When John Walkinshaw, General Manager of Orangeville Honda, arranged to take his staff through the Honda of Canada Manufacturing (HCM) plants in Alliston, he was expecting it to be a great learning experience that would educate his team members about how Honda automobiles are made and reinforce a sense of connection to the product they were selling.
Walkinshaw was correct on both counts, but he and his team also came away from the tour – which had to be planned months in advance – feeling great appreciation to the associates at the HCM plants and to the manufacturing process itself. Being onsite is the only way to experience the sheer enormity of the plants or to comprehend the technical expertise and planning that goes into operating the various lines.
Walkinshaw did his tour up in style, fitting team members out in red t-shirts. During the tour, they learned that in the mid-80`s, Honda of Canada Manufacturing opened the plant in Canada as part of the company’s global commitment to building vehicles close to where they are going to be sold. The HCM plants are built on 450 acres of land, and in addition to the manufacturing facilities, the site also boast a recreation centre (complete with arena and fitness area), a baseball diamond, and tennis courts.
The plants themselves are large enough, they require radios to communicate between stations. During the tour it was pointed out that when production is halted at any point in the line – for instance, if they run out of a certain part – all the remaining points on the production line also halt. When you stop to consider that the on-site supply of materials and parts is regulated so closely that there are often only enough parts in stock to keep production rolling for a few hours, you realize the level of planning and control that goes into day-to-day operations.
“I really enjoyed being able to reinforce to my employees the fact that some of the product we are selling is being manufactured that close to home,” Walkinshaw enthused, observing “It is also great to see how many people are being employed by the plant… how much it is contributing to the local economy. Seeing the scale of the operation makes you really appreciate our associates in Alliston.”
Walkinshaw went on to say he thought any dealership would benefit from taking the tour. Saj Molu from Bolton Honda agrees. “I’ve been looking into the tour myself,” Molu commented, noting “It isn’t something that is available to the general public, but for dealerships, I can definitely see the benefits.”
Walkinshaw went on to say he thought any dealership would benefit from taking the tour. He encourages everyone to drop by Orangeville Honda at 207187 Hwy 9 for a test drive and to check out what’s on special this spring.
Written by Shelly Sargent