Elasto Proxy Employees Become Lean, Mean, Learning Machines

January 21, 2013 Leave a comment

CSMO

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Lean manufacturing is a set of production practices that seeks to eliminate waste and deliver quality products on-time, at the lowest production costs, and according to customer needs. According to lean thinking, waste refers to any activity that does not add value. Examples include overproduction, idle time, unnecessary movement, product defects, and failing to utilize people to their fullest abilities. By minimizing waste and maximizing customer value, any organization can improve its bottom line.

Why Learn About Lean?

As a custom fabricator of high-value, low-volume rubber and plastic components, Elasto Proxy is eager to learn all it can about lean. We’re not lean experts, of course, but we’re investing our time and talents to educate our employees about lean thinking. This year, two of our team leaders will learn about lean manufacturing to boost Elasto Proxy’s efficiency and strengthen our business model. What Alain Leblanc and Elaine Bergeron gain from CSMO Caoutchouc will help both our company and our customers.

How CSMO Caoutchouc Helps

Here in Quebéc, where Elasto Proxy is headquartered, CSMO Caoutchouc is dedicated to developing a world-class workforce in the province’s rubber industry. Like other Elasto Proxy employees, Alain and Elaine have taken CSMO Caoutchouc coursework before. “General Training on the Processing” of rubber provides an excellent introduction to our industry, and features modules such as vulcanization, injection molding, and extrusion methods. For companies that need advanced training, CSMO Caoutchouc also provides in-depth and specialized instruction.

Supervisor Training in Lean Manufacturing

The course that Alain and Elaine will now take, “Supervisor Training in Lean Manufacturing,” spans eight sessions and ends in June. Each session lasts for eight hours, and provides students with an opportunity to interact with instructors who are informative, engaging, and ready to provide real-world examples of lean manufacturing. Although 6 of the 8 sessions will be held in hotel conference rooms, there are two on-site visits. Elasto Proxy will host one of these sessions, and we look forward to this opportunity.   

Molding  Lean Managers  

Elaine has never learned about lean before, and Alain studied it briefly while at CEGEP, our system of post-secondary education in Quebec. Thanks to CSMO Caoutchouc, however, both will participate in informative, interactive sessions that include leadership training, continuous improvement, and lean strategies for management. Through coaching, role-playing, and problem solving, Elaine and Alain will learn about more than just machine-based efficiency.

How to Talk Lean

Lean manufacturing involves communication, both between first-level supervisors and company managers, and between team leaders and their employees. To eliminate waste and maximize customer value, all members of an organization must be willing to suggest improvements – and managers must be willing to listen. Internal communication can be easy to overlook, but is vitally important. 

For over 20 years, Elasto Proxy has promised to fully understand the needs of our partners and deliver on them. As Elaine and Alan now learn about lean manufacturing, we look forward to listening to their ideas so that Elasto Proxy can build a better company and strengthen its commitment to customers.

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Elasto Proxy Supports Centraide Laurentides

January 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Centraide

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Centraide Laurentides is a non-profit organization that supports a network of community assistance groups throughout the Laurentians, the region north of Montréal that Elasto Proxy calls home. Here at our headquarters in Boisbriand, Quebéc, we’re more than just a Canadian company or a global business with offices in North America and China. Elasto Proxy is a member of a local community, and we support Centraide Laurentides in its efforts to help our neighbors who are in need.

Centraide Laurentides collects donations from businesses and individuals in and around Boisbriand. The organization’s focus is local but diverse. In distributing funds to a variety of charitable groups, Centraide supports food banks, provides tuition assistance, buys eyeglasses, and even pays for children’s visits to museum. A good steward, they also ensure that groups use donations wisely. For example, each group must be recertified annually and prove that it’s helping more people than the year before.

As Christiane Quessy, our area representative explains, Centraide Laurentides is part of the United Way, but independent. There are 18 Centraide branches in Quebéc, but all of the money that we donate is used to help our local community. That’s why for every dollar our employees give, Elasto Proxy adds 2.5 dollars more. Centraide Laurentides has many donors, of course, and some of its biggest supporters are people who received assistance when they were in need. They are a testament to its success.

