Well not exactly. Shepherd Thermoforming and Packaging in Brampton, Ontario Canada has been a leading designer and manufacturer of plastic packaging and material handling products for many years. With customers throughout North America the company celebrated it’s 25th anniversary last year and is enjoying record sales results thanks to its energetic and dedicated employees who hail from eleven different countries.
Recently co-owner Mark Shepherd, Vice President thought it would be neat to display flags of all the countries represented by their employees. They had a perfect location on the wall outside the second floor office. According to Mark the variety of nationalities is a source of pride for all who work at Shepherd, many of whom have been with the company for over 10 years.
“The diversity of individuals’ backgrounds brings a wide range of perspectives in every department. Some of our New Canadians were educated in their home country and others like Adam Halkowicz from Poland our Engineering manager and Slaven Tintor, Project Manager from Serbia got their technical education in Canada. Nathan Velautham, from Sri Lanka is a senior technician in the Engineering department and has worked with us for 17 years. There’s not much Nathan doesn’t know about thermoforming, “says Shepherd.” Nathan was joined by many fellow Sri Lankans over the years. Seven are still with the company today and hold important positions throughout the company.”
Eastern European countries like Poland, Serbia, Romania, Russia are well represented as well as Jamaica, India and Guyana. England and USA round out the list. And in case you are wondering ten employees were born in Canada.
A key to the company’s success is respect and cooperation among departments and employees. Todd Shepherd, who is President and Marks brother remembers about ten years ago when they had the “over the wall” mentality. Which he says happens when one department would not work with another saying they completed their responsibility and passed the job “over the wall”. This may have been a result of minor conflicts in nationalities. However that mentality is a thing of the past and all employees now see the benefits of cooperation and teamwork, qualities which management have stressed through programs like Lean Manufacturing, 5S, Value Stream Mapping, ISO…..
General Manager, Cornel Toader received his degree in metallurgy in Romania and understands the importance of respect for ones homeland. He has been home several times since joining Shepherd in 1999 and makes allowances for employees who need to visit relatives back home. “Sometimes it’s hard to be without key employees for extended periods but travel to places like India is hard to justify for only a week. Our people appreciate it and it’s something we know means a lot to them.”
Mark says that the flags look good filling the wall outside the office but quietly wonders where he will hang more if employees from other nations join the company. “We will start going around the plant if we have to. I am sure our people love to see the flag of their homeland as much as they and I love to see the Canadian flag hanging proud.”