Thunder Bay

Bombardier must shape up to avoid tumbling like 'house of cards,' says expert

Bombardier will have to step up its game, and fast, if it wants to hold onto its Metrolinx order, and secure future contracts, says one business expert.

Business experts say failure to deliver for the TTC and Metrolinx would spell bad news for Thunder Bay plant

Metrolinx has filed a notice of intent to cancel a light rail contract with Bombardier, worth over $700 million. (Metrolinx)

Bombardier will have to step up its game, and fast, if it wants to hold onto its Metrolinx order, and secure future contracts, says one business expert.

Last week, Metrolinx filed a notice of intent to cancel a light rail contract with the beleaguered company, which in recent years has fallen far behind in its delivery of vehicles under another contract with the TTC. 

That doesn't mean that the contract will be cancelled, but it does send a serious warning to Bombardier, said William Mitchell, a professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. 

"I really, deeply hope that Bombardier is treating this as much more than just normal negotiations that will be resolved," he said. 

"Metrolinx is under real pressure to deliver on time," Mitchell said. "If it has concerns that Bombardier won't be able to keep up its part of the game, then it makes sense for it to say 'we need to look for somebody else.'"  

Bombardier can win back the trust of customers if it manages to fix its supply chain problems, said William Mitchell, a professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. (Rotman School of Management)

Metrolinx is the provincial agency that oversees transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.

Bombardier must find a better way to manage it's supply chain to speed up production, Mitchell said. Otherwise, there will be consequences for the company, including for workers at its plant in Thunder Bay, Ont. 

"If Bombardier can't get contracts, it can't employ people," he said. "If Bombardier can't deliver ... it's not going to get the contracts and it's going to be a house of cards that comes tumbling down."  

Time for 'actions, actions, actions'

There is still time for Bombardier to turn things around, but in order to do so, the company will have to start delivering the goods, said Marvin Ryder, a professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University. 

The 'pressure is on' Bombardier's new president to start making changes, said Marvin Ryder, who teaches at the Degroote School of Business at McMaster University. (Marvin Ryder)

"Right now ... it's not about verbal reassurances," he said. It's about "actions, actions, actions."

"The more you start showing people that you really can fulfill orders on a timely basis with good quality, the more you're going to win customers back," Ryder said.

"I am hopeful, I really am hopeful that this is just a temporary session that [Bombardier is] going through and not a sign of things to come," he said. 

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