As a small, family-run business that’s grown from a “Mom and Pop Shop” into growing global player in the rubber and plastics industry, we’re also committed to our community. Our name, a marriage of “elastomer” and “proxy” defines Elasto Proxy’s commitment to fully understanding the needs of our partners and delivering on them. As a supporter of Centraide Laurentides, we’re proud to play a part in meeting the needs of our neighbors, too.

We invite you to donate to your local charity, or to help us in supporting Centraide Laurentides. Look for them on the Web, or find them on Facebook. Thank you.

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Elasto Proxy Supports Moisson Laurentides

January 7, 2013 Leave a comment

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Moisson Laurentides

Moisson Laurentides is a community service and charitable organization that collects and distributes food to people in need. Headquartered in Blainville, Quebec, Canada, the Laurentian Foodbank is the hub of a social services network that provides more than just food assistance. As the Services page on its website explains, “Feeding people is a precarious thing. Feeding their esteem and hope is another”.

As part of its mission, Moisson Laurentides collects food donations in 116 municipalities and distributes supplies to nearly 90  local organizations. In turn, these local groups help to feed families in their own communities. Each month, the Laurentian Foodbank aids 50,000 people, of whom 40% are children. The organization’s permanent employees embrace this task, as do hundreds of dedicated volunteers.

Food donors also play an important role, especially during the holiday season. Each year, the Great Food Drive of December encourages both businesses and individuals to participate. As the co-founders and co-owners of a Québec-based company, my wife Donna and I are pleased to support the good work of Moisson Laurentides. In this endeavor, we are joined by the entire Elasto Proxy team.

During last month’s Family Day event at our office in Boisbriand, Elasto Proxy asked attendees to bring three non-perishable food items. The family and friends who joined us gave generously, donating boxes of pasta, canned goods, bottles of juice, soap, and even some toys. The donors were then entered into a drawing, and the winner received a coupon for groceries. Elasto Proxy’s food donation drive was a great success, and we were pleased to provide Moisson Laurentides with four big boxes of donations.

Elaine Bergeron, one of Elasto Proxy’s Team Leaders, helped organize this year’s food  drive and explained the food bank’s operation. First, incoming donations are separated by category. Next, various types of items are added to individual baskets, along with fresh vegetables and perishable items such as milk and yogurt. To ensure that all recipients receive equitable amounts, Moisson Laurentides also weighs these baskets before dispersing them to local organizations.

On behalf of Elasto Proxy, I’d like to thank all of our generous employees along with their families and friends for supporting Moisson Laurentides during the Great Food Drive of December. In my next blog entry, I will describe how our team will support one of the Laurentian Foodbank’s partners, Centraide Laurentides, throughout 2013. 

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Brazil is Open for Business

December 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Recently, my wife Donna and I visited Brazil as part of a trade mission from Elastomer Valley, a group of Québec-based businesses who have joined forces to pursue economic development opportunities.  As the co-founders and co-owners of a growing manufacturing company with offices in Canada, the United States, and China, we enjoyed our first trip to Latin America.

Brazil is a vast and vibrant country with abundant natural resources and great human talent. It also boasts the world’s sixth largest economy and is Canada’s ninth largest trading partner. For Elasto Proxy, accessing the Brazilian market is a key part of our plan to increase exports of our custom-fabricated rubber and plastic components.

As one of just six Elastomer Valley companies that traveled to Brazil, Elasto Proxy benefited from business meetings scheduled by the Québec Government Office in São Paulo. Since March 2008, Québec’s office in Brazil’s largest city has been helping businesses like ours to form relationships with potential partners. Group events included presentations from international lawyers and customs brokers.

By focusing on vehicle parts and plastics, the Elastomer Valley trade mission provided Elasto Proxy with valuable opportunities to promote our application knowledge and experience in these areas. Our meetings with potential partners who produce tractors, trucks, buses, defense vehicles, and mobile vehicles were especially important, as these are industries we have served for many years.

