With only six full-time employees, LMI (LubeCorp Manufacturing Inc.) knows all about the challenges of trying to grow with limited resources. LMI researches, develops and manufactures a line of environmentally safe lubricants and fuel additives (All-SAFE™) at their Calgary-based manufacturing plant. LMI also offers a Classic™ fluids line of automotive engine lubricants and fuel conditioners for extreme environments. With a small number of existing customers in the aerospace and defence (A&D) sector, LMI wanted to expand their share of the sector market and decided that they needed some help getting themselves ready for growth.
Working with Productivity Alberta provided just the right opportunity. As one of four companies that participated in the Aerospace and Defence Productivity and Competitiveness Pilot Program, LMI was able to get a bird’s eye view of their business from an objective third party with recommendations for how to improve their operations in order to meet what can be very specific industry standards.
Through the pilot program, LMI’s facility and operations were assessed to document their existing processes and get a baseline from which to measure improvements. LMI was then given a series of recommendations for improving their operations, processes, and their chances of being able to secure A&D contracts.
The recommendations reflected items that many other small manufacturers often face when they are busy and focused on day to day operations. Things like strategic planning and standardizing processes to reduce waste and control costs are issues that affect all manner of companies in every industry.
Maya Walsh, LMI’s marketing manager, says their participation with the pilot prepared them for growth. “In order to get up to that standard for the A&D sector, we have to basically put into place the infrastructure for our business that is essential for growth.”
A second assessment evaluated the progress that LMI made towards meeting their goals. While it will take time to meet all of their long-term goals, LMI has already seen some positive results. Now that they have a plan in place, they’re continuing to progress with the momentum gained from their participation in the pilot. “Once you get started, one thing leads to another and before you know it: you are well on your way and you are encouraged to keep going,” says Walsh. “Even though there are resource challenges to be able to get everything done, you have to be flexible and adjust the process.”
The entire exercise emphasized to LMI how important it is to work on the business of being in their business. “Often in small businesses, strategic planning takes a back seat to day to day operations. However it is so vital to business growth and success – you have to have the ability to ‘pop up’ from ground level and see what’s going on at a higher level.”
While many companies may try to tackle this type of exercise on their own, LMI really benefited from working with someone else. “Could someone within the organization have done it?” asks Walsh, “Possibly. But it might not have had the same impact and weight. It was so valuable having an outside party with industry expertise providing advice and making recommendations that you knew were going to be relevant.”