2018 Canadian Manager of the Year
Tailwind Systems has been selecting a Manager of the Year for nearly 2 decades. The criteria is simple; the award goes to the manager that we feel most understands the inner workings of running a drycleaning plant. It’s the manager that “gets it.” He/she “gets it” because they understand that running a drycleaning plant is dynamic. The one thing that is the same in every plant that I’ve worked in, in any country in the world, every state in the union, is that every plant is unique in its own way. That is that at every plant, there is something at every plant that has a particular nuance that Ive never seen before. This makes my job dynamic. But what about a manager or owner that has worked in his/her own plant for years? Must their job be dynamic? Is the manager ready, willing and able to adapt what they do to accommodate a new situation, a new volume level, a new competitor?
Every drycleaning plant – my opinion anyway – has had to reinvent itself over the past decade or so. The economy has changed and still is changing. In most cases, the piece counts have dropped measurably. So how does a plant adapt? How does a manager react?
It’s not easy. And it can even be depressing. A high volume plant becomes a not-so-busy plant. Or dare I say a high volume plant becomes a low volume plant? The key to profitability is adapting. Usually, when a busy plant loses volume, all of the employees remain and they should be working fewer hours. The problem is that they often do not. The staff, consciously or sub-consciously, pads the time clock and raises your labor cost significantly. The staff may even blame you and think to themselves “It’s a lot slower here than it used to be, and I don’t know why, but I work 7-3.” That mentality, if allowed to take hold, is deadly.
The economy is Calgary, Alberta has taken a hit over the past few years. It’s an oil town and with the price of oil lower than expected, Calgary pays the price. Given the need for dynamic management, and seeing it in real time at Fishman’s Personal Garment Care, the choice for the Canadian Manager of the Year is clearly Sheldon Fishman. I have been visiting Fishman’s for many years. During the time between my last two visits there, many changes took place. Piece counts are down, but management proved up for the challenge. When someone “moves your cheese”, its easy to Hem and Haw (read the book!) and wait for business to return to “normal.” But Sheldon did all of the right things. Rather than dragging his feet, Sheldon went about the business of transforming his generations old company into the new normal. It’s not an easy thing to do, but Sheldon “gets it” and is a very deserving recipient of Tailwind Systems’ Canadian Manager of the Year for 2018.
Sheldon has received a custom-made desk clock, a certificate of accomplishment and my undying respect. Please join me in congratulating Sheldon Fishman.