Building Relationships For the Future

mhi canadaBy Cheryl Long

The future is bright for MHI Canada Aerospace, says president Mike McCarthy. Not only is there a clear sense of pride among the organization’s employees but the company itself is poised to grow substantially within its sector.

MHI Canada Aerospace, located in Mississauga, ON, is part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and operates as a Tier 1 heavy aerostructures manufacturing site and group company, reporting to the Commercial Aviation and Transportation Systems Domain. The company’s team of highly-skilled employees is responsible for the manufacture and delivery of the Bombardier Challenger 350 wing and the Global 5000/6000 wing and centre fuselage section.

“Every visitor to our factory walks away with a strong impression and an image of what a high-energy operation looks like,” McCarthy said. “You can tell our team loves their work. This continues to be our number one advantage.”

There are other advantages as well. MHI Canada Aerospace is one of only a few heavy aerostructures Tier 1 suppliers with demonstrated capability in Canada, McCarthy said, which allows them to explore and engage in opportunities to diversify with other commercial aerospace original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Then there’s the chance to get involved in the wide variety of aerostructure businesses where MHI Canada Aerospace could act as a catalyst for a “build-in-country Canadian aerospace strategy,” he added.

Business incorporated in 2006
It’s a bit of a leap from the company’s early days when a group of local independent contractors established a working party to help Bombardier with the final completion of products manufactured and shipped from Japan. In 2006, the group incorporated as a business in Ontario and the following year, they moved into a 90,000-square-foot facility in Mississauga and became responsible for the final assembly work on product supplied by MHI Japan prior to its delivery to Bombardier. That same year, work increased as the Challenger 300 wing assembly was transferred to Canada.

In 2012, MHI tripled its space when it acquired a 270,000-square-foot facility, triggering the transfer of the Global 5000/6000 wing assembly to Mississauga. They also took on local parts fabrication for both the Challenger and Global wings and, the next year, opened a supply chain and logistics centre.

McCarthy joined MHI Canada Aerospace in April 2013 as Vice President, Operations, bringing extensive experience in the aerospace industry. “I began my career in the aerospace industry with McDonnell Douglas Canada in 1977 as a mechanic,” he explained. Eventually, he took on the role of Director, Operations through a merger with The Boeing Company. His knowledge of aerospace manufacturing is extensive and includes experience working on a wide range of aircraft such as the MD-11, the F-18, the B717 and the 737 platforms, among others. Just a year after joining MHI, he moved into the position of President.

2016: an award and an anniversary
Last year, as the company celebrated its 10th anniversary, McCarthy was named the Mississauga Board of Trade’s Business Person of the Year. It was a pinnacle moment for someone determined to build on the city’s rich aerospace history and carry on the legacy of companies like Victory Aircraft, AV-Roe, McDonnell Douglas and Boeing Toronto.

“What means the most to me winning the award was drawing attention and putting a spotlight on MHI Canada Aerospace and the hard-working team I work with every day,” he said. “They are a terrific group of people that deserve it!”

The relationship that McCarthy and his leadership team have built with more than 650 employees is the secret to the company’s strong foundation. It hasn’t been enough just to access, develop and retain the best possible talent. Fostering a healthy, collaborative culture with a team that is fully engaged has helped MHI reach its current level of success in just 10 years.

“Never take for granted the importance of company culture and employee engagement. You get the workforce you deserve,” McCarthy emphasized.

Strong relationships across the industry
The same holds true for relationships with the parent company, the industry, supplier partners, academia and the various levels of government. “What we have accomplished could never be done on our own. It’s the strength of our relationships and the commitment of everyone working towards a common goal that has us positioned to play a larger role in the North American aerospace industry.”

The confidence that MHI’s parent company has shown in its Canadian facility is another source of pride. It spoke volumes when MHI Japan’s executive team handed over the reins to a local Canadian who would lead the company’s transformation, McCarthy said. “Right up to Mr. Hideaki Omiya, MHI Chairman of the Board, they have continually demonstrated this confidence, allowing me the autonomy to execute in line with MHI in Japan and providing me with the highest level of support to grow the business.”

As MHI Canada Aerospace heads into a future filled with promise, there’s an understanding that maintaining their competitive edge is going to be imperative.

“We need to stay in front of the curve, seeking opportunities and executing on continuous improvement and innovation and advanced manufacturing processes,” McCarthy explained. “We need to offer OEMs something better or unique.”