On March 25, using the theme “Japanese concepts and cultural change,” the management of Bridgestone’s Joliette plant opened its factory doors for the first time ever to close to 40 small and medium-sized Quebec businesses. The companies enthusiastically responded to an invitation by the Ministre des Finances, de l’Economie et de la Recherche du Gouvernement du Qubec (MFER) to benefit from the experience and know-how of this world-class business. During the half-day workshop and visit, Bridgestone Joliette plant management, union leaders, and about 50 employees welcomed the heads of Quebec businesses. Sharing their experience and best business practices, the hosts demonstrated the spirit of partnership and collaboration that exists at the heart of their business. “I was very impressed by the enthusiasm and involvement that both management and employees showed during this visit. The quality of projects relating to value-added production that were presented was only matched by the employees’ energy and generosity,” said Andr Roy, a value- added production and Kaizen advisor for the Direction de dveloppement des entreprises et des affaires, Mission Industrie et Commerce, MFER. At the core of this workshop and visit, one could see the new person-centred culture that has been dominant in Joliette for three years, a product of corporate and union teamwork. Everything – from process revision, application of workplace health and safety norms, and ongoing training – has been reviewed to meet the highest possible standards. While some talk about Kaizen and other Japanese motivational techniques, the Joliette factory has made it a way of life. “Within any innovative implementation program, there is a clear reliance on employee participation and communication as key elements towards reducing resistance to change and encouraging the achievement of goals when facing the immense challenges of a world-class industry,” said Yves Malouin, General Manager of the Joliette plant. “I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished together. I’m convinced that we’re becoming a model for the industry and that we’ll continue to distinguish ourselves in the future.” Of the 11 Bridgestone tire manufacturing plants in North America, the Joliette facility is the only one based in Canada. Inaugurated in October 1966, the factory has manufactured over 92 million tires for automobile manufacturers and consumers. Since Bridgestone’s acquisition of Firestone in 1989, the corporation has invested more than CAN$350 million in the Joliette facility. With a surface area of over 1 million square feet (95 000 square metres), the plant employs more than 1275 people and produces 16 000 tires daily, 90% of them for export.