MRO Magazine

Networking, education and information make PTDA Canadian Conference popular

By Bill Roebuck   

Industry Transportation

Ottawa, ON – More than 220 attendees representing nearly 70% of the Canadian distributor membership and several dozen manufacturer members of the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) convened in Ottawa June 2-4, 2011, for...

Ottawa, ON – More than 220 attendees representing nearly 70% of the Canadian distributor membership and several dozen manufacturer members of the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) convened in Ottawa June 2-4, 2011, for networking, education and industry information at the association’s 10th Annual Canadian Conference.

The event was launched with an Industry Showcase – a tabletop show for manufacturers to display and demonstrate their latest products.

In his opening keynote presentation, Dr. Peter Andersen of Andersen Economic Research Ltd., Toronto, forecasted a decade of instability and change, but was optimistic as he said “there are opportunities out there.” With so much idle cash on corporate balance sheets and equities priced below their fair market value, Andersen saw opportunities with investments in the developing world and in alternative energy sources such as natural gas.

What worried Andersen? The national debt problems of Greece and the United States, commodity inflation, and damage from the recession and how it will play when the next recession hits in 2014-2015 were at the top of his list.


According to PTDA’s Business Index, distribution and manufacturing companies in the power transmission/motion control industry are starting to hire. And, with the increase in hiring, current employees can be expected to test the waters to see what jobs are out there. A panel facilitated by Jos Sueters of Tsubaki of Canada discussed the challenges in employee recruitment and retention. Kevin Maynard of the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council led off the panel by providing attendees with resources for occupation statistics and standards, as well as some background on how people choose careers.

Maynard was followed by Ken Miko of PTDA distributor member BDI Inc., Cleveland, OH. Miko discussed the unique characteristics of the multiple generations currently in the workplace, asking: How do they think? What motivates them? Rounding out the panel was human resources expert Gerlinde Herrmann. Herrmann emphasized the need for all companies to identify and assess the risk of losing key people in their organizations – and steps they can take to retain them.

A staple on the program at the Canadian Conference is information on key customer markets. This year, the focus was on the Canadian railway and the Canadian government. Jay Nordenstrom of the Canadian Association of Railway Suppliers (CARS) delivered fascinating information on how to work with some of the top manufacturers of railway equipment. With major investments in infrastructure in the past few years, opportunities to grow business exist by supplying light rail and commuter rail manufacturers with essential components.

Andrè Cardinal of the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises, Public Works and Government Services Canada, provided attendees with tactical information about how to do business with the many agencies and programs affiliated with the Canadian government. Cardinal explained the types of arrangements the government makes with potential suppliers and discussed the process of how PTDA member companies can become approved suppliers.

Pierre Bouchard of General Bearing Service Inc., a PTDA distributor member headquartered in Ottawa, donated four books filled with stunning photos of Ottawa to four lucky drawing winners – Yoji Nagata of Koyo Canada, Richard Morgan of Baldor Electric, Pete Golding of SKF Canada and Angie Bisante of RBI Bearing.

Finally, Ken Wong of the Queen’s School of Business focused on branding and positioning a company to best demonstrate its value proposition. Using real-world examples, he discussed the intrinsic value that comes with having an established brand – and the premium price you can command because of your brand.

Wong emphasized that your brand must associate your product with a point of difference, an advantage because, as he pointed out, “No one will pay more for something they can get cheaper somewhere else.” He spoke about brand management driven by price, cost, market share and market size. And, he said, at the end of the day, your corporate structure has to support your brand strategy or it will fail.


To see many additional photographs from the conference, check out MRO Magazine’s online photo gallery at


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