The Right Move: Celebrating a Culture of Professional Development and Success

On a recent Friday afternoon, Creation’s Vancouver business unit (BU) became the site of a full on Mexican fiesta. Sure, there weren’t any margaritas, but there was a piñata and a four-man mariachi band.

In an hour filled with singing, dancing and clapping, they celebrated the promotion of one of our own. Ana Cantu, a 12-year Creation vet, was recently named Vice President of Supply Chain after spending the past five years as the GM of the Vancouver BU.

“We are a family here,” said Ana. “Our relationships are strong and we love to support each other.”

Celebrating the successes of team members has long been a part of our culture. At Creation, it is common for people to develop their skills, grow in their positions, and move into different roles – whether that is within their own department or a lateral move.

Being able to understand multiple areas of our business and the EMS industry enables our people to be strong assets to our customers.

Across our business units, you will see examples of people expanding their skill sets and making a move. We have recently seen a Customer-Focused Team Leader (CFTL) transition into a specialized Business Development role. On the flip side, we have also seen a former Finance Leader move into a CFTL position.

Donna Dasgupta of the Toronto BU was one of those people who sought out experience in a completely different department as she transitioned from CFT Support to People & Culture Administrator.

“I’ve never been at a company where employees came first and promotions and career development programs were such a priority,” said Donna. “Going into my new team with such a supportive atmosphere made the transition very enjoyable for me.”

Some people started their careers at Creation learning the ropes of the organization before transitioning into their dream role. That was the case for Haresh Shah, who was recently promoted from Production Associate to Test Engineering Support in Toronto.

“I feel so thankful that Creation gave me the opportunity to grow as a professional and person,” said Haresh. “I’ve always wanted to work in Test Engineering and now I have this great opportunity to do what I love.”

“The team was so happy for me, congratulated me and offered me any support I needed during the transition,” said Haresh. “I am very happy working in this type of environment!”

These are examples of our company developing our talent and bench strength to meet our customers’ needs. Part of the strength of Creation is the experience and versatility of our people.   The other part is the ongoing support the team gives each other.

 

The Key to Longevity in the EMS Industry is Consistency

In sports they call it the “three-peat”.

It is a term when a team wins three consecutive championships. The New York Yankees, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers are some of the elite teams that have accomplished this feat. Currently were watching to see if Team Canada can pull off their third consecutive gold medal at the world hockey championships.

Recently, Creation Technologies won the ‘Highest Overall Customer Rating’ in Circuits Assembly’s Service Excellence Awards for the third year in a row!

This award is based solely on feedback directly from OEM customers to electronics industry analyst, Circuits Assembly, and is an incredible achievement.

Creation ranks first overall amongst all EMS providers in the $500M+ category across all 5 categories of:

  • Responsiveness
  • Value for Price
  • Dependability
  • Quality
  • Technology

And while we are far from being compared to a sports dynasty, it demonstrates that we are achieving what we strive every day to deliver: consistent service to our customers.

Consistency is one of the key reasons why we have been successful for over 25 years. Our customers know our value offering and recognize that we put their needs first.

Being dependable is an art that comes with experience. These are some of the ways that we have been able to maintain consistency with our partners.

 

Our People

I get to be part of the best team in the world.

I am certain that a lot of CEOs say this, but I truly mean it. Creation is the most customer-focused company I have ever been a part of.

We have over 3,000 talented people, who have expertise, drive and heart. Every day in every business unit, they work together to solve problems, overcome challenges, and get things done.

This is a trait that cannot be taught. We choose people who have that innate desire to serve our customers and embrace our company’s core values.

 

Our Responsiveness

The hallmark of our customer service model is our ability to react.

The needs of our customers have always dictated how our business operates. With our various experts and multiple years of experience, we are able to take a customer’s problem and quickly find an efficient and effective solution.

One of the main differentiators we have over our competition is our customer-focused team (CFT) model. For every customer, we have a dedicated team that ensures projects are completed on time and at the highest quality. When customers have questions, we make it a priority to find them answers in a timely manner.

 

Our Quality

At the end of the day, you won’t last very long with your customers or this industry for that matter if you don’t consistently build quality products.

To optimize performance and eliminate product failures, we leverage our engineering expertise, invest in best-in-class machines, and design a cost-effective test stand solution.

Delivering quality products is also achieved through being proactive. Our team identifies software or hardware issues early on in the process, so that products work properly in the field.

