“We have been in business since 1879. We’ve lasted that long and remained successful because we know when the business environment is changing and when we need to change with it,” says James Crosby, President of Saint John’s Crosby Molasses Co. “We recognize the need to be honest and recognize if our current methods are working and if change is needed. In recent years, that means looking at talent attraction and retention, sustainability, and productivity.”
Crosby says they had established a continuous improvement initiative, with a mandate to look for improvements to any process that could be addressed through new technology or innovation years ago. He says Opportunities NB (ONB) support has helped the company launch multiple projects as part of this productivity focus.
“Our Continuous Improvement Team identified a high-end piece of software called SafetyChain which has greatly reduced repetition in our data entry process,” notes Crosby. “We had an antiquated system whereby our people would have to record, manually, data points at certain steps in our manufacturing process; then it was all being recorded again by someone else at a different stage in the process. The potential for error was high, and it was simply inefficient. With support from ONB, SafetyChain was implemented and alleviated those issues.”
A second ONB-supported project involves a new packaging automation solution for the company’s dry packaging facility. This productivity project is still in progress, but Crosby says the company is confident it will pay for itself in less than two years.
One of the biggest upsides to remaining focused on productivity improvements is employee morale. “Part of the continuous improvement initiative includes holding regular town halls and employee feedback sessions. Giving employees an opportunity in a safe environment to have a say in how we can improve, which is essential. When people see their feedback put into action with new processes, new software, and new technologies, they know they’re being listened to and that their ideas can help shape the company. It’s great for morale and for the business.”
Crosby says the employee group is trending younger, and that more and more team members are comfortable working with new technologies, particularly digital solutions that can replace paper. “I think this all helps with employee retention as well,” he says. “Younger workers are, rightly, concerned about sustainability, and not only are they able to work with technology they’re comfortable with, but they’re also doing it knowing that we’ve dramatically reduced the amount of paper we use in our reporting processes. Our automation efforts are helping to reduce product waste as well.”
Support is Here
Crosby says businesses in New Brunswick should reach out to ONB and its partners if they have productivity challenges and need help achieving goals. “We’re a well-established company, but we don’t have unlimited resources. Funding support has helped us prioritize our investments while we’re working to achieve the desired results. Further, the rigor we went through for these projects, although initially daunting, was a huge benefit in terms of sharpening our internal processes and analyses. ONB support can be financial, but it’s also helped us get better at assessing our projects and what their true value is to the company.”
He says companies should be open and honest about the challenges they face, and not be afraid of asking for help and tackling change. “We’ve had a longstanding relationship with ONB, and truly appreciate their interest and expertise. They don’t wait for us to call with an issue, they’re proactive. They reach out to tell us about programs and events that we may be able to benefit from – whether it’s export, productivity, talent, etc. If you’re in business in New Brunswick with a vision for growth, and if you have specific productivity challenges, document it all as best you can and share it with ONB, they can and will help.”
Looking for help with productivity improvements? Companies can work directly with their regional ONB Business Development Executive (BDE) who are here to support and facilitate the entire productivity process by providing guidance and partner connections to position your business for that next level of success.
As one of Canada’s most trusted food companies, Crosby Molasses Co. is recognized for its high standards of quality in both its food products and its people. Learn more at Crosbys.com.
Productivity is the single most important determinant of a province and country’s prosperity. ONB has prioritized productivity improvement as a key driver that will help New Brunswick businesses increase their competitiveness and overall profitability. Check out this page for a look at how ONB’s focus on productivity is delivering results.