For the past few months, the entire planet has been facing an unprecedented health crisis that we cannot stop talking about. Unlike many other challenges that we have faced collectively, the pandemic that struck our province in March 2020 cannot be compared to any situation that we have had to face in more than a century. Faced with the uncertainty of this crisis, our company chose an action plan to show resiliency, flexibility and caution in order to implement solutions leading to adapting to the new norm. This new reality which, let us say, has hit us all, has led our entire organization to review its ways of doing things. Whether it is the establishment of a crisis committee, the transition to teleworking of some of our employees or even the support of our customers in the face of this crisis, our employees have been able to role up their sleeves to take on the challenge. Because at Corbec we strive for and remain committed to be a partner that is easy to do business with. We hope to have been able to demonstrate this even more by putting forward the means to allow the continuity of our operations while ensuring the safety of our employees.
A word from our President
Dear friends and colleagues,
This 5th edition of our newsletter has a special flavor. We have just passed an unprecedented crisis as a society, as a company and from a human point of view. During the last weeks and months, we have experienced a difficult period as individuals and I know that each of you must have dealt the crisis and the difficulties it brings, in your own way. I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones have managed to get through this period as best as possible!
From an economic point of view, we can consider ourselves lucky at Corbec since we were able to resume our business without too much impact. The entire sales and operations teams worked tirelessly to sustain customer relationships while maintaining a high level of production throughout the crisis. The administrative, technical, marketing, purchasing and human resources teams have also worked together to develop a reintegration plan for a back to work program that addresses prevention and safety protocols. We have great challenges ahead of us in the coming months and our team is ready to face them.
Today I would like to reassure you by informing you that we have weathered the storm and that brighter days are ahead of us. Assuredly, there will still be difficulties that we will have to face, but the worst is behind us. Notwithstanding this, we will have to change our lifestyles as well as some of our habits. In the past, certain rules of hygiene were not part of our typical behaviour, but from now on we will have to integrate these in all aspects of both our personal and professional lives. Social distancing measures will be part of our routine for a good while!
In closing, I would like to thank each one of you for your work, your dedication and for continuing to believe in us, as well as in Corbec, a Quebec company serving Canadians!
Sales and operations planning are a key element to customer service during normal times. It becomes even more critical during a pandemic when information and parameters change daily. The objective during a crisis is to protect our core, and for the most part, our plans and actions are geared towards doing so. But it is also an opportunity to identify innovations and new ways of working that may not have been considered before.
Corbec took on the challenge of ensuring that customers that were deemed part of the essential servicers sector were provided with the service they were accustomed to throughout the years. It was imperative to be flexible and innovative with production and resource planning and adopt methods that will help us emerge from the crisis stronger than before.
Customer requirements, production planning, resource and manpower scheduling were part of a daily S&OP review. Ensuring enough work for all our plants to remain operational was extremely challenging.
Retaining staff and the acquired knowledge and skills they bring to Corbec was a key factor in the manpower decision making process. Continuing to invest in our people would allow our business to recover more quickly once the economic environment returns to normal.
The biggest area of concern was ensuring employee safety. Managing the health and safety protocols were not only a part of the risk assessment and mitigation plan, but also a huge factor in capacity planning. Prioritizing any health and safety policies, procedures and equipment required for employees to do their jobs safely were key factors to keeping operations fluid and meeting customer demands.
Business disruptions can severely affect customers and employees and require special action planning. Although the current environment is still somewhat uncertain and some companies are significantly reducing staff, Corbec has been able to adapt and we have remained easy to do business with, even during this crisis.
Pandemic and telework
Continuous Improvement Manager
Friday March 13th was quite a Friday the 13th. It was the beginning of what we can now call "Quebec on break". A break that was going to have a major impact on our business and on the way we work.
