Canadian Plastics

Profile: Core values make good business sense

In an interview with Canadian Plastics, Robert Schad shares his views on corporate responsibility and giving back to society.On his 75th birthday Robert Schad has his choice of memories in the injecti...

November 1, 2003   Canadian Plastics



In an interview with Canadian Plastics, Robert Schad shares his views on corporate responsibility and giving back to society.

On his 75th birthday Robert Schad has his choice of memories in the injection molding machinery business. As an engineer he could choose to reminisce on particular technical achievements in high-speed, high-pressure injection molding. But in a face-to-face interview he prefers to talk about corporate responsibility that lately has eluded so many chief executives.

Core values of corporate responsibility are what floats Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd., Schad explained in a recent interview. Responsibility to customers, employees and the community are integral to Husky’s business. Shareholders will get the best deal possible when Husky puts these responsibilities ahead of conventional, short-term financial yardsticks, Schad stressed.

Schad built his philosophy into Husky’s modus operandi long before corporate mission statements sprouted throughout the business world. Many companies drafted mission statements as a new business fad in the 1980s. They usually had little substance beyond logo extensions. In dramatic contrast to most corporate peers, Schad delivered the goods outlined in Husky’s corporate philosophy.

From world-class day-care facililties to support of environmental causes Husky has spent big dollars on ensuring employee and community health.

“It is good business sense,” Schad explained. “Our core values are why we are here today. We are the strongest North American injection molding systems company today.”

That’s not an easy claim to make when the market for injection molding machines is as depressed as it is now. Equipment sales in the industry are 30 percent below the levels of the year 2000, Husky estimates. Yet the Bolton, Ontario, firm boosted its sales by 40 percent and returned to profitability in its latest year ended July 31.

Improved results partly derive from Husky’s willingness to diversify.

Long the gold standard supplier for PET bottle preform molds, thinwall packaging and related molds and injection presses, Husky has widened its scope. New Index and Hylectric machine platforms and hot runner innovations help make Husky machinery suited to a wider range of markets. And the firm keeps investing in innovation to ensure it is ready to pounce on new opportunities.

Its massive technical center in Michigan promises breakthroughs in automotive molding. A new technical center in Shanghai will support customers growing in Asia. At all its facilities it continues to invest in technology for better productivity and quality.

Schad’s emphasis on innovation and corporate responsibility imbues Husky with a strong and obvious culture. A stroll around the grounds of corporate headquarters is a study in ecologically natural wildlife. The corporate hallways abound with Canadian art, mainly wildlife scenes by such masters as Robert Bateman. Work areas are ergonomically designed to foster imagination and focus. The cafeteria and other employee services promote healthy living. And none of this seems to be window dressing or a public relations exercise. Schad’s stamp is evident in the details.

Such a strong culture, of course, is not for everyone. Husky looks for special qualities when it hires employees. Experience is not necessarily the main criterion.

“Values, intelligence and spark fit our culture,” Schad stressed. “If you don’t measure up, you don’t stay.”

And not everyone does stay with Husky for their entire careers.

Canada’s machinery industry includes more than a few Husky alumni, some of whom started businesses in direct competition with the Bolton firm. Indeed, one can argue that Husky has been a catalyst for Canada’s injection molding equipment sector being much larger than the country’s population would suggest.

Schad built Husky over a 50-year period after arriving in Canada from Germany. He is one of a handful of immigrants who shaped Canada’s plastics industry from humble beginnings. Unlike most, however, he is a philosopher who has melded his personal commitments to his corporate ones.

Protecting the environment is high on his list of commitments. Some twenty years ago he concluded that environmental integrity is among mankind’s most important issues. He arrived at the decision after long deliberation and consultation with the likes of primate researcher Jane Goodall and envirionmentalist David Suzuki. There is room for business on this planet with finite resources if we act responsibly. The plastics industry plays a role in this, Schad said. It provides previously unattainable efficiencies in areas as diverse as packaging and data storage. How much paper does a compact disc replace?

Schad wants eventually to expound his philosophies in a book.

While he won’t reveal much of the content he will admit he has found his life evolved in three major stages: first, learning. Next, a drive to translate the knowledge into success. And, most importantly, maturing to a stage with the largesse and capability to give something meaningful back to society.


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