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The strategic think tank of Quebec’s aerospace sector, Aéro Montréal, met with Hugue Meloche, President and CEO of Groupe Meloche.

Q. You were named Supplier of the year by Safran Transmission Systems. What does this award represent for you and what were the criteria of selection?

A. For our company, and mostly our employees, it is extremely fulfilling to be recognized that way by a client. Developing new contracts, especially on an international level, in Europe, takes years, and in Safran’s case, it took between three and four years.

Our clients evaluate us on criteria related to delivery time, quality performances and our ability to develop new parts fit to their needs.

Q. You have recently received a $7M in financial support from the government. Can you explain your investment strategy? What are your upcoming projects?

A. This financing is in response to our need to increase our production rate, as a result of large contracts we have signed over the past few years, including the LEAP motors of CFM (a joint venture of GE and Safran), the Gear TurboFan motor fomr Pratt & Whitney, and our contracts related to Global 7000. These are very long term contracts, which position us for decades. We are however facing a recruitment problem: we are currently looking for around 50 people over the next 18 to 24 months.

Q. What is the biggest challenge you are facing regarding the growth of your business?

A. Our main challenge is in the human resources department and the hiring of new employees. Recruiting around 50 people in 18 to 24 months is quite a task in a constricted market. The province of Quebec has almost reached full employment and we have been seeing a salary inflation. This is the number one issue for our company over the next few years.

We are now chiefly looking for production machine operators, who will work in the manufacturing cells. We therefore find ourselves in direct competition with manufacturing businesses of all kinds, not only of the aerospace sector. Moreover, the demographic we are targeting is a tough one: there are less and less young people on the job market and they have more options than ever. We must present a more attractive offer.

In this context, we turn to international recruitment, but it is not sufficient. We must diversify our work force and connect with the immigrant population and focus on the hiring of women, qualified immigrants and older workers.

Moreover, we are located on the outskirts of Montreal and our geographical location is an additional challenge to attract workers from the immigrant population. This is why we are trying to sensitize the government to these issues, so they can support us through different awareness programs.

Q. How have you adapted to the 4.0 shift and how has it played on your company’s growth?

R. We have been investing in all things 4.0 for years. Procedures automation and equipment connectivity is crucial for us to remain competitive internationally. Moreover, since workers are hard to find, our tools have to be automated to maintain our production rate.

We decided to invest mostly in our company’s structure, our IT structure. Important work was put into our IT governance to structure the team. We were recently audited as part of the MACH FAB 4.0 initiative and received an excellent score, which comforted us in our decision. Our 4.0 investments are just starting to profit us, and we are looking forward to the future.

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