  • Packaging, Labelling and Innovation
  • Positive Impact of Digitalization on Food Safety



Health and Safety

Supply Chain Management

  • Emergency Evacuation Planning
  • Safety Walk and Best Practices on Health and Safety
  • Evaluating Your Personal Protective Equipment
  • Building a Healthy Workplace with Ergonomics
  • Supply Chain Management 1
  • Supply Chain Management 2 – Getting Your Suppliers on Board
  • Leadership and Supply Chain Management
  • Logistics, Transportation and Border Issues

Human Resources

Business Growth

  • Literacy and Multiculturalism
  • Attendance Management
  • Coaching as an HR Tool
  • Ministry of Labour and Legal Updates
  • Reward and Recognition Programs
  • Surviving an MOL Fine – Lessons Learned
  • Aging Workforce and Duty to Accommodate – Retirement and Severance
  • Accountability and Consequences – Policies and Procedures
  • Institute of Food Processing Technology Trades and Apprenticeship Programs
  • Mental Stress and Accommodation
  • Attendance Management
  • Change Management
  • Assessing Employee Performance
  • Talent Attraction and Retention Best Practices
  • Talent Review and Building Performance
  • People Involving People
  • Utilizing Engineering Students
  • Generational Workplace Issues
  • Leveraging Opportunities Through Apprenticeships
  • EAP Programs – Measuring Cost Effectiveness and Benefit Analysis
  • Turnaround Interviews
  • Skills Management Using Learning Technologies
  • Culture Development
  • Helping You Fund and Plan the Growth of your Business
  • Foreign Exchange Opportunities
  • Dealing with Rapid Growth
  • Retail Management and Merchandising
  • Food Export Workshop
  • Business Growth, Development, Expansion and Innovation
  • Business Growth and ERP Implementation
  • Creating Opportunities for Business Growth in the Food Sector
  • Remaining Competitive in the Food Sector Today
  • Funding Opportunities
  • Dealing with Rapid Growth
  • First Steps in Exporting
  • Business Growth through Encouraging Learning and Empowering Your People
  • How to Leverage Digitalization in the Food and Beverage Processing Industry
  • Why We Need to be Looking at Automation
  • Future of Manufacturing in the Food Industry
  • Risk Management
  • Business Continuity Planning




  • Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
  • Environmental Issues
  • The Road to Net Zero Waste
  • Sustainability:  A Business Strategy
  • Lean and Green Initiatives
  • The Road to Net Zero Waste
  • Sustainability
  • Energy Management
  • Environmental Monitoring


  • Building Positive Employee Relations
  • Developing Employee Engagement and Accountability
  • Teambuilding
  • High Performance Work Teams on the Shop Floor
  • Shaping Your Company’s Culture and Developing Leaders for the Future
  • How to Lead a Good Company to Greatness
  • Developing Supervisory Leadership Skills
  • Getting Back to Basics
  • Leadership Development and Employee Engagement
  • Leadership in Manufacturing
  • Change Management – Overcoming Resistance, Building Buy-In and Getting Real Results


Each topic also brings to mind the incredible hospitality of our Hosts, Presenters, and Community Partners across the Country and their undertakings to make these sessions valuable for the participants!  The opportunity to visit, when times are safer, will be welcomed very much.  At the end of the day, appreciating the fact that you are not alone in your journey to become better, is very important.  Knowing that you can connect with a peer, a community partner, our Team – and that additional support or ideas are simply a telephone/email away is pretty powerful! 

As outlined earlier, our efforts are all designed to enable competitiveness in the industry, to assist where we can, address challenges as they unfold, and look to the future and how we can shape our businesses and our Teams to be better, stronger and more capable producing goods we can all be proud of with a talented team of individuals! 

Taking a page from our own Maintenance and Continuous Improvement “garden of opportunity” notes, as mentioned above, we are constantly seeking input from Manufacturers and Community Partners across the Country to ensure that your opportunities and challenges are addressed.  What keeps you awake at night?  How can we help?

The Team at EMC, looks forward to growing with you – to assisting as we can in your professional development growth through peer connections, networking activity, services and programs all designed to enable competitiveness, improve effectiveness and efficiencies and build talent in today’s Manufacturing environment!

What’s next for our EMC Food, Beverage, Bio and Ag Sector?  First and foremost, an awesome session on “Change Management – Overcoming Resistance, Building Buy-In and Getting Real Results” with Laura Lee-Blake, Chief People Officer with Pearle Hospitality Inc. (former Vice President - Human Resources at Campbell Company of Canada)"  Mark your calendars for June 3rd, 2021 and join us!

Upcoming Food and Beverage Sector Events follow:

  • EMC Food, Beverage & Bio Sector ZOOM Webinar Networking Event

03-Jun-21 – Laura Lee Blake

Change Management - Overcoming Resistance, Building Buy-In and Getting Real Results


  • EMC Food, Beverage & Bio Sector ZOOM Webinar Networking Event

02-Dec-21 – Carol Vandenhoek, Lawyer

Issues Impacting the Food Industry – Legislative Update

For those who would like to learn more:  Excellence In Manufacturing Consortium (EMC) first began in 1997 with a group of like-minded Manufacturers who were interested in learning, benchmarking and subsequently growing their businesses.  Recognized as a well-grounded, not-for-profit association of manufacturers, EMC works with companies of all sizes and sectors across Canada building on the first principles of peer networking and providing services and programs that enable development of people and of industry.

How do you get involved?  If you are interested in learning more about EMC (Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium) and the Food & Beverage Sector Initiative, please feel free to touch base with Bren de Leeuw, Vice President, Community Partnerships and Stakeholder Relations anytime!