Winning our third Service Excellence Award in a row is proof of our Continuous Improvement efforts, and the amazing collaboration between so many people – our Creation team, our customers’ teams, and our suppliers’ teams – to deliver “service excellence” to our customers that clearly differentiates Creation in the EMS industry.

So cheers to another great year as we attempt to complete a “four peat”.

5 Essentials to Deliver (Multi-Year) Award-Winning Customer Experience

creation-technologies-mississauga-project-team
Team CFT-D in Mississauga

There is an old saying in business that the customer always comes first.

I disagree!

Why? The saying is incomplete.

I believe in any business relationship, the best results occur when the customer always comes first….and the provider is purpose-built to deliver.

In seven years as a Customer-Focused Team Leader (CFTL) for Creation Technologies in our Mississauga business unit, I have learned that the key to delivering great customer service is having a great team that’s intentionally built to understand and deliver what our customers need.

If it weren’t for the amazing people I go into work with every single day, I wouldn’t have any customers!

Like everyone at Creation, I was extremely proud when it was announced that our company was the recipient, for the second year in a row, of the Circuits Assembly’s Service Excellence Award for ‘Highest Overall Customer Rating’. This award is based solely on third-party feedback direct from the customers of all participating EMS companies.

Winning the Highest Overall Customer Rating award in back-to-back years says two things to me:

• Creation Technologies has been able to deliver a consistently great customer experience.
• Our business model is the right one to deliver great products and solutions while providing exceptional service.

Anyone who’s worked in the EMS industry knows that staying consistent and credible with customers is not easy. It is something that takes a team effort and requires a lot of flexibility.

Before I wrote this post, I asked my Customer-Focused team for their thoughts on how Creation works with our customers to make them successful. Here’s what we came up with.

5 Essentials for a Great EMS Customer Experience

 

1. Be Available

Our Customer-Focused Team’s goal is to build genuine relationships with our customers – business relationships and personal relationships. Creation’s model is designed so that we act as an extension of our customers’ teams. We want customers to know they can pick up the phone any time, that communication isn’t limited to task-oriented emails, that we want to talk to them!

Sometimes we even call just to say hi!

2. Be Understanding

When we’re working with a customer, we want to make sure that we have a clear understanding of their needs. The best way to do that is to talk to their team regularly to find out what their priorities are, and how we can help adjust what we’re doing to make the right things happen.

We know that their customers’ needs are changing all the time, too.

3. Be Responsive

I’ve heard from my customers many times that some prior EMS providers struggled to get back to them in a timely manner, even for the simplest questions.

When a customer comes to our team with a question, we may not have an answer right away, but I guarantee we will immediately acknowledge their concern and let them know we are working on it. Our customers tell us in our weekly meetings that they appreciate that responsiveness.

4. Be Dependable

Holding ourselves accountable means that we can follow through on commitments. Open communication within our team is crucial. When we’re all on the same page, we can work together to make sure that what needs to get done, gets done.

5. Be Proactive

This one is near and dear to my heart as a team leader. When we’re adding to our team, I look for people that want to go that extra mile. For our customers, this delivers that relationship and service that goes ‘above and beyond’. For our Creation team, this means an environment that helps us all succeed in our roles and delivers the personal satisfaction that’s essential for long-term retention and success.

Just like the Pursuit of Excellence in Continuous Improvement, Creation Technologies will always work on finding new ways to provide a great customer experience.

But I’m very proud to be part of a company that has a track record of award-winning customer satisfaction.

And I also happen to believe I have the best customers and Customer-Focused Team at Creation, even though I know every Customer-Focused Team Leader feels the same way…

 

CFTD
Team CFT-D in Mississauga during Halloween 2015

 

 

“Why Did You Become A…?” A Series on Inspiration & Motivation

Why Did You Become...?

The other day I happened across a great post over at Design News. (If you’re at all interested in Design Engineering, you should give the site a look).

“Why Did You Become an Engineer?”, was the question Design News posed to their System & Product Design Engineering group on LinkedIn. The roundup post by Alexander Wolfe tells some of the group’s stories, giving us a peek into the mind of the weird and wonderful specialist that is the Design Engineer.

Though I’m not a Design Engineer, I can certainly relate to the moments and people in my life that captivated and motivated me. It’s also human nature to seek out social connection and to wonder “Why?”, and so it’s always interesting and inspiring to read the personal stories that people are willing to share.

I thought the “Why Did You Become…” idea was one worth spreading, and started asking people at Creation, “Why?” Luckily, we have great people and they were happy to share.

Here’s our first story, from Perry Nader, the Supply Chain Leader in our Dallas business unit.

