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#4 2012

A Newsletter for Manufacturers in Huron County

The Innovation Issue

What does innovation mean to you?

Monica Walker-Bolton, Manufacturing Co-ordinator

To some manufacturers innovation means dynamic changes like inventing new products or developing new manufacturing processes. In other cases it means making the most of the product, people and processes that you currently have, but moving outside your comfort zone to maximize your assets.

Your approach to innovation in your own shop or plant will reflect your own business style. No matter your style however, innovation is not optional. In today’s dynamic marketplace manufacturing businesses, yes even rural manufacturing businesses, must evolve to survive and thrive.

In this edition of Manufacts we serve up stories about Huron manufacturers who are generating new value in their businesses through a wide range of innovations. The stories in this newsletter challenge

Huron manufacturers to consider what drives innovation in their own businesses.

On November 15th the HMA will be celebrating the 7th Annual Manufacturing Excellence Awards. This event will showcase even more examples of how Huron manufacturers are innovating in product development, human resources, corporate responsibility, process improvement and health & safety.

If you have not attended the awards in the past, why not make this the year that you and a few staff members make a night out of it? You can learn about the innovative strides that your manufacturing neighbours are making in their segment of the Huron manufacturing sector. I bet you’ll pick up some ideas for developing your own innovative approaches to your business. For a little inspiration right now, read on.

Inquiries can be directed to the Huron Manufacturing Association, 57 Napier St., Goderich ON N7A 1W2. Phone 519-524-8394 ext 3/ Fax 519-524-5677

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Iceculture is a Popular Tour Destination

When the recession hit in 2008, Iceculture in Hensall, like so many other small businesses, took a huge hit and had to take dramatic steps to survive. ‘When you produce what people want and don’t need, you know you have to make some drastic changes when business stops coming in. And you have to re-invent yourselves pretty quickly and come up with new ideas for generating income’, says company founder, Julian Bayley.

Iceculture which recently went through a succession plan with the second generation of the family taking over, downsized immediately. Staff was cut by 50 %, cost-cutting measures were initiated in every department, wages were frozen and many internal expansion projects were cancelled or put on hold. New revenue streams were created, and one of the more successful of these were plant tours.

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ny in 1993. The company is one of the larger players in the hospitality ice industry, worldwide. More than 70% of products end up in markets outside Canada.

Iceculture has a 52,000 sq ft plant equipped with a 3000 sq ft studio and a 4000 sq ft freezer for storing up to 7000 ice blocks. Since 2008, the company has built a permanent staff of 38. Nine Below Zero, the first, permanent family attraction featuring ice sculptures in the world, was shelved temporarily in 2008, but plans are slowly moving forward once again. Iceculture has sent ice or ice equipment to 57 countries around the world and is currently installing an ice lounge in Calcutta, India. This follows an ice lounge in New Delhi two years ago. The company is also working with an Indian partner to set up a small ice block manufacturing plant in India.

Regular tours of the plant take place every week and busloads of visitors drop in at the Hensall facility for the 90 minute ice experience. They learn how crystal clear ice is manufactured and harvested, they watch CNC equipment cutting and shaping ice in the freezer studio, they see a ‘live’ ice carving demonstration and are treated to trip through an ice lounge, one of the concepts which Iceculture has become well-known. Tours are particularly popular with social clubs, business associations, school groups, car clubs, corporations, and not surprisingly, bus tour group specializing in mystery tours – who would ever guess they would be ending up in an ice house?

The tour wraps up with a slide presentation which features many of the interesting projects the company has undertaken in North America and overseas. And many have an amusing or challenging situation attached to them. Icefax – Iceculture has been in Hensall for 34 years. It started as a hobby and officially became a compa-

Inquiries can be directed to the Huron Manufacturing Association, 57 Napier St., Goderich ON N7A 1W2. Phone 519-524-8394 ext 3/ Fax 519-524-5677

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Digisplint—A Stylish Way to Alleviate Pain Reprinted with permission from The London Free Press

Across Canada and around the world there are thousands of people living free of pain because of the work of a gold/silver-smith operating from a modest shop on the main drag in Exeter. Very few of those people know Derek Bakelaar personally, but they certainly know what he does, and they are thankful for his talent and creativity each and every day of their lives.

Bakelaar makes finger and hand splints that alleviate the chronic pain of arthritis and other ailments, prevent or correct deformities, promote healing and often make hand surgery unnecessary. When surgery is required, his splints provide post-surgical stabilization. Splints have been around for as long as there have been hand surgeons and specialists. What sets Bakelaar’s work apart from traditional plastic splints is the design and material. He crafts his splints from silver and makes them look more like jewelry than medical devices.