Our pause would be short as Corbec was designated as part of the essential services sector and would continue to operate. But that also meant operating in a new reality. Our first objective was to comply with government protocols on health and safety regulations. While a certain portion of our office staff could work from home, not all employees could. We still had to run a plant and that requires hands on labor. The steel delivered to our plants during the pandemic had to be received, processed and delivered by people on the spot. This required quick adaptation to new working protocols that had to address respecting the distancing measures put in place by the public health authorities and by our internal " Corbec Covid-19 committee ". In this regard, we had a very good collaboration and acceptance from all the employees in the plants. It was not simple and often the measures changed due to new information transmitted by public health, but all measures were taken for the safety of employees and smooth operations.
Our plant operations still needed required administrative support. We quickly put in place measures to ensure that our employees could work from home in order to support the plants. We were able to equip our staff with all the tools necessary to allow them to work from home in a safe environment. From laptops and printers to reconfiguring secure remote access (via a VPN) in the homes of our employees to ensure the same level of service as usual to our customers. Our quick turnaround was made easier, because for more than ten years now, Corbec had already opted to work on remote sessions on servers, even in the office. In fact, there was only a few secure access points missing for a small number of users. Corbec's telephone system being based on IP telephony, also made it simple to redirect telephone calls to employee cell phones and landlines, making the transition seamless to our customers.
Working from home does not come with some challenges. For some, the first week was "weird" as it is not natural to start our working day in pajamas, but fortunately, time passes, and we establish a new and more effective routine. We learn to work with powerful tools that we typically do not use to their full potential during normal times (i.e. sharing software and video conferences). We become efficient by working from home, commute time is used more efficiently, we can even “handle a load of laundry” between two tasks.
With the deconfinement measures that are now being put in place, we will adapt again. Part of the workforce will be able to come back to the office while the others will continue to work from home. The numbers will change with the deconfinement and we will be able to adjust them again if sanitary measures are required. Gradually, everything should return to normal, whether it’s the old normal or a new normal, we will be able to adapt our work to ensure the proper continuity of our operations.
The global situation is not always encouraging, but companies that can adapt will be fine. History has always shown that it is not always the strongest who survive, but often it is those who adapt best. One of our strengths has always been our ability to adapt quickly during a crisis.
Excellence Awards in Hot-Dip Galvanizing
The Excellence in Hot-Dip Galvanizing Awards presented by the American Galvanizers Association, seeks to recognize the special skill and efforts of galvanizers, fabricators, architects, engineers, contractors, and all other parties as they complete projects that will remain durable, beautiful, and maintenance-free for generations to come. In April 2020, Corbec once again distinguished itself at the awards ceremony at the American Galvanizers Association Excellence Gala.
Below are the 2 projects for which Corbec was recognized
The new Samuel-De Champlain Bridge
Collaborators on the project :
Engineers: SNC-Lavalin & WSP
Fabricators: Soudure Camille Castonguay Inc,
BPDL Inc, Pro-Ballast (Genilux),
Acier AGF Inc, Pro-Mec Elite Inc,
Canam Ponts, Structures C.P.I Inc
735 kV Chamouchoune-Bout-de-L’île Transmission Line
Collaborators on the project :
Fabricators: Prometek Inc & Fabrimet
Management of a COVID-19 crisis committee
Human Resources Director
On March 13, Quebec declared a state of health emergency throughout its province. As of this announcement, our President, Godfroy St-Pierre, immediately set up a crisis committee comprised of himself, the HR Director, the VP Operations, the Controller and the Operations Directors. On the same day, prevention protocols and directives were posted in the plants to deal with, among other things, washing hands at the entrance, greetings protocols, isolation directives for employees with symptoms and many other measures. An emergency measures plan was deployed on March 16 to protect our workforce, our suppliers and our customers and to orient our managers with these new responsibilities. We also sent information available from public health at the start of the pandemic to keep employees informed of new developments, in addition to creating a tab on the Corbec website to keep in touch with as many people as possible. Since its inception, the committee has met with video conferences every morning with the stakeholders concerned, and follow-up has also been done following daily government announcements during the first weeks of the state of emergency.
Having been decreed as an essential service by several of our customers, we have been on the lookout for public health directives while making sure to adapt public directives to the reality of plants.
