Scott Paquet: Working 8 Inc. | London, Ontario, Canada
How did you enter the lighting business?
From the time I was around five or six years old, I was interested in where my father [David] went each day dressed in a suit and tie. When I was about seven or eight years old, he gave me the privilege of seeing what he did each day first-hand by taking me along with him for the day when there were school holidays. His first rule was, “Don’t break anything!” I really enjoyed meeting all of the different people he’d visit and the friends he made and would tag along whenever I could. When I was 16 years old, my dad gave me car keys and a small territory (southwestern Ontario). It would take me a week-and-a-half to visit everyone. I was nervous at first, but I think any 16-year-old would be! I wanted to prove myself to these customers who basically had watched me grow up. Many of our customers are like family! My mother was fine with my career choice, as she encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do and would make me happy.
What have been the biggest changes in the industry that you’ve seen?
Products have changed a lot. I remember when LED was just beginning to catch on — it was expensive, and people were afraid to use it. There have also been changes in how showrooms go to market; I used to write massive orders [now orders are finalized later]. There has also been a lot of impact [on customers] from online sellers who are willing to eat the freight costs.
What advice from your father has played a part in your success?
I have learned so much from him! In a nutshell, he has taught me that if you put in the time, do your follow up, and actually do what you say you are going to do, you will be successful. He has shown me that there is a lot of opportunity out there [if you’re willing to look for it]. In addition to rep Nathaniel Mailloux – who now covers southwestern Ontario – our agency is also successful thanks to my mom, Judy, who heads up our customer service department.
What does the future hold for lighting sales agencies?
I set the bar really high over the next 5 to 10 years. I see us being the largest lighting agency in North America. I think that’s attainable at the rate we’ve been growing. We’ve really been working hard at it. While we had dabbled in plumbing and vanities previously and courted that market, two years ago we made the decision to focus more on the lighting showrooms and electrical distributors. We went all-in on lighting, and it’s probably the smartest decision we made. I think that the years 2020 and 2021 will continue to have growth, especially among those who are focused on the home automation category. As lighting reps, we can’t just drop catalogs off and be successful. Even in this digital age, we must go out to see customers regularly (for us, that’s every two to three weeks) and always answer our phones, even if it’s midnight. That’s what has made our agency more important to showrooms.