Best Managed Companies

Équipement d’Emballage MMC: Canada’s Best Managed Companies 2017

Canada’s Best Managed Companies

Looking back, Philippe McNally admits it was a little naive to jump into business with his father so soon after the elder McNally’s previous company went bankrupt in the late 1980s. But as a gumptious recent engineering grad, he was convinced he could succeed in building an automated packaging company where his father and a former partner had failed the first time.

They would be more conservative with their finances and appetite for growth, the young McNally decided. That strategy worked, and has been working for more than 25 years. “That conservatism has been present through my entire career,” says McNally, now the president of Laval, Que., firm Équipement d’emballage MMC (a.k.a., MMC Packaging), which designs and builds automated machinery for companies that manufacture plastic caps and lids for anything from food products, to pharmaceuticals, to agricultural chemicals. “We’ve always gone slowly and surely,” he says. “Before we take a step, we make sure we’re in a solid financial position to do so.”

A key way McNally ensures stability is to surround himself with a highly versatile workforce of people trained to do numerous tasks, such that the business is never fully dependent on any one of its 65 employees. “Having people who are able to cover multiple roles and responsibilities within the business is a huge risk mitigator,” he says.

Appropriately, the willingness and ability to learn new skills are qualities the company looks for while recruiting and also attempts to foster internally. “Everyone is encouraged to indicate their specific areas of interest during our biannual reviews,” says McNally. That could be learning to operate a different piece of equipment or taking on new managerial responsibilities. “We will not only offer training but also measure progress and make sure the skills are being learned, so we can meet both the employee’s objective and ours.” While the strategy helps the firm avoid risk, it’s also an effective way to recruit and retain engaged employees—especially millennials, who, McNally says, crave career development.

Meanwhile, having a versatile workforce takes pressure off McNally as a leader. “It allows me to focus on the things that interest me the most, which are engineering, conceptualizing ideas and sales,” he says. “It is important for me that the business not be heavily reliant on any single individual, including myself.”