June 15, 2023
By Blake Marchand
IDEAL Industries celebrated 60 years of manufacturing in Canada on Wednesday, June 14th with an employee appreciation event at their Ajax facility, that also included recent retirees and a few special guests from around the industry. Each employee received a customized gift and attendees received a miniature version of IDEAL’s iconic Tuff Tote.
IDEAL CEO Steve Henn and Chair Meghan Juday also made the trip to help the company celebrate the milestone, along with industry members from EFC and NETCO, and loyal customers like Lance Giesbrecht who arrived sporting an IDEAL Nationals tattoo on his arm.
Fittingly, alongside the celebration was a Tools in the Trade Boot Camp, an initiative IDEAL has been supporting for a couple years now. Tools in the Trade, organized by Support Youth Ontario, gives students and adults looking to change careers an open door into the trades, with some onsite training and a set of tools.
IDEAL Industries is a manufacturer that has set itself up for longevity, both in the products they manufacture here in Canada and the U.S., and the company culture they have fostered throughout their history. The company is in its 5th generation of family ownership, and that sentiment has been filtered down and cemented as the foundation of the company.
When speaking with employees, the recurring theme was culture and the people. Giving employees a sense of belonging and the importance of their role in the success of the company, has been instrumental to their longevity.
“Ideal was founded by my great grandfather with one product we made for 100 years, a commutator stone, which, in fact, we sold on the 100th anniversary,” said Juday, “and now we’re making products that we will sell for another 100 years. The wire nut we’re definitely going to be needing that for a very long time. That’s just some of the legacy we have in having this long-term family perspective.”
It is those types of product offerings that allow IDEAL to remain steady through difficult times like the pandemic and the economic uncertainty that has followed. Despite those conditions, IDEAL has had a stronger than expected start to 2023. A big factor in that is the investments they have made over the past five years or so into their production equipment.
“We have the stability in our organization to do things for 100-years, and we don’t even get bored of it, we just keep doing it better and better,” Juday said.
Henn built off that sentiment, noting that products like the IDEAL Can-Twist give them the stability to innovate and develop their product offerings as the industry changes and evolves.
“As Meghan said, 60 years is a long, long time for an operation to be in business,” Henn said, addressing attendees. IDEAL Industries has been around for 107 years total, IDEAL Canada was initially established in November of 1962 and began operations the following year at their current facility in Ajax, ON.
Henn said in recent years they have narrowed their focus when it comes to strategy, “We’re focused on industries that we know are going to last another 100 years, because the family is committed to owning the business long term, and we’re committed to the areas we operate, and we’re trying to show that commitment with new strategy and the investments we’re trying to make.”
“A lot of change in our focus over the last two years,” he explained, “Covid kind of taught of some of this, but, innovation, new products, really understanding what our customers want, is what’s truly going to allow us to be in business for the next hundred years.”
“We make Can-Twist, it’s a fantastic product and I hope we make for another hundred years, but as regulations change, as wiring may change going forward, we need to make sure we have the right products to continue that into the future. Understanding our customer’s needs will really help us make sure we develop those products that we make at all our facilities so that we’re here for another 60, 80, 100 years.”
Henn also noted that lasting as long as they have is difficult to do. They have invested in products that are essential to industries that are essential to our economy. However, it takes more than that to achieve the longevity they have accomplished. Henn, Juday and IDEAL Canada General Manager, Dag Nyhoff’s comments all highlighted the core values of the company. Nyhoff spoke to the team they have developed – which includes three employees that have been with the company for over 30-years – and the enjoyment he gets out of working with the IDEAL family.
Ultimately, at the centre of their success is the people that make up IDEAL Industries, and the way the company fosters inclusion and empowers employees to understand their role in that culture as well as the overall success of IDEAL.