It will surprise you.

“In the late 70’s I moved from Ottawa, Canada to San Francisco, California. An old friend and I had decided to open a small restaurant in San Francisco’s financial district.

The restaurant was a cute little breakfast-and-lunch diner, called MARAZCEK’S after a fictional character in a book that my friend had read in his childhood.

We were both the cooks and also managed all the suppliers, inventory, registers, employees etc. The restaurant was located right in front of the big old Mamma Bell (AT&T) building, and at lunch time we practically had people lined up 3-deep along the sidewalk.

Life was good until the early 80s, when a court decision forced Mamma Bell to break into a bunch of little Baby Bells, and the big building with all of the ‘lunch bunches’ went poof!!

We filed bankruptcy and lost every penny we had.

I practically became homeless.

I was lucky to have another old friend who lent me a hand and took me into his house in a suburb of Los Angeles.

My friend attended a university that catered to government employees and aviation professionals, and I was able to get a part-time/on-call job at the university’s cafeteria. I was hopeful that once I showed them my skills, part-time would turn into full-time and maybe I could even manage the place.

That year at the cafeteria, I met Janice. Janice was the Secretary, (yes, in those days that was the proper title), to Dean of Government Sponsored Educational and Training Programs. She and I became very good friends.

I often went to visit Janice in her office while she was on her break. One day, I started telling her the story of the restaurant and of my past. As I was talking, the door to the Dean’s office opened and the Dean stepped out.

“May I see you in my office please?” he said, pointing. Of course I said yes.

The Dean told me that there was a government grant for re-training of government employees on Closed-Loop Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP II). He took the time to explain it to me, referred me to the work of Joseph Orlicky and Oliver Wight, and invited me to meet with him again.

After a few more meetings he told me that based on my basic knowledge of procurement and inventory management, he thought that I could qualify for the training. Two months later I got the grant approval and training acceptance letter.

The program was 12 months, full-time, not only for MRP II but also some government-specific manufacturing process training. Our first project was setting up the entire planning process for a garage door opener.

We entered the BOM and routings in an ERP system, configured, planned, scheduled, managed inventory, sales orders, A/P, A/R, G/L… You name it, we did it. This was cutting-edge stuff.

Six months into training I received my advanced certification.

It’s funny how life works.

Several years before coming to Creation, 30 plus years after starting my career in supply chain, I was working as Director of Supply Chain and Operations for one of the divisions of a company called Chamberlain….one of the largest manufacturers of residential garage door openers in the world.”


How have you been inspired by the experiences of others?

What are some of the great ways you’ve seen these experiences change people?

And of course, why did you become an engineer, supply chain professional, teacher, historian…wherever your career led you?

Interview: How Education & Experience Create Success

At Creation there are a lot of people who combine their expertise and passion for learning to help Build the Future.

Michelle Li is part of our high-growth Finance team, and recently gave an interview at the annual Certified General Accountants Association’s CGA Connect networking event about the importance of education and experience.

You can read the post here on the CGA CareerView blog:
http://cgacareerview.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/from-co-op-to-career-creation/

Below, Michelle expands on the CGA post and shares some more insight about her background and insight into a growing company.

Michelle Li, CGA and Edwin Fok, CGA of Creation Technologies. Photo credit: Lawrence Chau, Fraser Heights Secondary.
Michelle Li, CGA and Edwin Fok, CGA of Creation Technologies.
Photo credit: Lawrence Chau, Fraser Heights Secondary.

 

Do you think that there’s a link between corporate culture and financial performance?

Michelle: Corporate culture and financial performance are definitely related. Maybe not in the short term, but in the long term, the companies with great financial performance that can overcome difficult times are the ones with great corporate cultures and caring people.

How has the Finance team changed as Creation Technologies has grown?

Michelle: The Finance team has become more dynamic as Creation has grown. When I joined in January 2006, we had six business units and revenues of $200M. We’d begun hiring Financial Analysts for each business unit and who sit on the business unit leadership teams, and were just beginning to see the impact this had.

Over the years, we have added many more specific roles to the Finance team and have had controls in place to enable the growth. Things are much more structured and sophisticated now.

The only thing that didn’t change is that the people are still fun to work with!

How has your education at SFU Beedie School of Business and then CGA enabled you in your role?

Michelle: When I joined Creation, I was in my second year at SFU. I had some basic accounting knowledge and that’s about it. I was fortunate enough to go through school while gaining work experience.

