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MNP presents: Q&A about CME’S Manufacturers' Executive Council (MEC) Program

18/01/2013


The Canadian manufacturing industry is dynamic and continually evolving to meet new operational, trade and regulatory changes.

Success in this sector depends on how well you manage the variety of issues that can arise. MNP is committed to providing the manufacturing industry with the insight needed to resolve these issues effectively and enhance the overall profitability of your business.

Recently, MNP spoke with Craig Williams, Canadian Manufacturers& Exporters (CME) National Program Liaison in B.C. to discuss the Manufacturers’ Executive Council (MEC) program. MEC is an exclusive group of non-competing business owners and senior executives who meet on a monthly basis to share ideas, learn from each other’s experiences and solve problems through peer group mentoring.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE MEC GROUPS?
These groups have a strong emphasis on peer mentoring, and helping CEOs help each other work on their business and not just in their business. Over time, these groups develop a high level of trust and build a strong support network for CEOs. The groups consist of members that do not compete with each other and allow CEOs to learn from other businesses in various industries.

WHO IS TYPICALLY REPRESENTED IN THESE GROUPS?
Our members include a broad range of typically high-level individuals with broad general management responsibility, including owners, CEOs, general managers and, in some cases, divisional managers of large corporations. Companies represented range in revenues from $5 million to $250 million.

HOW OFTEN AND WHERE DOES THE MEC MEET?
We meet monthly, for example, the second Thursday of every month. Networking is done over coffee and muffins, starting at 7:30 a.m. To respect everyone’s time, the meeting never extends past noon. We follow a revolving host schedule where we visit the offices of each member of a group. This typically includes a presentation and tour of their respective factories. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions on the host’s operations and initiatives during these visits.

WHO FACILITATES THESE MEETINGS?
Peter Jeffrey, Vice President for CME in B.C. and I, as well as three other individuals, act as facilitators. We only select facilitators that have backgrounds in manufacturing

HOW DO YOU ENSURE THAT PARTICIPANTS ARE ABLE TO LEARN FROM EACH OTHER? DO YOU MAKE USE OF SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS?
The groups are completely self-governing and decide themselves if they need, or want, to bring in any expert speakers. Typically, they will leverage off existing specialists that group members may deal with or, if necessary, the facilitators will help find such experts. CME has a very large and effective network across Canada that can address member issues.

HOW MANY OF THESE GROUPS ARE CURRENTLY RUNNING?
The CME is currently running 10 MEC groups in B.C., as well as another five groups, some with an operational focus and others with an export/trade focus (i.e. Export Executive Council). There are another 10 MECs across Canada.

DO YOU ENSURE THAT THERE ARE NO COMPETITORS IN A GROUP?
Yes, we do. It maintains the integrity of the group, letting them share freely. Some members do not want customers or suppliers in their group, so we accommodate that request as well.

WHAT DOES IT COST AND MUST THE POTENTIAL MEMBER OF A MEC GROUP BE AN EXISTING CME MEMBER?
The monthly fees are $125. If you consider the cost per hour, it is considerably cheaper than other options, which can be up to 10 times more expensive and lack a specific focus on manufacturing. All MEC members have to be members in good standing of CME.

WHO IS YOUR PREFERRED REPRESENTATIVE FROM A COMPANY – THE OWNERS OR SENIOR MANAGEMENT OR DOES IT NOT MATTER? IF A REPRESENTATIVE FROM A MEMBER COMPANY IS NOT ABLE TO ATTEND, CAN THEY ARRANGE FOR A REPLACEMENT?
We only allow one person per company to join and it is that one person that becomes a member of the MEC group, not the company itself. We do not allow replacements as this may affect the trust relationships we strive to develop. Most MEC group members have very busy schedules but we are able to maintain about 80 percent attendance.

