Canadian Association of Moldmakers
Everyone in this industry knows what a challenging yet lucrative field moldmaking can be, but the rest of the world is another story. Add the reality that not enough young people are taking an interest in the field to the fact that those that are don't always receive the proper training - and one worries about the future of this industry as a whole.
This is precisely what the Canadian Association of Moldmakers (CAMM) is fighting so hard to address. Twenty years ago the moldmakers in Windsor, Ontario got together and formed the Windsor Association of Moldmakers (WAMM) to provide regular marketing, training and technical activities to firms that would join the organization as well as keep them abreast of advancing technology.
Ten years later, in an effort to involve moldmakers, designers, manufacturers and suppliers across Canada, CAMM was formed and registered to provide members with an international understanding of some of the advancements in the industry, and WAMM was disbanded. According to Louis M. Papp, CAMM industrial strategist, this gave the organization more credence. "Our mission then became to better the moldmaking industry in Canada," Papp recalls.
CAMM - counting 135 companies in its membership - involves itself heavily in apprenticeship programs. "We are trying to foster the need for apprentices and apprenticeship training, both on the provincial and federal level," Papp explains. "We are asking the local community colleges to strongly support trades training and apprenticeships; and we are trying to encourage more young women to take part in our apprenticeships. That's a resource that we haven't tapped well enough yet."
The association wants tax credits given to companies that train apprentices, Papp says, because a company's investment does not end after training. "Not only do we have to train them - we have to keep them," he notes. "The best way to do that is to make them sorry to leave the company. Give them opportunities for lifelong learning, to constantly upgrade themselves because things are changing so rapidly. Firms that work closely with their staff will recognize that their employees want to be challenged every day and they take pride in the fact that they are true craftspeople. We encourage shop owners to recognize this dedication."
Fifteen years ago, CAMM did tap heavily into all of its resources to overcome a huge obstacle facing Canadian moldmakers. Papp explains, "The Canadian Government Revenue Department put a duty tax on any molds that came back to Canada for repair. Then, when the mold shipped back out, another duty had to be paid. Essentially it made us noncompetitive." CAMM worked closely with the Canadian and U.S. Customs Departments for two years to get the issue resolved and come up with a system that satisfied all parties, resulting in the Goods and Service Tax, from which moldmakers are exempt.
Today, Papp notes that the slowdown in the electronics and automotive industries throughout the past several years has impacted Canada's moldmakers, and CAMM wants to help. "We are trying to encourage more diversification with our members, and encourage them to constantly reappraise their customers every six months," he states. "Actually, we aren't just encouraging them, we are showing them how to do it. They need to ask questions like, Who are our customers today? How much profit are we making from them? How easy is it to work with them? and What are the chances of them being in business three years from now - five years from now?
"Also, moldmakers need to find out what is happening down the road - new innovations, new technologies, new computer programs, etc.," he continues. "For example, will some of the equipment they paid $1 million for three years ago be outdated next year? These are issues that a lot of moldmakers have been taking for granted."
Additionally, CAMM encourages Canadian moldmakers to build teams within their own organizations and continue to give young people opportunities. "It has taken time to change the culture of these businesses and at the same time we must stay abreast of the latest governmental changes - not just in Canada but around the world," Papp emphasizes. "We are happy to say that we are succeeding in these efforts."
Just two CAMM full-time employees - plus a lot of volunteers - are working diligently to get the word out, Papp notes. He stresses that communication is vital to the industry's success and to that end, CAMM works closely with the American Mold Builders Association (Roselle, IL) and the National Tooling and Machining Association (Fort Washington, MD) to ensure that the industry continues to change the public's outlook toward craftspeople and skilled trades. "Moldmaking is a profession - a true craft," he emphasizes. "The opportunities are endless."
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