As a result, they last longer. More importantly, people don’t mind wearing them. They aren’t bulky or obvious. They are, in fact, rather cool, so people wear them all day and get relief from pain around the clock.

“I get to be a hero every day,” says Bakelaar, sitting at his workshop, grinding the rough edges off a typical silver splint. “I love what I do because I know I’m helping people all over. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

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and wrist splint that did a great job of holding his finger in place but made it impossible to use any of his other fingers or hand.

Unable to work, he found a therapist who crafted a less cumbersome plastic splint that freed up his working fingers. He could work, but it was slow going. During one of many therapy sessions that followed at London’s Hand and Upper Limb Clinic, his therapist discovered he was a goldsmith and asked if he could make a special splint for a patient of his.

“I said sure,” Bakelaar recalls, “and the rest is history.”

Today, he makes splints of all shapes and sizes for patients around the world. Most are ordered by their therapist, but Bakelaar can help people directly and is more than happy to do so. “I usually hear from therapists and specialists, but often someone will show me a traditional splint and ask if I can make something better. I love seeing their reaction when I show them how much more attractive and functional the finished product is.”

Many people have health coverage to pay for splints, and Bakelaar can help them figure out what coverage they have.

Had he not injured his own finger 17 years ago, he never would have started making splints. Thousands of people feel blessed because he did.

He knows exactly how liberating his splints can be: After sustaining a serious hand injury, and experiencing the limitations of traditional splints, he created his company, Digisplint, 15 years ago.

In the fall of 1995, Bakelaar was playing volleyball and went to retrieve an errant ball from the bleachers. On the way down, he caught his ring finger and broke it very badly. Not only was the bone broken but there was significant tendon damage. A busy jeweler, he had Christmas orders piled up. Following surgery, he was fitted with a plastic arm

Inquiries can be directed to the Huron Manufacturing Association, 57 Napier St., Goderich ON N7A 1W2. Phone 519-524-8394 ext 3/ Fax 519-524-5677

Huron Manufacturin


New Channels to Market – New Opportunities – A New Way of Work.

To paraphrase Albert Einstein; ‘To keep doing the same thing the same way and expect a different result is the definition of insanity.’

Over the past 30 + years, Luke Janmaat founder of Progressive Turf Equipment has developed a market leading position with the design and manufacturing of wide area finishing mowers. Targeted mainly towards the golf and turf grass production sectors, Progressive mowers can be found around the world maintaining championship golf courses, local parks and even the grounds of Windsor Castle.

With mowers ranging from 10 feet cutting width up to 36 feet, Progressive mowers enjoy a market leading share in the Turfgrass / sod production industry. To service these sectors, Progressive established national dealer coverage and also sells to and supports customers direct from their Seaforth facility. Truly an enviable position for many companies. The housing market crash reduced the demand for sod. This forced many producers to convert sod fields to row crops and the demand for the big Progressive mowers faded. As the financial crisis grew deeper in the US, golf courses saw a huge reduction in the number of rounds being played so many courses simply closed – putting a glut of cheap used equipment on the market. As a result, Progressive saw a reduction in orders of new mowers as dealers were tightening their own belts as they were faced with shrinking credit lines and lower market demand.

Progressive realised they must diversify – but not stray too far from the mowers Progressive is known for. Two products emerged that fit the requirement perfectly.

First: the remote controlled Slope-Pro™ mower. Weighing almost 2700 lb and featuring a 52” wide cut, this mower is capable of mowing grass and light brush on slopes up to 50 degrees! The best feature

is that it moves the operator away from the mower, improving safety and increasing the locations that can now be safely mowed.

Second: A finish mower for a Municipal sidewalk tractor. These tractors were evolving from mainly carrying snow blowers, plows and brooms as their customers were demanding increased utilization from the vehicle investment. Although the various manufacturers of sidewalk tractors had developed their own mowers, Progressive saw this as an opportunity to leverage our expertise in design and manufacturing capability and develop a superior finishing mower offering, in 10’ and 14’ cutting widths. Since neither of these products would be used on a golf course or a sod farm, new channels to market were needed. Given the cost and the time associated with developing new distribution, it was deemed a better course of action was to partner with established third parties who had their own professional dealer networks. Tiger Corporation of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a large reputable company with leading share in road side vegetation management was first. Tiger has a dealer network spanning all of North America

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that is focused on Governmental sales – a perfect fit for the SlopePro. Trackless Vehicles of Courtland, Ontario was an ideal distributor for the municipal vehicle finish mower. The Progressive mower augments their attachment selection and gives their dealers another sales tool.

