Get to know Hussam Malek

With Canadian manufacturing facing increased operational complexities and demanding business challenges, industry leaders like Hussam Malek are providing the tools and insight to support them now and simplify the future. As a leader of MNP’s manufacturing and distribution niche, Hussam is focused on supporting diverse clients and sharing his expertise nationally.

Get to know Hussam Malek

How did you become a leader in manufacturing and distribution?

As a young professional, I started my career on the plant floor of sophisticated automotive companies. I soon transitioned from plant supervisor to project engineer, and then quickly moved on to leading teams of people in both operations and automation. My experiences have taken me across Canada and the globe to see and support world-class manufacturing facilities. As I saw them, I knew I wanted to bring my technical skills and business knowledge to work with the mid-sized enterprises who provide the foundation for our economy in Canada. After a decade of industry experience, consulting for manufacturing and distributions companies became the natural next step.

How has your experience been building the Manufacturing Niche at MNP?

I see the manufacturing industry as a vital piece to the lives and success of people. I’m incredibly passionate about its growth and success, so I see all of our time, energy, and money spent in this space as meaningful and important work. When we started formally building the niche, everyone I talked to was excited about the direction we were headed and valued our enthusiasm for the future. The niche has grown and strengthened very quickly. We selected passionate people with hands-on manufacturing experience at all levels, which has been tremendously successful for us – we’re very proud that we have accomplished niche leaders representing different regions in Canada.

We’re in a unique position at MNP; we directly cater to 91 percent of small to mid-sized manufacturing companies in the country — they form the backbone of our economy. Part of our work with the niche is providing the expertise they’re seeking to become competitive in Canada and globally. In the next couple of years, we’re forecasting continued significant growth.

When clients come to you for help, what concerns do they have?

Our clients have various needs and business concerns. Many of them have grown rapidly and are looking for support to scale and continue their upward success; some are facing critical financial hardships and need hands-on support to revive their business. Oftentimes we also work with companies who are facing increasing material and resourcing costs and are looking for solutions to stimulate their growth and smooth their spending.

Manufacturing, in particular, has seen a drastic change in the last couple of years. Shortages are driving the cost of materials, labour expenses are experiencing immense upward pressure, and supply chains are encountering continuous disruptions. All of these factors go hand in hand, which has caused a lot of stress on the industry.

In your experience, what makes a manufacturing company resilient to those problems?

From a manufacturing perspective, a resilient company has a three-key foundation. The first, and most important aspect of resilience is having decisive and decentralized leadership to guide the business and execute longer-term strategies. The second key is facilitating execution with a robust management operating system, where processes, systems, and behaviours work in tandem to create a standardized and efficient structure for the business. Finally, a resilient manufacturer must have a thorough financial plan and strategy for the next three to five years ahead. Overly leveraged businesses, especially those that rely on Just-in-Time (JIT) methodologies, can struggle to maintain their model, face significant challenges meeting demands, and often lack the flexibility to remain agile in the industry. A comprehensive financial strategy is necessary to combat these issues.

What are the trends you are noticing that manufacturers should be aware of?

There are a few trends here, the first regarding inventory. In North America, we’ve been fixated on implementing Just-in-Time (JIT) methodologies for over two decades, but in the past couple of years, it hasn’t been working in our favour. Businesses need to be able to anticipate and forecast their future demands and build optimal inventory into their processes to meet the current industry and supply chain challenges.

We’re also really seeing the impacts of automation in manufacturing; so much so that we’ve identified a fourth industrial revolution as we continue to digitize, work with complex data, and incorporate machine learning – Industry 4.0. A significant number of manufacturers are investing in digital systems, like ERPs, and are looking to automate as much as possible. Investing in these technologies can address issues with labour resources and costs and increase the level of competition in the global markets.

Lastly, M&A activity has grown considerably in the last couple of years. Stronger companies are using M&A as a viable opportunity to expand and family-owned operations are considering their options for succession. By focusing on enhancing enterprise value now, manufacturers can ensure their businesses are independent, sustainable, and can be maximized for selling or integrating.

What advice would you give to manufacturers heading into 2022?

The visibility of your business is incredibly powerful. To drastically reduce operational and financial risks, I would advise manufacturers to ensure their supply chain is very deeply understood, especially with unforeseeable supply chain issues globally. I would also advise them to think proactively about the future labour economy. We’re seeing the gig economy begin to impact manufacturing, where individuals are contracted for work rather than becoming fully integrated employees. This will pose a challenge for manufacturers — a strong foundation in process and systems will be necessary to support these trends and to leverage them for success.

If you’re in the manufacturing sector and want to know how MNP can help, contact Hussam Malek P.Eng., PMP, MBA, at [email protected] or 416.515.3866.