All of the Brazilian businesses that we met with appreciated the quality of our work and how Elasto Proxy strengthens supply chains by manufacturing small quantities of custom rubber and plastic parts. Since many of these Brazilian companies are subsidiaries of North American and European entities, they already have vendors for high-volume production runs. Elasto Proxy’s ability to produce high-value, low-volume seals and gaskets captured their attention, however, and helped lay a foundation for the future.

Sealing solutions for specialty mobile vehicles, tractor and bus manufacturers, and defense applications weren’t all that we discussed, however. Doing business in Brazil is a social affair, with customs and routines that are more similar to those in Europe than in China. Personal connections develop alongside business relationships in Brazil, and we enjoyed getting to know our potential partners.

Brazil is open for business, as Elasto Proxy saw firsthand during the first of two planned trips there. We look forward to returning to São Paulo, as part of the SME Passport program in 2013, and encourage you to ask us questions about our trip by commenting on this blog entry. Brazil’s economy is booming, and Elasto Proxy is eager to share what we’ve learned.

 

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Hard as a Hockey Puck, Soft as NHL Ticket Sales

December 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Clyde Sharpe
President of International Sales

Hockey and rubber have similar languages.  In ice hockey, checking is a defense technique for gaining possession of the puck or disrupting your opponent’s play. With rubber components, checking refers to short, shallow surface cracks caused by damaging action.  If you’ve ever watched a hard-fought hockey game, especially during the NHL playoffs, you’ll appreciate the similarities between these two types of “damaging action”. But even if you’re not a hockey fan, you’ve probably heard about the NHL Lockout. Sadly, there may not be a quest for the Stanley Cup this season.

Here at Elasto Proxy’s headquarters in Boisbriand, Quebec, Canada, we’re still enjoying our national winter sport. Sure, there’s less chatter about who’s better – John Rye’s Toronto Maple Leafs, my Calgary Flames, or the Montreal Canadiens that Megan Beaulieu and so many members of our production team love. But there are still CHL games to watch and ice hockey leagues in which plenty of people (myself included) participate. During the winter, I skate in two leagues and use my stature to screen goalies, make assists, and score on tip-ins. During the summer, I play in one ice hockey league and one ball hockey league. It’s great exercise, and nice to see your name on a scoreboard at any time of year.

The NHL enjoys competition, too, but the owners and players are locked in a game of high-stakes poker that could cost them more than ticket sales. Unlike soccer, where all you need is a ball, hockey requires expensive equipment like sticks, skates, pads, and helmets. So as the NHL players and owners raise the stakes and stop the season, the biggest loss may be future players. Without role models like Wayne Gretzky and Maurice Richard, kids may choose other sports – and less expensive ones at that. The NHL is less brutal than it used to be, but the NHL Lockout of 2012 could cause the sport pain for years to come.

As hockey players know, getting hit by a fast-moving puck doesn’t tickle. As Elasto Proxy explains in its Seal Selection Guide, solid rubber profiles are the hardest and most resistant to compression. But some softer elastomers are used in ice hockey, too. Visit a skating rink sometime and look for the rubber profiles between the glass in the boards. Part of their job is to provide vibration resistance. Rubber parts are used in hockey helmets, too. With our water jet cutting capabilities, Elasto Proxy has even custom-fabricated an EVA foam for helmet inserts.

So will there be an NHL season this year? I don’t think so. At this point, the negotiations are as hard as a hockey puck on a cold winter day. Sure, some give-and-take could help end the lockout, but I’ve worked at Elasto Proxy long enough to know that a solid profile doesn’t just turn into a sponge profile. Still, as long as I can play hockey, I know I’ll be all right.