The two OEM agreements give Progressive an opportunity to build products for segments of the market that would have been difficult to access and without the cost and time of developing and maintaining those a new channels. With the a strengthening of the golf and turf grass industries increasing the demand for our ‘traditional’ products, Progressive also realizes that investment in our processes, equipment and capability is crucial to our long term success. Future articles will cover our activities to enhance our design capabilities and production efficiencies.

Quick News

Correction Notice

The HMA would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge an error. The E-mail address for RPM Promotions was incorrectly listed in the 2012 Manufacturing Directory. The correct address for RPM Promotions is

Total Energy Set to Launch New Product

Marlene Schotchmer, president of Total Energy has told the HMA that she will be launching a new and improved product before the end of this year. Said Scotchmer, “It is very exciting and I am looking forward to a greater share of the market place. As always it will be of quality and truly Canadian made.”

Artech Offers New Range of Services

Artech now offers engraving and routing services in order to give their customers a local resource for these needs. Artech is striving to offer the widest range of services possible. “I will continue on expanding Artech’s horizons, we will never stop growing. We always do our best to meet the demands of every customer,” said Phil Duncan, President of Artech Signs & Graphics.

Progressive’s goal is to be centred in Seaforth for a long time to come. Under Luke’s leadership, Progressive is looking at ways they can leverage the foundation and reputation that has been established and expand into new specialty grass cutting segments and these two OEM agreements are key steps in the process.

Could you expand your product offering or utilize new channels to reach new customers? We challenge everyone within the HMA to take a critical look at their own business and see what could be done differently and where ‘hidden’ opportunities exist. The HMA would like to tell your story in a future edition of Manufacts.

I am sure that Albert Einstein would approve.

anufacturing Association. Visit

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Local Business Leader Recognized for Past Success and Future Growth Plan

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has developed a sound succession plan for a company that is recognized worldwide as a key player in the hospitality ice industry.

“Sam has demonstrated leadership in our community through his mentorship role with the Huron Manufacturing Association”, said Peter White, President and CEO of the London Economic Development Corporation. “The new accounting, management and strategy skills he will learn through the CMA curriculum will serve to make him a stronger leader and mentor for our region”.

Sam Bayley receives 2012 Community Ambassador Award. Pictured L to R Deborah Clarke, Sam Bayley, Robert Collins, Peter White.

Local business leader Sam Bayley has been awarded the 2012 CMA Community Ambassador Award. The $5000 award, a joint initiative of the Certified Management Accountants of Ontario and the London Economic Development Corporation, helps a local individual advance their career in business and contribute to the future success of the region. Sam’s award will assist him in his pursuit of the Certified Management Accountant designation. He will also participate in several community events.

“In today’s competitive marketplace, successful careers require ongoing training and skills development. I am honoured to receive the CMA Community Ambassador Award and am proud to be pursuing my CMA designation in order to stay ahead of the curve”, said Sam.

“I am delighted that Sam is creating new possibilities for his career through the CMA designation”, said Deborah Clarke, Regional Director of Marketing for CMA Ontario. “Sam is an excellent example of a creative and innovative executive who wants to drive organizational value and results through a CMA designation”. In his role of Vice President of Operations for Iceculture Inc., Sam helps lead an established and creative global exporter in the London region. Together with the Iceculture leadership team, Sam

Health & Safety Announcements from Workplace Safety & Prevention Services

Join Workplace Safety & Prevention Services for the Networking & Knowledge Exchange session on Wednesday, November 28th from 8:30 am - 10:30 am at the Goderich Town Hall. The facilitated discussion topic will be Indoor Air Quality, featuring Martin Albinger, CIH, ROH, Occupational Hygienist, Workplace Safety & Prevention Services. These meetings are free and are engaging to attend and offer great opportunities to gain specific topic knowledge as well as networking with other local businesses. To Register Call 1-877-494-9777, option #5 or Fax 905-614-1414 or e-mail (Function #169899).

