Jonathon Azzopardi, President, Canadian Association of Mold Makers (CAMM)

Jonathon Azzopardi, President, Canadian Association of Mold Makers was recently in India with a delegation to explore business and investment opportunities in the country. CAMM and TAGMA signed an agreement to enhance business collaborations between the two countries. In conversation with Nishant Kashyap, he talks about the agreement, Canadian mould making industry and his views about Indian tooling industry.

Please take us through the activities of CAMM and how it aims to help the Canadian tooling industry?
Please take us through the activities of CAMM and how it aims to help the Canadian tooling industry? Canadian Association for Mold Makers (CAMM) is also part of Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association (APMA). CAMM has an agreement with APMA, whereby members of CAMM are also members of APMA and vice versa.

CAMM was established in 1981 (then called the Windsor Association of Moldmakers or WAMM) to provide a unified voice in representing the mould making industry on the national and international stage. As the industry grew and interest in membership increased we renamed ourselves to become Canadian Association of Moldmakers in 1992 and have since been joined by an array of global companies focused on mould making, designing, manufacturing, service and supply. Our main objective as an association is to promote the mould making  industry locally, nationally and internationally as well as provide representation on behalf of our industry to Federal and Provincial governments.

CAMM also aims to do all the things that its members lack time for. That is also one of the reasons why I am here in India today. We believe, Canadian mould makers have good prospects in the long run, so I am here laying the ground for the coming generation. When the next generation enters the industry, they would already have a relationship with India. Canadian mould makers will find it difficult to survive if they do not explore the global market. We have to think more global and build partnerships accordingly.
We have been looking for right partners for Canadians and we have already met associations from Mexico, Germany, Italy, UK, Portugal etc and now here in India. I believe, India could be our long term strategic partner, it’s a huge market and people are open here.

Could you please share something about the MoU you signed with TAGMA. How will it help both the countries?
I had the opportunity to see and learn about the Indian industry and I know Canadian industry very well. The MoU we signed is a bridge of sorts for both the countries to come together and learn from each-other. We have made several mistakes in Canada; I would like my Indian counterparts to learn from our experience. The idea behind this collaboration is to help our mould makers and Indian mould makers come together either physically or theoretically and learn from eachother and grow fast together.

According to you, what can Indians learn from their Canadian counterparts and vice versa? We made some mistakes and one of the biggest was not protecting our Intellectual Property (IP). We just gave it away. This is something we want our Indian friends to know and understand. I would urge Indian companies to protect their IP at any cost. Also, if we look at sales per employee in India Vs sales per employee in Canada, there is a huge gap. There is opportunity for Indian mould makers to improve and enhance efficiency. Average company in our association is about 10 million dollar and they work with about 40 employees. However, in India, there are twice as many employees doing the same revenue. Canadian mould makers can partner with Indian mould makers to help grab this opportunity.

On the other side, India can help us fight with skill shortage. In Canada, the average age of mould makers is 52 years, that’s huge and in about 10 years they are going to retire. I think Indians can potentially help us here. I see, India as our strategic partner who could take some of our jobs.

Partnership is the future. Mould makers will always fall under the SME bracket…and it’s same around the world. That’s why it’s important to have right collaborations.

Most of the mould makers are SMEs. What are the SME or industry friendly policies in Canada that can also be implemented in India?
Our association has figured out that media, government, industry and association needs to rely on each-other. SMEs don’t necessarily use the media as a tool and government normally do not pay much attention because they are small. We have put in huge effort to make sure that SMEs are heard in media and by the government. So I think, in India also it’s very important that SMEs are heard and well received by media and government. As an association it’s our job is to make sure that SMEs are well received and have business friendly policies. I believe TAGMA is doing the same for Indian mould makers.

Skill development is another challenge that companies around the globe are facing. What are the initiatives taken by CAMM for skill development?
In Canada, in about eight years we are going to lose 25-30% of our work force. So it’s critical for us. I believe more women should join the manufacturing industry; they can help us fight the declining number of employees. The industry has not been able to attract the younger generations because mould making is not considered as a glamorous role. Our job is to change that perception, and for that we also have to change.

Once we conducted a program and brought parents, students, college and heard every one of them. Parents said that they don’t’ see a good future for their children in manufacturing. We said we need to improve and started work towards that. We reached out to the government and asked for support. College cited reasons like lack of payment, not organised and less hiring. So everyone had a valid argument. Since then we have been trying hard to work with all the stake holders such as college and government to train young generations and improving ourselves.

What are the currents trends and demands you see in the Canadian mould making industry?
Recently, at CAMM we announced that we are not only a mould making association but also an automation association. Mould makers and automation are living together and working together. I see, more and more Canadian mould makers are looking for higher automation. A mould is nothing but a piece of a bigger process, however very important one. So automation is trending in Canada. We believe Industry4.0 is the future. Mould makers need to continuously push efficiencies and make fewer mistakes. We have realised that in order to grow we need great processes, great people and great equipment.

Your views about Indian die mould industry…
The Indian industry is getting matured and has huge opportunities. People here are passionate about mould making. Mould making is a very tough job with long hours and stiff deadlines, however there are many people joining the industry.

I see a great partner in India. Our skill trades have been very low for many years we have not ben able to attract people so we had to use automation to tackle the skill shortage issue. So we have deployed system and processes that are highly automated ….I hope to bring that culture/ knowledge to India. With our technical knowhow and Indians knowledge this could be the best combination.

By signing this MoU, I want to deliver a message that we are not here to compete with you but partner with you. Together we can grow and compete with the world.

*This interview was first published in TAGMA Times, an offecial newsletter of TAGMA*