The work experience helped me understand that what I learned in the classrooms was not just boring debits and credits, financial statements and ratio calculations. I got to see the real meaning behind the numbers.

At the same time, all the “boring” textbook theories, concepts, frameworks, and cases taught me what I needed to look out for in real business situations and provided me with general direction.

Without either the work experience at Creation or the knowledge I gained through my SFU and CGA programs, I would not able to perform in my role the same way I do today.

What is it about Creation’s culture that you believe has made the company successful?

Michelle: Creation’s people and its caring culture are what make Creation successful. During difficult times, Creation has always put their people first whenever possible.

 

Creation is proud to be one of CGA’s Partners in Employment (PEP) companies.

Does your company partner with local organizations to help young people advance their careers and develop critical-thinking skills? What, for you, has helped make these programs successful?

We’re Expanding! Creation Technologies—San Jose!

Creation San Jose Key to City
Faiyaz Syed and David Longshore of Creation’s California team pose
with the Key to the City of Milpitas in Creation’s newest facility

What a Whirlwind!

After the Grand Opening of our new San Jose facility, we’re ready to breathe deeply and look forward. What an exciting couple of months these have been!!!

About 18 months ago, (I can’t say for sure, but it was sometime during the 1st quarter of 2011), Creation—Santa Clara just ran out of space.

As People & Culture Leader here in Santa Clara, I knew we were reaching our limits…

We’d run out of conference rooms bookable for essential meetings.

There wasn’t enough parking for our team.

Much to the dismay of our Continuous Improvement Coach and Supply Chain Leader, materials were stored in a temporary warehouse and even in what used to be walkways. This was definitely not aligned with Lean Materials Flow and our Tailored Product Supply solutions!

But our customers kept growing, and we were committed to growing with them. We had to find a solution.

Expanding Our Horizons

Careful analysis helped us come up with an answer…we decided to expand, and add our third building in California. (Our existing Creation—Santa Clara location has two, originally one for circuit board assembly, the other for full integration and direct fulfillment programs).

Faiyaz Syed, our Supply Chain Leader, was ‘volunteered’ to take on the responsibility of finding us a new home.

We expected our new project leader, Faiyaz, to scout a few buildings, arrange a few ‘home improvements’, and move some equipment and people over when the new facility was ready. Not much to ask, right?

It was a great deal more than that. It turns out that we have high standards!

Faiyaz and David Longshore, our General Manager in Santa Clara, ended up looking at over 100 buildings, both on paper and in person, to get it just right.

We looked in different cities such as Santa Clara (of course), San Jose (North and South), Fremont and Milpitas.

Summer went by, leaves changed color, and finally approaching the holidays, thanks to the keen eye of Kidder Matthews, we finally found what we were looking for in a building in Milpitas, just 5 miles from Santa Clara. Yippee!

We took possession of the new building in March 2012.

Creation Technologies—San Jose: Before and After
Creation Technologies—San Jose Before & After:
In the early stages and then in the weeks leading up to our Grand Opening

Our New (Second) Home in Northern California

We gave Faiyaz plenty of time to get us up and running. We just wanted to be in by June. No rush at all!

He’s done an amazing job, along with our entire team. I’ve loved watching everyone come together to make it happen.

The last couple of months have been a whirlwind of activity as we’ve laid flooring, installed HVAC, configured and qualified new SMT lines, achieved new regulatory certifications, streamlined inventory planning and product delivery, and moved our Customer-Focused Teams into their new homes.

To top it off, we also decided to embark on a new implementation of Oracle! But that’s another story.

Celebrating Our Grand Opening

A few weeks ago, the whole team finally got to celebrate with our partners and friends as we officially opened the doors to Creation Technologies–San Jose.

I had a lot of fun planning our Grand Opening and we had a really great day. It’s always wonderful to see our amazing customers, partners and friends!

Mayor of Milpitas Jose Esteves and Jennie Tran
What a pleasure it was to shake hands with the Mayor of Milpitas, Jose Esteves

It was also an honor to welcome Jose Esteves, Mayor of Milpitas, who awarded Creation the Key to the City, as well as First Sergeant Beckles and men from Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, Small Arms Readiness Group who made us proud when they raised our new flag for the first time.

Like the rest of the team here in California and the rest of the Creation family, I’m really excited about what comes next.

To read more about our Grand Opening and our President & CEO, Arthur Tymos’ take on the day, please read his blog post, Grand Opening of Creation Technologies San Jose.

Would you like to come and visit us in our new San Jose location? Please send me an email, we’d love to see you!

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