HOW DO YOU ENSURE THAT MANUFACTURERS IN DIVERSE INDUSTRIES ARE ABLE TO LEVERAGE OFF OF EACH OTHER’S EXPERIENCE?
We are continually amazed by how our members, although in diverse manufacturing industries, deal with such similar issues. Recent examples are succession, productivity issues and the shortage of skills in the workplace. Because these members are not in competition with each other, the environment is much more conducive to helping each other.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT GROUP IS THE BEST FIT FOR A POTENTIAL MEMBER? IS IT BASED ON GEOGRAPHY OR INDUSTRY?
It really is a combination. We ensure there are no competitors in the same group and that new members join groups with similar interests, cultural fit and that keep travel to a minimum. We aim to have 12 members per group, to ensure a turn out of seven to nine at each meeting.

FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE PARTICIPANTS, WHAT VALUE DO THEY GAIN FROM THESE MEETINGS?
Our members have been quite vocal about the value. Where else are manufacturing CEOs able to pay only $125 per month for 40 hours of combined consulting value, access to trusted advisors who are peers in similar positions and situations, and information about issues from diverse industries? In addition, we can, and often do, access the considerable CME network across Canada and internationally.

WHAT ARE THE MOST CURRENT “HOT” TOPICS THAT YOUR GROUPS ARE DEALING WITH?
The recent issues that have risen to the top are:

  • Workplace skills shortages
  • Developing new products/Breaking into new markets
  • Productivity, as companies see increased orders
  • Global supply chain management
  • Building management teams
  • Integrating immigrants into the Canadian workplace to make use of their skills

WITH SO MUCH UNCERTAINTY ABOUT THE ECONOMY IN THE MARKETPLACE AND IN THE PRESS, HOW HAS MEMBERSHIP IN THESE GROUPS HELPED YOUR MEMBERS?
Members are able to talk to their peers in the manufacturing/exporting sectors that go beyond their own industries, learn best practices and tap into the network of MEC groups across the country. Furthermore, CME’s larger network of 100,000 companies which form the Canadian Coalition of Manufacturers is able to bring much value to the group.

HOW HAS MEMBERSHIP IN THESE GROUPS HELPED MEMBERS GROW THEIR BUSINESSES OR DEAL WITH PROBLEM SITUATIONS?
We have had a few initiatives with Export Development Canada, various provincial trade authorities and specific programs to assist our members in entering specific markets, such as seminars about doing business in Brazil. Leveraging our group experience has enabled us to bring expertise and depth to our members which is deeper than if they attempted to enter new markets on their own.

DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER GROUPS THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST TO MANUFACTURING CLIENTS OF MNP?
We have the following groups, all of which meet regularly:

  • The Manufacturing Human Resource Council is a group of senior HR managers from manufacturing companies. Recently, they have been dealing with issues including skills shortages, training programs, employment standards, WorkSafe BC issues, First Nations employment, integrating immigrants to Canada, and dealing with unions.
  • CME is currently considering a concept called Innovative Executive Councils, which consists of mostly senior representatives from manufacturers that are involved with product development, research and development, intellectual property management, as well as marketing and innovation activities to accelerate new product development.
  • Similarly, CME is about to launch a program with a focus on operations, modelled on MEC, but membership will be at the manufacturing/operational level.

IF SOMEONE IS INTERESTED IN JOINING OR HAS QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PROCESS, WHO CAN THEY CONTACT?
The main contact in B.C. is Peter Jeffrey, the Vice-President for CME-BC. He can be contacted at 604.713.7804 or [email protected] CME’s national website can be found at www.cme-mec.ca.


ABOUT CANADIAN MANUFACTURERS & EXPORTERS (CME)
CME is Canada’s largest trade and industry association which advocates for manufacturers and exporters. Their mandate is to:

  • Build a more competitive business environment
  • Provide critical and timely intelligence
  • Strengthen leadership through best practices and leveraging networks for business success

For more information about CME-BC, visit their website at bc.cme-mec.ca. For CME’s national website, visit cme-mec.ca.