WINDSOR, Ont. -- Engaging its associates at three manufacturing plants in Alliston, Ont. and drawing in expertise and advice from its supply chain partners are two of the ways Honda Canada is seeking to reduce inefficiencies and remain competitive in a global marketplace, a senior executive says.
Tom Lake, Honda Canada’s executive vice-president, told delegates at the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association annual conference here that supplier engagement is critical to the company’s future in Canada.
Lake said that given the volume and velocity of change that is facing the auto industry, companies have two choices: “Manage the changes or allow the changes to manage us.”
“Open and honest communication with our suppliers is not only the right thing to do, but it is a great business strategy as we move forward,” said Lake. “By telling our suppliers what we are trying to achieve, they are more likely to come up with solutions which help not only our business but theirs as well.”
Lake added that each of Honda’s employees has expertise in certain areas and involving them in decisions designed to create efficiencies and save money and time is crucial.
Honda, along with the rest of the auto industry, is facing a talent scarcity challenge, and is reaching out to students and the community at large to attract employees as part of its growth strategy.
“We are constantly inviting students to tour our facility so that they can see it’s a highly technological environment and not the dirty, dingy plant they might well have imagined,” said Lake. “We have a partnership with Georgian College (in Barrie) to help them produce the types of people with highly-evolved technical skills that we need in our industry.”
Honda earlier this month announced a $1.8-million donation to Georgian College as part of a multi-faceted strategy designed to benefit students, faculty and the industry.
The automaker recently introduced a new paint system and added gas generators in Alliston, both of which are designed to cut costs, said Lake. Simple strategies such as shutting off lights in areas where nobody is working also save energy, eliminates waste and results in reduced costs.
Honda, which is celebrating 50 years in Canada this year, operates three plants in Ontario with 4,200 employees as well as a sales and distribution centre in Markham.
The plants represent a $4.7 billion investment with an annual capacity of 400,000 vehicles.