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President of Massilly North America leads Brantford-area business growth

Community ProfilePresident of Massilly North America leads Brantford-area business growth

Garnet Lasby has led the North American operations for Massilly, one of the premier global manufacturers of metal packaging machines for the food industry, from right here in Brantford.

Lasby, who has been with Massilly since 1996 said. “I’ve had the privilege of being associated with the Massilly group [when it] was a startup. It is a European company that entered North America, pretty much from scratch. And I joined shortly after that…it was really interesting taking a company that was very small and scaling it up to a reasonable size.”

After leading Massilly as President from 1998 to 2005, Lasby went on to lead his own tech start-up for 2 years and came back in late 2008, however, he was still part of the organization as a board member during that short time. “When I came back to Massilly, we were located in Mississauga; in a building that we did not own [and] where we were running out of room…we had to go and find a much larger facility [and] with that leap of faith…we moved into Branford and we’ve continually invested in new teams, new people, new skills, new technologies, and new equipment, all of which [have] allowed us to continue to scale the business to a much more significant size than it was when we started out on this on this journey.”

Lasby, who was instrumental in moving the Massilly North American operations from Mississauga to Brantford explained. “I looked at a number of facilities throughout the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) region [and] then the facility on Elgin Street [in Brantford] came up. At that point, I started to look seriously at Branford, and back around 2010/11 the economic development was starting to scale up in the area.”

Lasby then relates to changes in the local market. “The real estate landscape [has] really changed the labor landscape…and we’ve been able to react to that…with a fantastic, mature labor force and we’ve had the ability to really work on building our brand as a good employer. We [have] worked extremely hard at building a very safe [and] very respectful culture…where everybody knows that their time and effort is valued, and they are contributing to a cause somewhat greater than themselves.”

Massilly North America moved its North American operations from Mississauga to Brantford in 2009. It has since thrived in the area and recently built a 55,000 sqft warehouse facility to accommodate its growth. Photo courtesy Massilly North America.

Lasby continued, explaining the success of Massilly in Brantford. “The nice part of the Massilly Group is it is a privately held family-run multigenerational company still to this day. And they understand more than some public companies, the need for investment in the business to support future growth rather than investing after you’ve had the growth. We’ve continually reinvested in our production process [and] to make more parts [and] to make more closures, without increasing the headcount and the associated costs. We can make three times as many closures per hour as we could when we were operating back in Mississauga. Because we’ve invested an enormous amount of time, energy, and money in new equipment that will make parts faster, more efficiently, and with less material.”

However, along with settling successfully and expanding operations in Brantford, Lasby said the growth has been in due part to understanding the customer’s needs in regard to designing and creating specialized metal packaging machines. “We have a range that goes from very small, to very large to accommodate the different speeds that our customers need to run at…we make sure that we know what the requirements are…you’re looking at a multi-year design phase [which is] going to take 18 to 24 months, from the point where we decide to launch a new piece of equipment to meet a new need, and the availability of the design, at which point you then have to go and manufacture it. And because these are customized machines…manufacturing is not something that happens overnight. So, you have something that you can put out in the field and prototype and make sure that it’s going to function the way you want it to…We have machines in the field that have been out there for 30 to 40 years, and they run as well today as they did the day we put them in. So that’s the sort of robustness that we build into that knowing that our customers typically are using them over a long period of time.”

Massilly North America continues to be competitive in the marketplace by understanding client needs–building and designing customized metal packaging machines; some of which have been in use for decades. Photo courtesy Christine Wallace-Munro.

Nevertheless, Massilly North American operations in Brantford have seen significant growth in the last decade, so much so that investment in facility expansion has been vital. Lasby said. “We’ve had the privilege of adding a lot of new production equipment [and] expansion that requires more square footage for the production room. And inevitably, that starts to spill over into what was our warehouse… increasing the need for space.”

Lasby then noted the new warehouse facility just recently built. “We built out 55,000 square feet of new warehouse space, which has significantly more ceiling height than our existing building … .We’ve effectively doubled the amount of storage capacity that we have available.”

Along with investments in the physical aspects of the operations, Lasby explained how Massilly has taken pride in building a strong and positive presence within the Brantford and Brant County communities. “Back in the day when we moved [here], we both brought a number of our employees who relocated into the Brantford area…[there was an] opportunity to trade up in terms of real estate…schools, and infrastructure. And from that point, we’ve more than doubled our headcount.”

Lasby continued. ”We’ve also hired an enormous number of people in high-value long-term employment in our facility. We employ about 170 to 180 people, but if you actually do the math, you’re looking at hundreds of other people who supply us with [services] which [promote] the general economic activity.”

Massilly North America continues to be an active member of the Brantford and Brant Communities contributing with many donations including for the Brant United Way and for the Brant Community Healthcare System Foundation Hope for Healthcare campaign. Photo courtesy Christine Wallace-Munro.

Lasby, who has been dedicated to building strong ties with the Brantford community said. “We value being part of the Brantford community. We do our best to give back…the most obvious example is the emergency room [expansion] at the Brantford General Hospital [and being] a core supporter and sponsor by donating…at a company-level over $250,000 in the last three years for their holiday campaign…we do our best to give back in areas where we think it will benefit both our employees and the larger community.”

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