are servicing equipment when it is minus 30 degrees centi- grade outside and hours away from a service shop. It made us create products that are very high-quality, very reliable, which could work in any conditions. Now we’re selling products globally and we don’t have any concerns about a wider reach with our products because of their proven reliability. Recently, we’ve done several presentations to a multibillion-dollar organization who absolutely couldn’ t believe our warranty numbers. We’ve developed some- thing that can withstand Northern Alberta and it follows that if a shipment goes into a nice moderate climate, it will certainly stay robust.” Staying robust is also at the heart of VMAC’s lean journey. Lean manufacturing or lean production is a systemat- ic method for waste minimization within a manufacturing system that doesn’t sacrifice productivity or customer value. “There are a lot of people who see lean as a cost-cutting exercise, but it’s not at all,” Tod explained. When it’s done right, it focuses on company culture and people. We’ve come to realize that lean is a lot about respect, respecting each other’s ideas and assessments, and getting everyone engaged. For example, every week every employee at VMAC has at least one hour dedicated to continuous improvement. So it doesn’t matter what position you are in and it doesn’t matter how busy you are, everyone has to take at least an hour a week or four hours a month and work on some sort of improvement project. The result of that is that people really feel like they can make a difference outside of their area of expertise; it’s an opportunity to go learn a new skill. We really push and promote the ‘can-do attitude’ and if you’ve got an idea to improve something, do it! It is really remarkable to see the impact this has. We have got people who have been in the same position for 10 or 15 years who are really excited to come to work to do something they have never done before.” As the former Executive Vice President, Tod isn’t exactly doing something he’s never done before but that hasn’t quashed his excitement – even in an economic climate threatened by isolationistic reforms. “You can look at things in a number of ways, but I really feel all this trade war talk is opportunity,” he said. “I mean this latest news on threats over the steel and the aluminum industry, if that goes through, the result is prices are probably going to come down in Canada because we have an oversupply, our Canadian dollar will take a hit, which it has already, which means our products are more desirable for our customers in the US. That’s something that we really try and focus on: anything in the news or threats or dis- ruption is looked at as opportunity. There’s always ways to overcome a challenge. The opportunities for manufactur- ing in Canada is something that I feel doesn’t get enough attention. We really can compete on a global scale and it seems like there is a bit of focus going away from it, espe- cially through the education system – and that’s a lot of lost opportunity. Educating people on what’s out there, what we can do, building-up the confidence again would mean a lot to our industry.”



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