Moving the World Forward

Headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, MHI Canada Aerospace, Inc. (MHICA), a group company of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, is a Tier 1 manufacturer of major aircraft structures and assemblies.

MHICA’s facilities include a state-of-the-art manufacture and assembly facility and a supply chain and logistics centre where more than 850 highly-skilled employees are working on Bombardier’s sector-leading Global 5000/5500/6000/6500 and Challenger 350 business aircrafts. MHICA’s technicians build and join wing assemblies and fuselage centre sections, as well as perform systems and flight assembly installations and testing.

In April 2019, Janet Wardle became CEO and President of MHI Canada, where she started out as Director of Supply Chain and then Vice President/ General Manager. Wardle herself exemplifies what many people in MHI Canada describe as an exemplary working culture that fosters success from within.

“MHICA is like no other place I’ve worked,” says Wardle. “And what makes us most successful is our employees. No matter how cliché that sounds, in 25 years, I have never been in an organization where that is always the standard.”

Wardle says it’s the MHICA team that makes all the difference. “At MHICA, my main priority is having the kind of people that live our values—are motivated, highly engaged, innovative, collaborative and accountable. So, of course, another priority is to protect our team and ensure we always maintain our values. This is done through great hiring practices, always seeking out people that are hard-working, dependable and humble. Taking ownership of ensuring that we are fostering this is vital to our growth and sustainability.”

The aerospace industry went through some significant shifts in its workforce in 2018. Due to the loss of employees, MHICA brought over 125 apprentices, and built a training facility and developed a program to help accelerate the training of mechanics. “Having such a mix of experience and apprentices took a lot of perseverance for all team members,” says Wardle. “Ensuring everyone understands the situation and what the end goal is, we were able to rise above the change and become a stronger team.”

In the last four years, however, MHICA has transferred in over 100 jobs from another site in Japan. “We could not have done this without our parent company’s support, but we cannot minimize the efforts of our Canadian partners — suppliers and schools alike, that helped us get here,” says Wardle. As the norm, Canada does not see the transfer of jobs from Japan. Still, says Wardle, with the help of so many of these partners, MHICA was able to take advantage of its celebrated aerospace experience in Canada, going back to the Avro Arrow and continuing with Bombardier and DeHavilland.

“Currently MHICA has expanded the aerospace industry in North America by bringing the supply chain from Japan and transferring the build of the GX 5000/6000 models as well as the Challenger 350 to North America,” explains Scott Cutts, Director of Operations. “We have expanded the build for the GX 5000/6000 to build all of the wings and also the centerfuse build in Canada. All of these packages were previously built in Japan.”

A cornerstone of MHICA’s culture is encouraging an empowered work environment, and Wardle does not shy away from demonstrating an appreciation for her MHICA team.

“Fostering MHICA’s working environment is easy,” she smiles. “For me, it means making myself accessible to everyone. Walking through the plant and taking the time to talk with people, or even just saying good morning. They know that I have their backs and that I’m committed to maintaining a great working environment that is here for the long haul. We hold each other accountable but also understand that everyone is unique. Embracing that diversity helps everyone work collaboratively.”

Wardle can sometimes be found talking to engineers or employees on the assembly jigs. A company-wide weekly newsletter is sent out that more often than not underlines a working-together theme, always towards the same goal—ensuring that, as Wardle puts it, “everyone understands that our mission is to provide value to our customers and to put quality and safety in the sky, and how their role supports that mission.”

Jenna Stringer is the Team Lead of the Human Resources department, having started out in the internship program over seven years ago. “MHICA has a very exciting and fast-paced work atmosphere. We are always working together as a team to continuously improve our business. Although we are a large company, we have a strong family-oriented culture.”

Going forward, 2020 has been designated as the year of sustainability at MHICA. The company just moved its warehouse into a new building that will have energy-efficient lighting, a compactor in place and full review of its waste-reduction plan.

“MHI has always been a strategic focused company and always pushing to the future,” says Cutts. “MHICA has been a great place to work and continues to have opportunities for myself as well as everyone who works at MHICA. I feel there are not many companies within the world that people get to stay there till they are ready to retire and I am lucky to say I feel I have the opportunity to stay at MHICA till I am ready to retire.”