Saint-François-de-Madawaska’s JMN Enterprises Inc. is a family-owned manufacturer that produces a wide variety of value-added wood products for both the wholesale and retail industries. Founded in 1998, JMN has grown tremendously in recent years and is well recognized for delivering high-quality products thanks to its in-depth knowledge of advanced wood manufacturing and reliance on cutting-edge technology.

CEO Jean-François Landry says JMN has grown from seven employees in 2015 to a current team of 32, with major clients going from two to 12. “We’ve come a long way from my father launching the company in his garage,” notes Landry. “We’re now selling everything from kitchen accessories to grill accessories to wood components for cabinets and furniture. Growth has been great in recent years.”

ONB spoke with Landry to learn more.

ONB: The company continues to grow its business and its team here. What benefits does JMN see from operating in New Brunswick?

Jean-François Landry JMN EnterprisesLandry: We benefit from a strong work ethic in this province and regional pride in doing great work in wood manufacturing. Also, not enough credit is given to the strong collaboration in the northwest region between companies working in value-added wood. It’s a strong cluster we’ve created here, and everyone wants to help each other succeed.

One example is a program we founded called PIC (which translates to community incentive program in English), which provides financial assistance to newcomers to Haut-Madawaska if they work for us, Groupe Westco, or Nadeau Poultry. If people work and remain here, they qualify for a certain amount of financial support to get them settled permanently. It’s a way to improve talent retention, which is essential for our region and for New Brunswick.

The support in New Brunswick is another plus. ONB has been a one-stop shop for us, providing constant advice and guidance; steering us through the ways we can find support; connecting us to partners; challenging us with benchmarking exercises, and helping us attend trade and woodworking equipment shows in places like Las Vegas and Germany. The help ONB offers in terms of mitigating risk is a game-changer that has helped us grow quicker.

What investments has JMN made in terms of automation/productivity?

Increased productivity is essential if we’re to compete globally, continue our growth trajectory, and attract more great talent. We went through two expansions that included purchasing state-of-the-art equipment and are still looking to improve. We’ve made major investments in automation between 2019 and 2021 equipment includes a scanner, cut-to-size sawing line, automatic glue clamp carrier, and an additional CNC. Our goal is to raise productivity company-wide by 25 per cent. Further investments in lean manufacturing and ERP are presently being done, and early results are positive. We also now have a weekly KPI review to verify all of this is still on track and adjust where needed.

Any advice for other manufacturers regarding new technology?

Really understand what you need before investing. There is plenty of technology out there but not every shiny new toy will be the best fit for your business. Ensure you have the right team to work with in terms of equipment suppliers because again there is a ton of equipment on the market and it’s your job to find the right solution together. Whenever possible, engage in small batch testing first, find a supplier that will allow it. This will ensure the solution is getting the right results, and you can scale from there. You may think you’re getting 25 per cent improvement and you end up getting five. Not great if you’ve already invested half a million.

What’s next?

Further expansion into the U.S. market, continued growth of our online sales which have risen sharply post-COVID, and more focus on automation via robotics and other digital tech. We also want to hire more; automation provides new types of advanced roles for people with specific skills – engineers and programmers for example. We also plan to train existing employees on this new equipment and processes. They are an essential component of our success thus far and that will allow them to grow along with the company.

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