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October 2, 2015 9:08 AM

Manufacturing leaders share lessons learned

Nearly 300 representatives from manufacturing firms, industry associations, government and post-secondary institutions attended a networking and learning event at Conestoga’s Cambridge campus on September 30.

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Nearly 300 guests attended PLANTS 2015 at the Cambridge campus to network, share information and view student projects on Sept. 30, 2015.

PLANTS 2015: Growth for Tomorrow’s Needs was hosted by Sustento Collaborative Hub, in collaboration with Conestoga’s School of Engineering, IT, Trades & Apprenticeship and the Craig Richardson Institute of Food Processing Technology.

Attendees had the opportunity to visit displays, view student projects, tour the facilities and listen to a panel of speakers share lessons learned from investing in research, development and global market expansion.

During his presentation, Darren Stewart, a 1996 Conestoga graduate of Business Administration - Materials Management and assistant general manager at Karmax-Magna, shared insights on the importance of skilled trades in the manufacturing sector. He noted that Magna expects high attrition rates over the next 10 to 15 years which will increase demand for electricians, millwrights and welding techs.

He also highlighted the role of supply chain management in today’s manufacturing sector stating that planning, logistics and operations people are needed. “Strong supply chain management allows everything on the manufacturing side to fall in to place,” he said. “It’s going to drive profitability and increase growth and sales.”

As part of his comments on global markets, Stewart said Magna has hired 87 Conestoga graduates since 1989. Initially employed as summer students or co-op placements, they now have roles as managers, supervisors and buyers. Supply chain grads have supported Magna International by moving on to positions in Germany, Kentucky and St. Thomas.

Other speakers at the event included David Perston, vice president of manufacturing at Thalmic Labs; Jay Davis, chief operating officer at Hammond Power Solutions and Toine Stolze, director of sales and custom products at Dare Foods.

More information on Sustento Collaborative Hub is available on its website

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