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How to Talk to Engineers

December 3, 2012 Leave a comment

By Doug Sharpe, President of Elasto Proxy

Recently, Elasto Proxy joined CR4: The Engineer’s Place for News and Discussion, an on-line community where technical professionals ask questions, get answers, and interact with their peers. CR4 is primarily an engineering community, but also welcomes suppliers, product designers, and industrial buyers. The website consists of blogs and forums, and includes technology-related news stories from across the Web and around the world. Truly global in nature, CR4 is powered by GlobalSpec, Inc., a technology services company with a powerful search engine and robust database of engineering and industrial products.

When my wife Donna and I started Elasto Proxy in 1989, we could not have imagined that our small business could connect with so many technical professionals all in one place – and while on-line no less. Elasto Proxy attends conferences and tradeshows, of course, and Donna and I just returned from a trade mission to Brazil. Clyde Sharpe, Elasto Proxy’s President of International Sales, visited Europe twice this fall, once to Berlin, Germany for InnoTrans 2012 and then again to Italy and Belgium for meetings with suppliers. Megan Beaulieu, our Executive Support Specialist, also attends key business events, such as for the SME Passport Program here in Montreal.

Joining CR4 may not seem as exotic as traveling to other countries, but it’s an exciting part of our new content marketing strategy. Elasto Proxy’s involvement in GlobalSpec’s on-line engineering community also complements our participation in that company’s virtual events series, such as GlobalSpec’s recent Wind Energy Technology Tradeshow. Blogging for CR4 isn’t the same as staffing a tradeshow booth, of course, but our approach isn’t too different from what you’ll read here – or what you’ll learn if you contact our solutions providers. Elasto Proxy’s CR4 blog is about sealing solutions for a reason.

Engineers don’t want to be “sold” to, especially when they’re visiting a website that is their place for news and discussion.  Elasto Proxy understands that, respects it, and appreciates how CR4’s approach complements our own philosophy of analyzing all of your requirements and listening to all of your needs.  As a past president of the Industrial Sealing Distribution Association (ISD), I helped to advance the ISD’s mission of enhancing member success through information, education, and interaction. Today, as a part of the CR4 community, Elasto Proxy is blogging in that same collaborative spirit.

I hope you’ll read my first CR4 blog entry, Solving Industrial Sealing Challenges, and share your thoughts here or on CR4.  What sealing challenges would you like to learn more about? And is your own company ready to talk to engineers, too?

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Elasto Proxy Takes Trade Mission to Brazil

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Elasto Proxy is traveling to São Paulo, Brazil as part of a trade mission from Elastomer Valley, a group of Québec-based companies who have joined forces in pursuit of economic development opportunities. Doug and Donna Sharpe, the co-founders and co-owners of Elasto Proxy, will embark upon a six-day journey that includes both a group program and one-one-one meetings with Brazilian companies. For Elasto Proxy, the trade mission provides a chance to meet with a potential customer who specializes in agricultural equipment, construction equipment, and mass transit – industries that Elasto Proxy has served for many years.

Headquartered in Boisbriand, Québec, Elasto Proxy Inc. was founded in 1989 and has offices in Ontario, the United States, and China. “For Elasto Proxy,” blogs President of International Sales Clyde Sharpe, “meeting the needs of international markets is an important part of our long-term growth strategy”. According to the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, Québec exports to Brazil grew by over 75% between 2009 and 2010. As the year 2012 draws to a close, Brazil continues to figure prominently in the future of Canadian manufacturers like Elasto Proxy. In earning an SME Passport last summer, the Boisbriand-based custom-fabricator of rubber and plastic components chose Brazil as a focus of its international marketing efforts.

Elasto Proxy is just one of six Elastomer Valley companies who are traveling to Brazil on a trade mission that’s focused on vehicle parts and plastics. After arriving in South America, participants will learn about the cultural aspects of Brazil from the Québec Government Office in Sao Paulo, which is also scheduling business meetings. Group presentations from experts such as international lawyers and customs brokers will complement these individual engagements. Some Québec -based companies will meet with existing partners to deep their relationship, while others will meet potential Brazilian partners for the first time.

Elasto Proxy thanks Export Québec for arranging this important mission, and looks forward to returning to Brazil next spring as part of the SME Passport program.

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