So far, we have increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfection activities in our factories and offices as directed on each shift. We have established rules for all employees such as social distancing by respecting the minimum of 2 meters between each worker as much in production as during breaks and meals. Each visitor and sub-contractor must follow our preventive measures protocols when visiting our sites. We transitioned to video conferences for our meetings and we also asked our employees who had the possibility of teleworking to do so until further notice in addition to restricting non-essential travel as much as possible.
We are monitoring the situation closely and pledge to spare no effort and to communicate regularly with our employees, suppliers and customers as we move through this period of uncertainty together. The safety of our staff is our priority and we will continue to ensure that we are proactive in preventive measures. We had no confirmed case of an employee with the virus when this article was written in early May and we believe that all our risk prevention measures have helped decrease the chances of spreading the virus. We must remain vigilant and we know very well that the measures taken so far will be there again for several months. Together, through this ordeal, Corbec has brought together all its managers and we emerge stronger and ready to meet the challenges that will arise before us.
The COVID-19 crisis, or the art of managing and reinventing yourself
"Men accept change only in necessity and they see necessity only in crisis". - Jean Monnet
This quote from Jean Monnet took on its full meaning last March when the Quebec economy was put on hold. Corbec, having been deemed as part of the essential services sector, had to respond quickly. The entire team was tasked with finding a new operating mode and a new approach previously never experienced. The sales department was no exception, several nights of light sleep, rethinking our ways of doing things, trying to see what was going to be in store for us, trying to review the "how" we had to do things in order to maintain a customer approach and support that resembles what Corbec has built for so long with our customers. Our usual proactive approach had to give way to a more reactive crisis management in the face of many unknown factors.
The main goal was to stay true to our brand, our customer service and our raison d'être. Communication with our customers was even more crucial. We knew that many of our clients were also essential to the government and that they also needed to rethink and change their methods. Corbec needed to consolidate its relationships with an even stronger partnership approach and to position itself as a supplier capable of meeting needs during the crisis. We therefore opted for a short-term approach in collaboration with our planning department in order to obtain information on the needs of our customers on a weekly basis and to adjust our production capacity accordingly. Flexibility was key to responding to customer needs. We also had to manage all our current and future contracts that would have new deadlines as the situation is not only limited to the present, but also to "post-crisis" planning.
In addition, we had to be innovative, by reviewing our working methods, communicating with customers virtually through video conferences, phone calls and virtual files. As another old expression states, "never let a crisis go to waste”. We can learn lot of positive things from this situation, which can open a lot of positive changes in the long term. We can feel a greater openness to change on the part of our people, develop greater flexibility both internally and with our customers. Since the beginning of the crisis, the sales team has been working from home, telecommuting opens new ways of doing things, our communications are more frequent, and we consolidate information so as not to lose it. As a manager, telework can also give us a chance to stop and think. In "normal" mode, we always keep ourselves busy and in the action. This sometimes takes us away from questioning and reflecting, something that may be necessary in our ways of approaching things, analyzing our leadership style, our ways of doing things in everyday life and questioning the "why" we do things that way. It can also allow us to consult with our team more often and to reflect on what we should keep, what we should change and what we want to be as a team for our employer and for our customers.
The current crisis has certainly enabled us to think differently, to increase mutual trust in the team, to communicate better internally and above all, to be less afraid to modify our decisions according to the evolution of the situation (flexibility).
How do we plan for continuity? Will business resume quickly? Slowly? The answer is far from easy. One thing is certain, the addition of our efforts to meet current and future demand, an understanding and an openness of our customers as to how long it will take to return to normal will be a winning recipe for continued success. Communication then becomes the key to success with our customers. We must have clear, unambiguous answers and give the true picture of the situation without trying to embellish it.
To survive, you must adapt to change, this is not without pain, but it makes people stronger.
Innovating to curb the warping of galvanized tubes
The galvanizing of steel tubes for the automatic sprinkler systems and the fence industry is generally carried out using a continuous galvanizing processes designed and optimized specifically for the galvanizing of tubes, although there is still a portion of it done using hot dip galvanizing.
