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Make way for moldmakers

Jun 27, 2023Jun 27, 2023

The Canadian moldmaking industry is growing as the demand for high-quality molds has been increasing over the last five years. AnnaElizabethPhotography/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The Canadian Association of Moldmakers (CAMM), Windsor, Ont., represents numerous members, all of whom have the same goal: supporting and advocating for the moldmaking industry.

CAMM is an organization of advocacy. In 2023, we will work with our members to advocate for government support, provide marketing advice, attend trade shows/events that will promote our members on multiple levels, provide information to help with their sales growth and development, advocate for changes to training, and work with partners to boost our industry presence globally.

CAMM also will provide education to our members in marketing, cybersecurity, government advocacy, exporting, taxation, and skilled labour training.

CAMM’s board members are experienced in topics such as government relations, marketing, health and safety, business development, as well as finance. Our committees continue to have important and relevant conversations as to how to best serve and advocate on behalf of our members.

And, while automotive is a big part of the industry, its diversity also is relevant and valuable. The association’s strength is in its diversity. Much of its work is very behind the scenes, yet crucial to the creation of products found in everyday life.

The moldmaking industry in Canada is growing, the demand for high-quality molds has been increasing over the last five years. The sector has been automotive-focused for a long time, with approximately 80 per cent of North American companies and more than 90 per cent of Windsor-Essex, Ont., companies in our sector focusing on automotive.

Diversity is a necessary, sound strategy.

Medical is up-and-coming, as are food packaging and personal care, which includes consumer and commercial product items. Plastic injection molding creates products across a broad spectrum, such as handles on fridges, drawers, computer mice, television frames, and lamp bases. These all are made from molded plastics.

Plastic is everywhere and our industry is a critical component of the plastic manufacturing process. A great many products that are vital to our everyday needs are made from plastics, hence the need for moldmakers.

The packaging industry is relatively stable with some deviations as other packaging materials enter the market to compete against plastic. CAMM has taken a proactive role in working to promote not only our members but the overall industry.

According to the Canadian Association of Moldmakers, there is an urgent need for skilled trades workers in the sector. serts/iStock /Getty Images Plus

Many industries rely on Canadian moldmakers for support, including the emerging electric vehicle (EV) market.

The EV product lineup is slightly different in terms of cockpit design as well as the exterior grill, for example, but the overall build and need for plastic injection molds is still strong. Molds are relevant for all vehicle types for dashboards and panels, so moving to EVs is not transformational for the moldmaking industry. We do remain included in EV conversations.

Canada plays a huge role in the moldmaking industry.

Diversification is important. Many of our members no longer see opportunities in being totally specialized because needs have vastly diversified.

Canada is home to some of the world’s largest moldmakers in comparison to the U.S., where there are smaller mold shops. These large Canadian companies must diversify and adapt to survive and remain competitive since 80 per cent of their products are exported.

However, some of our members have found that being specialized is of great value and they have customers who rely on them because of their very specific abilities.

The greatest challenge facing our sector is the need for skilled workers. There is an urgent need for highly skilled trades workers. In addition to that, there is a need to increase the use of automation (which will help with the skilled labour shortage) and complex programming.

Automation continues to be incorporated into a variety of manufacturing systems and processes. Moldmaking is not what it used to be. We are manufacturing and processing experts with molds as our end product.

Inflation and COVID-19-related cost increases have stalled the market in some areas, but this is universal and not unique to Canadian moldmakers. High interest and borrowing rates and high steel prices are definite pain points, but they are not unique to this country.

For our sector overall, businesses have progressed well. Preparation was key and CAMM provided lobbying to resolve border issues. During the pandemic, we provided training on HR, COVID-19-related legal issues, marketing, and how to best use trade offices virtually.

The pandemic was a busy time for plastic packaging because it was in high demand. Some companies experienced very strong business levels post-pandemic and are now able to invest more than ever into capital equipment and explore a variety of marketing initiatives.

Some companies had such a full order book that it allowed for investment in equipment and tooling.

