On September 3, 2013 the Supply Chain & Logistics Association of Canada (SCL) and the Purchasing Management Association of Canada officially merged to become the Supply Chain Management Association (SCMA). Representing nearly 8000 members working in all facets of the supply chain, SCMA is the country's principle source for education, training, professional development and networking in the field.

Supply Chain & Logistics Association Canada's (SCL) mission is two-fold; to provide its members with numerous benefits focusing on developing their skills in the supply chain sector; and to bring members' and non members' attention to the importance of logistics activities in business and in the economy as a whole.

“A weakness in Canada is that many companies do not have a supply chain strategy that is aligned with their overall corporate strategy,” says President Bob Armstrong, underlining the fact that SCL believes this promotion of awareness is key. “Whether they’re a small, medium or large business, they really need to develop a supply chain strategy that complements their company’s overall business strategy.”

Working Together

As well as shedding light on the importance of these operations and practices, SLC encourages communication between all sectors involved in supply chain and logistics. “These companies need the ability to integrate their supply chain, which includes all their customers, their suppliers, they carriers, and their other service suppliers,” says Armstrong. “They need to be able to link them all together to be able to walk and talk on the same page.”

With the economic recession affecting many of their members, SCL also supports proactive planning to maintain consistency and efficient output. Armstrong says, “[These companies] need to know how to quickly react to natural disasters and disruptions in the supply chain, meaning they can have an agile, reliable, cost-effective supply chain.” Managing risks and opportunities across the supply chain is necessary to avoid potential setbacks in an industry that is already taking hits as a result of the slowly recovering economy.   

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Focus on Education

Effective communication and increased awareness naturally support SCL’s goals as it strives to place a particular weight on education. “We are a pillar organization in the Canada Supply Chain Sector Council,” says Armstrong, “so we keep an emphasis on education.”

Moving forward in 2012, Armstrong says they plan to make students a priority. “We’re really focusing on students,” he says. “They are our future.”

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Partnering with Schulich School of Business at York University, Schulich offers 3-day courses in supply chain logistics management, as well as a Master’s certificate in supply chain management. The Master’s certification program is made up of 11 modules and covers topics ranging from a strategic overview of the sector, operational topics and leadership, to change management topics. This certification may be appealing, Armstrong says, when a company is looking to promote an employee to the position of Vice President of Supply Chain, for example.

Although student memberships have been an integral part of SCL’s membership, a student track at their upcoming annual conference will be introduced this year, facilitating dialogue among students and their peers, as well as with industry leaders.

SCL Member Services

Providing more than continuing education courses and programs, SCL offers members online services, and events held by local chapters, among other benefits. Networking and professional development is encouraged through facility tours and a national event series; members have access to the quarterly Supply Chain & Logistics Journal and monthly E-News to learn about current news in the market; and focused research initiatives include benchmarking performance to see how well they are performing compared to their competitors.

This all-inclusive approach is appealing to members. “We tend to be the leader in the field and networking, research, education. We’re that place supply chain people can come to network,” says Armstrong.

Strength in Numbers

Streamlining and improving their services is resulting in an expansion of SCL’s members and scope, highlighted by the annual conference. The long-standing conference, now in its 45th year, is a dynamic industry event that will be held May 8-9 in Toronto, and features peer-to-peer forums concentrating on educational, practical content. A record number of attendees, over 1,500, participated last year and the event is expected to bring in an even higher number this year.

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