The Ministry of labour has produced two recent documents to help employers with supervisor competency and worker health and safety awareness packages. Each contains documents for the employer role and specific health and safety knowledge targeted for Supervisors and Workers to help them better understand their respective roles and responsibilities. These can downloaded from the MoL website Another change from the MoL is the new workplace poster which became mandatory to have posted effective October 1, 2012. These can be obtained at Service Ontario or you can go to the MoL website and download in pdf and print off in colour. You can find more information on Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS) and their services through

Inquiries can be directed to the Huron Manufacturing Association, 57 Napier St., Goderich ON N7A 1W2. Phone 519-524-8394 ext 3/ Fax 519-524-5677

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Appreciating the 3 Major Strengths of Your Business

What two words will improve your business on any level? No, it's not “more money”. It's “Thank you”.

In my opinion, these are the three major strengths of any business.

1. Your employees. In most cases, they are how your customer perceives your company. You could have the greatest product in the world, but it is your employees that make the ship run smoothly. It may be their “job”, but if your business is successful, chances are they are working damn hard for you. 2. Your customers. Let's face it, if they don't buy from you, then you don't have a business to run or work for. There's a lot of other places they could buy from, but they buy from you. Nice of them, isn't it? 3. Your volunteers. Many businesses and organizations rely on the help of people who aren't “on the payroll”. From the little things that need to get done to handling tasks that don't seem to be in anyone's job description, or even helping with large projects or events. Volunteers are priceless. “There are two things people want more than sex and money – recognition and praise.” -- Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics.

You may have your own personal opinion about this statement, but she seems to have done pretty well for herself, so I would say she knows what she's talking about. People like and need to be appreciated. For their work. For their loyalty.

And guess what? It doesn't take much to say “Thank You” and show them you really do appreciate them helping you with your business. If you have great employees working for you, don't lose them to a competitor because they don't feel appreciated. Same thing for customers. Have you ever walked away from a place of business because you didn't feel you were getting treated very well, or you felt

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they didn't value your business? Likely.

And if a volunteer knows how much you appreciate their time and effort, chances are they will help you again. Customers, employees and volunteers are like teeth. Ignore them long enough, and they'll go away. And once they're gone they're not easy to replace.

Traditionally, most businesses thank their customers and employees during the upcoming holiday season, where they can show appreciation during the annual Christmas party. Other businesses have appreciation programs in place that run throughout the year and reward based on performance. So please... • • •

Thank your employees. Thank your customers. Thank the people who help you.

This is not an expense, this is an investment in your company. An appreciation gift costs much less than replacing a lost employee, or trying to make up for a lost customer or volunteer. Many people aren't sure how to say “thank you”. It could be as simple as a hand written card. It could be in the form of a gift certificate or gift. Perhaps how much you spend will depend on how much they are worth to you. The best advice I have is to put yourself in their shoes – if you received this, how would it make you feel? Some things to think about: How have you been appreciated at work? What's the most memorable “Thank You” you've ever received? Ron Plasschaert is the owner of RPM Promotions, a promotional marketing company that focuses on the proper use and implementation of branded merchandise to help build your brand, increase sales and encourage repeat business. He may be reached at (877) 606-6004 or by email

Do your employees, customers and volunteers feel appreciated?

Inquiries can be directed to the Huron Manufacturing Association, 57 Napier St., Goderich ON N7A 1W2. Phone 519-524-8394 ext 3/ Fax 519-524-5677

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October, 2012

The first 50 Full Members & Associate Members of the HMA to register to attend the awards will receive 2 Free registrations thanks to the generous sponsors listed below. A $120 value!

November 15, 2012 My United Community Hall Central Huron Community Complex 239 Bill Fleming Drive, Clinton 4:30—5:30 5:30—6:00 6:00—7:00 7:00—7:30 7:30—9:30 Tickets $60 Trade Show

To book your free registrations E-mail today! Registration Deadline: October 31st. Act now. This event is expected to sell out.

Mini Trade Show Opening Announcements Buffet Style Dinner Julian Bayley Awards

$60 (includes one dinner ticket)

Key Note Address By Julian Bayley

The Lighter Side of Exporting: They do things differently over there. Iceculture founder Julian Bayley shares amusing tales about the ways the business can get lost in translation when dealing with overseas clients.

Offering advice for Huron manufacturers, Julian illustrates the ingenuity of staff to overcome language and cultural barriers.

Fax Back Registration Form (519) 524-5677

Your Name: ________________________ Company Name: ____________________ Number of Tickets: __________________ I wish to donate a door prize.

I wish to purchase a trade show booth.

Business casual dress. Women invited to wear red to raise awareness for the United Way. Men encouraged to grow moustaches for “Movember” men’s health awareness.

October 2012 Manufacts Newsletter  
October 2012 Manufacts Newsletter  

Newsletter for the manufacturers of Huron County