Technology is increasing in all industries and evolving at exponential levels. To remain competitive, moldmakers must be on top of automation and technology. As new technologies evolve, we must evolve with them. The most important factor to keep work in Canada is obtaining skilled workers, now and over the next five to 10 years.

CAMM is a national organization. New Board Chair Kim Thiara owns and represents a Toronto-based company. At the board level, CAMM has been working to ensure that we look beyond Windsor-Essex, although this is a key hub for our industry and is vital to the entire manufacturing supply chain given the innovative and advanced products and services it provides.

Our board also recognizes the importance of connecting all Canadian moldmakers and establishing a community. CAMM membership provides other small and mid-size enterprises the opportunity to connect with business and export opportunities that they may not otherwise come across.

In addition to moldmakers, it is important that suppliers, service providers, and educational institutions be connected because we all have common goals. CAMM works to establish these connections.

In 2023, CAMM is releasing a new tool to help enable all Canadian moldmakers to connect with worldwide opportunities. These opportunities will be made available to CAMM members, who will be given early access to these opportunities, to assist with product sourcing as well as facilitating virtual/in-person connections.

The best role the government can play in the moldmaking industry is to allow moldmakers to focus on their business.

Government should put their resources into providing technologically competent people for our industry.

A good start is to put a manufacturing shop into every high school and invest money into technology to the same extent as science and math. Manufacturing alone creates hundreds of thousands of Canadian jobs, but right now we need human capital.

A greater focus should be placed on manufacturing education and training programs in high schools and colleges, and all levels of government should understand the true value of “the people who make things that make things.”

While so much of the focus is on the end product, we need to have more support at the multiple supply chain levels and incentives for schools to make skilled trades more enticing.

Focus often is placed on the automotive and aerospace industries, but moldmakers are vital to a great many other industries. We also need expanded opportunities to support funding for R&D and international marketing. Canadian manufacturing contributes $30.8 billion to Canada’s GDP, $3.3 billion from Windsor-Essex alone, and 80 per cent of produced products are exported to the U.S.

The government should support the recognition of the plastics industry while promoting a fact-based perspective on plastics and the role it plays in the everyday lives of Canadians. Additionally, the government should recognize the critical role plastic products play in reducing the carbon footprint in the many cases where plastics are, in fact, superior to other materials.

Support could also be reviewed for capital purchases, training, and expansion of facility space.

Moldmaking and the various suppliers are vital to the overall manufacturing industry, and CAMM has been integral in advocating for members to better educate politicians, bureaucrats, educators, and the general population on the value they provide to many communities in Canada.

Beyond community and the connections that are developed from being part of CAMM, members are kept up-to-date on information that they may not otherwise receive from our partners across the world or within local, provincial, and federal government agencies. We are dedicated to gathering relevant information from our members, including their needs and challenges as we work with our partners to create initiatives and programs to assist them. Our members also are kept up-to-date on government funding opportunities to help ensure that they are aware of what’s available and their requirements.

Our members receive a number of direct benefits, such as discounts, networking opportunities, and member-exclusive events. Membership also provides the opportunity to have their voices heard.

We also have had success with our government advocacy and outreach, and we currently are preparing for our members' participation in the upcoming National Plastics Exhibition (NPE) in 2024, the largest plastics exhibition in North America.

This article was supplied by the Canadian Association of Moldmakers, 5844 Malden Road Unit#140 Mailbox #302, Windsor, Ont. N9H 1S4,, with input from CAMM Board Chair Kim Thiara, AceTronic Industrial Controls; CAMM Executive Director Nicole Vlanich; Cyrus Jebely, Cap-Thin Molds; Vincent Ciccone, Top Grade Molds; Scott Allen, Integrity Tool & Mold; Jordan Robertson, StackTeck Systems; Robert Graup, INTEX Tooling Technologies; Lucas Tesan, Tesan Mould; and Tim Galbraith, Cavalier Tool & Manufacturing; with editing provided by Gail Robertson (GailNow).