During the past eight months I have heard this year described in a vast number of ways. I won’t list them, but a lot of them were fearful, most of them were cautious, many of them colourful and almost all of them decidedly negative.
But one sentiment has been conspicuous in its absence: hope.
Sure, it’s difficult to be hopeful in this current business environment. Manufacturing is a sector that prizes certainty and planning above all else, and if there was one thing 2020 provided in spades, it was uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic that shocked us in the second quarter of 2020 still dominates the news, hampers business conditions and creates fear among businesses and their employees alike. These are not conditions that encourage hopefulness.
But amid all the scrambling, fear and general chaos we witnessed this year, I can think of another, more positive way to describe Canada’s manufactruing sector this year—resilience.
That’s right folks, in spending the year speaking with manufacturers and the companies that do business with them, resilience is a common thread that weaved its way through the industry, regardless of company size or industrial market segment.
And it’s a testament to the work and mindset that took hold in these companies long before the COVID crisis set in.
In order for these manufacturers to be resilient in the face of what we experienced this year, it means over the last few years they have been heeding the advice of experts on how they shape and run their businesses. These companies have invested in the advanced technology that creates flexibility and scalability, allowing them to quickly shift production to new products or new customers. They have enacted some of the management and operational best practices long touted to improve productivity and reduce costs, which also reduce vulnerability to outside forces. Needless to say, if your company has survived through this massive disruption, it was likely because the groundwork and dedication to business improvement in previous years laid the foundation for survival.
Obviously, no one starts a manufacturing company solely for survival. But for 2021, I predict that survival will be replaced by revival and renewal. Canada’s job shops—buoyed by the measures taken to survive the pandemic—will emerge from our current state of disruption even stronger and more resilient then they were only a year ago, and we at Shop Metalworking Technology Magazine will be here to tell those stories and share the strategies, tactics and techniques that made it all possible.
If you and your company have a story to share, I would very much like to hear from you. Send me us email and tell me about how your company managed its way through 2020, and how it plans to approach 2021. SMT