Automotive News Canada names Azzopardi one of the stars of 2019

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Windsor Star/Dave Waddell

Automotive News Canada has selected former Canadian Association of Mold Makers chair Jonathan Azzopardi as one of the all-stars of the Canadian auto industry for 2019.

Azzopardi, who is also president of Tecumseh’s Laval Tool, was recognized for his work over the past year on helping shift the automotive parts sector’s future vision to more non-traditional markets such as India and Brazil.

He also was involved in advising the Canadian government during the negotiations for a new NAFTA agreement and oversaw more partnerships under the CAMM umbrella with firms in the automation, parts and tool and die sectors.

“It was a nice surprise,” said Azzopardi, who stepped down as CAMM chair to become the organization’s director of international affairs.

“I might get the recognition as the face of CAMM, but I have a lot of great people behind me that deserve the credit.

“We don’t get paid (at CAMM), so when others recognize you’re making a difference there’s no salary that can give you that same feeling of satisfaction.”

In its profile of Azzopardi, the Automotive News Canada credited the 40-year-old with having the vision to see the big picture required for the future of automotive production in Canada.

“With Canada’s automotive manufacturing industry in decline, as GM shutters its Oshawa assembly plant, Ford scales down Oakville after discontinuing the Flex and FCA plans to cancel one of three shifts at Windsor Assembly, Azzopardi is leading Canada’s parts industry in a new direction by diversifying its customer base,” said Grace Macaluso, managing editor of the Automotive News Canada.

“In 2019, Azzopardi is at the forefront of a push to get his fellow parts suppliers to look to India, which is currently the world’s fourth-largest automotive market, but is poised to take the No. 3 position by 2021.

“Rising protectionism across the border means the auto sector has to reduce its dependence on the U.S. market. Azzopardi is ideally suited to helping parts suppliers thrive in a rapidly changing global industry.”

Azzopardi said the organization’s most important achievement in the last 12 months has been creating a profile and a voice for his membership in the industry and at the government levels.

“We are now the voice of small and medium-sized manufacturers,” Azzopardi said.

“We’ve figured out being silent, in the government’s eyes, meant you don’t exist.”

Azzopardi said in 2020 he plans to urge the government to create a more cohesive plan with industry to tap into India, Brazil, Europe and China.

“We’re not doing a great job promoting ourselves in other markets,” Azzopardi said. “We need better and new trade deals with markets other than the U.S.”

Azzopardi said 95 per cent of what his membership makes is exported with 75 per cent of that going to the U.S.

“That leaves us vulnerable,” said Azzopardi, who added CAMM representatives already have two trips booked to India along with jaunts to Brazil, Israel and Mexico.

“We need a good export plan and some government resources behind it.”

One CAMM proposal currently before the federal government is having a representative and office in India to represent Canadian automotive interests and allowing a similar set up for Indian business in Canada.

He also plans to encourage the federal government to do more to protect manufacturing from low-cost countries that subsidize their industries.

“The U.S. has put a 25 per cent tariff on all moulds coming out of China to protect their industry from practices that are illegal under WTO rules,” Azzopardi said.

“We also need to follow the lead of the U.S. and adjust our philosophy.”