Michael Ouellette, editorClick image to enlargeby Michael Ouellette, editor

From coast to coast, Canada’s manufacturing sector is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In 2019—the most recent data available from Statistics Canada—SMEs (businesses with 1-499 workers) employed a lopsided 82.7 per cent of manufacturing workers and made up just under half of the sector’s total contribution to national GDP. 

We at SHOP Metalworking Technology know a thing or two about running a small business, because that’s who we are, just like most of you. SHOP is not a division of a larger corporation, nor is it owned by a huge U.S. trade association. SHOP is owned by Mary and Larry, has less than 10 employees and experiences many of the same trials, tribulations and risks as a small manufacturer. 

When we make investments into our magazine or website, it's very similar to when a small manufacturer installs a new machine or welding cell. The goal is to improve productivity, efficiency and quality while adding new capabilities for our customers—all with a reasonable ROI. 

Sound familiar? 

SME owners take on huge personal risk any time they invest in a new machine or process. Even taking on a new customer creates a great deal of risk. A large manufacturer by nature can better absorb this risk, but when something goes sour for an SME, the entire company could be in jeopardy. 

This is why investment decisions require significant due diligence, not just in the technology but the supplier as well. There are often many technology options that would get the job done, so it’s key to examine compatibility with current systems as well as the expertise and level of service from the supplier. Any small business is only as strong as its partners. 

Canadian manufacturing SMEs don’t just serve their regional markets—they export with the best of them. Smaller manufacturers contribute almost 40 per cent of the total value of manufacturing exports. Clearly, they aren’t simply “mom-and-pop” shops, but world-class businesses able to compete for global contracts against the best manufacturers, many of which are bolstered by highly advantageous domestic industrial policies. 

It takes an unending amount of dedication, investment, expertise and tenacity required to accomplish this feat. That’s why our goal at SHOP is to use our understanding of running a small business to give you the tailored information you need to compete, grow your company and keep proving to the world that the Made-in-Canada brand is the top choice. Our digital investments are just another step towards this goal. Keep an eye out for them and let us know what you think. SMT

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