A few years ago, as market demand grew, Corbec significantly increased its production of galvanized steel tubes using its hot-dip galvanizing process.
This increase in production was not without challenges. Managing to deliver a quality product while being competitive in a market segment where most production comes from plants with a specialized process dedicated to the continuous galvanization of became a primary goal.
This objective was met by means of developing specific tools that would assist with allowing pre-assembly at the onset of the galvanizing preparation process. This made it possible to maximize the throughput of the number of tubes during each galvanizing cycle. This method combined with post-galvanizing finishing work also made it possible to meet quality and productivity requirements. However over time, it was observed that certain categories of tubes presented warping problems after galvanizing. At first, attention was focused on handling techniques before and after galvanizing, but although the tubes were handled according to the accepted industry standards, the warping problem remained. The technical department team was given the mandate to identify what factors were causing these distortions and to find a solution to eliminate the warping problem.
By studying the different variables, it quickly became apparent that the tension causing the deformation on the tubes was due to the racking methods being used. Hooking the tubes by the ends of the tubes was the root cause. The goal was now to find a way to modify the method of attachment to prevent it from causing warping in the tubes. But how can you hang tubes of various lengths without inducing tension and without drilling them to create hanging points?
Thus, begins the development of a prototype for attachment tools to support the tubes without there being tension between each of the ends. This new attachment tool was intended not only to eliminate the problem of warping, but also to maximize the previously established quality and productivity standards.
A promising attachment tool was quickly developed to assess whether the proposed solution would really correct the warping problem. Once proven, the new tool was optimized to meet the needs of large-scale production. Next step was the implementation and integration of the tool into everyday use through training of staff and the establishment of control processes for new production methods.
Since the introduction of the new technique, all the galvanized tubing has met customer expectations. The warping problem with hot dip galvanizing of tubes is now a thing of the past.
Recognition – Years of service
We would like to acknowledge and thank all our employees for their contribution to Corbec’s success. We hope that you will continue to be satisfied in your work environment.
Pedro Rolo Mtl
Michel Gravino Mtl
André Nadeau Qc
Elmer Zavala Mtl
Michel Bédard, Qc
Yannick Rood, Qc
Patrice Lagacé, Qc
Carl Mathieu, Qc
Francis Lamontagne, Qc
Robert Leblanc, Mtl
Alexandre Robert, Mtl
Olivier Vaudry, Mtl
Trevon Bartholomew, Mtl
Kelly Knox Hitlall, Mtl
Michael Niddrie, Mtl
Flavious Fru Chefo, Qc
Mateus Bobo, Qc
After 20 years, of loyal service, it was time for us to say « happy retirement » to Mr. Eric Kellum. Above all, we want to wish him all the best for his well-deserved retirement. It was a pleasure to have had you as part of the Corbec family. On behalf of the entire Corbec team, thank you for your great dedication!
Promotion to permanent status positions between December 2019 and May 2020 :
Internal promotion of employees is an objective that Corbec strives for as a means of rewarding strong performance and motivating employees with advancement opportunities within the organization. There are many career opportunities at Corbec, and we are committed to investing in our employees that show interest and potential for growth. We continue to work on developing and offering training that is adapted to our personnel to ensure that our people grow with Corbec.
Here are the nominations (promotions) for the months leading up to end of May 2020 for the entire group. We wish you good luck in your new challenges :
Interior forklift operators
Mamadou Lamine Mbaye
Exterior forklift operators
Frederic Marquis St-Pierre
Superviseurs de production/h3>
Quality Director - Eastern Region
Maintenance Director – Eastern Region
Operations Director – Eastern Region
Over head crane operators (acid)
Interior forklift operators
Ange Gabriel Ayivodjo
Ange Victor Cibang Nghov
Exterior forklift operators
Flavious Fru Chefor
Quality Director – Western Region
Maintenance Director – Western Region t
Continuous Improvement Manager
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