“Made In Canada” – Worth Bragging About
By Umair Abdul, Assistant Editor
Recently, we attended an annual open house at the headquarters of injection molding machine supplier Arburg Inc. in Lossburg, Germany. (A full write-up on the event is on pages 7-8 if you're interested; a video of the visit is at...
Recently, we attended an annual open house at the headquarters of injection molding machine supplier Arburg Inc. in Lossburg, Germany. (A full write-up on the event is on pages 7-8 if you’re interested; a video of the visit is at https://www.canplastics.com/video/episode24.asp if you’re really interested.)
We had also attended last year’s open house at the same facility, and often speak with, and work with, many other European companies as part of our editorial coverage. Every time we speak with these manufacturers, I’m struck by how proud these companies – suppliers and processors alike – are of their unique local histories.
Many of the business leaders that we’ve worked with from across the Atlantic won’t hesitate to talk at length about how their companies came to be, and of the deep ties their corporation has with the region.
Having worked in the Canadian plastics industry now for a couple of years, I do have to say that this sense of national pride is a bit harder to find amongst Canadian manufacturers. Don’t get me wrong: we’re definitely very proud of where we come from. But when it comes to doing business, we just don’t seem to talk about our country, and cities there in the same way as some of our European friends.
As I leave the magazine – this will be my last issue as an editor for Canadian Plastics – the stories that stick with me the most are the company and leader profiles we’ve done over the last two years. These pieces allowed us to present the local histories of companies and people, showing their deep ties to Canada.
By our very name, we are a magazine about plastics. But the first half of our magazine’s name, the “Canadian” part, is often implicit. We talk about Canadian companies, and cover the important issues that are of significance to Canadian manufacturers. But we rarely have the opportunity to talk about the importance of being Canadian, and keeping production in Canada.
Let’s be straight: I’m not talking about being more protectionist here, though the recent wave of protectionism is definitely part of my thinking. As disgruntled consumers and laid-off workers redirect their anger at big business, companies like Toyota are running ads touting their Canadian production. What better time is there to be seen as a Canadian company, with local origins and strong regional ties?
This isn’t just about some romantic idea of nationalism. The European companies mentioned above do business internationally, but also talk about where they come from. And I believe that this is a part of what makes them so successful.
At an industry meeting last year, a marketing consultant put Canada on graphs with many of our competitors, rating us in areas like cost, quality, stability, et cetera. Not surprisingly, Canada ranked high on almost all the counts.
Sure, maybe we can’t compete on cost against many low-cost regions, but we usually have them beat when it comes to technology and innovation. Our country has a strong infrastructure and a stable political climate, and we can provide significant inroads into the North American market. On top of all of that, we have strong trade ties with almost every major international market, a qualified workforce, and a competitive dollar.
And despite this significant advantage, many companies still seem reticent when it comes time to talk about their history. From where I stand, our strongest companies don’t just tell their customers that they are “proudly Canadian.” They use it as a selling point.
In parting, I’d like to thank everyone in this industry who shared their know-how and experience with me. But I’d especially like to thank the business leaders who taught me how important it is, at least from a manufacturing perspective, to be Canadian.