enLIGHTenment Magazine’s business contributor Mark Okun travels with second-generation lighting sales representative Scott Paquet of Working 8 in Canada.
In`the days of the connected consumer and all things digital, what inspires a member of the Millennial community to follow in their father’s path and start their own sales agency? This was the first question I asked Scott Paquet when I spent two days on the road with this savvy go-getter from the Great White North.
Scott is a member of the much-maligned Millennial generation. Membership in this group often conjures up the image of fidgeting, self-absorbed, impatient youth who want to begin at the top; however, Scott turns those assumptions into myths.
Scott grew up with an extraordinary interest in what his father, David, did to support their family and was intrigued by it. Some of his childhood memories are of his father leaving the house early in the morning before Scott was ready for school and then returning later in the evening. He wondered what his dad was doing all day long.
By the time Scott was seven years old, he was introduced to the life of a lighting sales representative when his dad took him along on some sales calls so he could experience first-hand what a lighting rep did all day.
Whether he knew it or not, the rules of being a “junior” sales rep were being taught to Scott that day. He learned to be polite, speak only when spoken to, and not touch what is not yours because if you break it, you buy it. The essential lesson Scott learned that day was how to sit back and watch how people interact with one another.
Scott said, “After that one day with my dad, I knew I wanted to grow up to be like him. I wanted to be in sales.” From that point on, young Scott would shadow his father at every opportunity to learn how to be a decisive factor in the sales industry.
One of the things David wanted his son to learn about was the overlapping skills a sales rep needs when building connected relationships with all types of people. And while attending a trade show is a requirement when you are a sales rep, it’s not very typical for a 12-year-old boy. Through the graciousness of several of David’s customers and his proud encouragement, Scott was given a chance to talk with potential clients, creating relationships while representing his father’s companies at several trade shows.
He was such a success that if Scott was not at a show he had previously attended, the vendors and customers wanted to know where the talented, personable young man was.
The next year, when it was time for Scott to leave the original trade show he had visited and go back to school, he created a petition for his teachers signed by customers and vendors requesting that he be able to continue to work the show instead of going back to school. That was some creative salesmanship on his part!
This display of acceptance from both clients and vendors added more fuel to Scott’s fire and interest in all things related to the sales profession ─ so much so that 10 years later, he had created a blazing inferno.
When vendors took a shot with 20-year-old Scott and gave him a chance to be a sales representative, they set his expectations low. Although he was told to just maintain the status quo, this young man could not be bridled. He exceeded all of their expectations by growing his territory by 55 percent on average in his first year. Scott feels it is all due to his instilled work ethic and fire to succeed.
Two years later the father/son working relationship has changed a bit. At 22 years old, Scott continues to lead his agency and represent some great companies in the lighting industry and David has taken on a consultative role, providing wisdom, mentorship, and grounding as well as serving as a sounding board for his son.
I asked David what he admires most about his son as well as what he has learned from him. His answers reveal both the proud dad and seasoned member of the lighting industry that he is. While his list of Scott’s attributes includes tenacity, responsibility, and being conscientious, the stand-out is Scott’s ability to communicate with confidence to all of the people he interacts with, at every station in his clients’ business.
The admiration goes both ways. One of the traits that Scott admires about his father is his work ethic ─ and it is this characteristic he will always try to emulate. “My dad puts as much time, heart, and effort into what he does for the manufacturer’s he represents as he does with our family,” Scott told me. “My father is one of the hardest working and professional people I know, and I will always look up to him for that.”
The day starts early for Scott, sometimes before dawn. He says it is a habit typical of growing up in a family that lives and loves hockey.
As our day together evolved, I was able to observe Scott working with his clients and found that his actions matched his words. He performed – and most importantly has been accepted – as a consultative partner with each showroom we visited. He contributes to each business and is acknowledged as a respected member of each showroom’s team. They listen to him as their discussions and goals become a two-way street to the same destination.
On one of our stops, Scott worked with a showroom manager whose store is currently undergoing a complete and extensive remodel. Scott contributed to the design input, suggesting strategic placement that would benefit the showroom, the vendor, and the ultimate end-user.
Whether the showrooms we visited were big or small, Scott was always respected and appreciated for the various roles he plays at each. Some of the lessons in cooperative teamwork and self-motivation were learned by Scott at a young age on the ice rink and have since become fundamental in his career.
My take-away from riding with Scott and meeting his father David is that their family unit is tight; it has also played a significant influence on the agency Scott founded.
“Scott has taught me not to give up,” David added. “Everything happens for a reason and to keep going through all the tough times and turn them into a positive result.”
I also learned that Scott’s drive and his inspiration not only come from his father, but from his 27-year-old brother as well. Adam was stricken with meningitis as a baby and has had over 40 surgeries on his brain, which unfortunately caused a loss of mobility in his right arm and leg. Nevertheless, Adam possesses that same drive and determination that his younger brother, Scott, has, leading Adam to participate in the Special Olympics in the sports of golf, baseball, bocce, and bowling. Representing Ontario in the Provincial Special Olympics in golf over the past four years, Adam won a Silver medal in 2017. In addition, he plays ice hockey with the George Bray Sports Association, which has also become a family event as both David and Scott coach separate teams in the league.
As a life-long witness of Adam’s positive attitude and motivation to overcome the obstacles life places in your way, Scott has adopted the same principle of striving to do everything to the best of your ability. Scott’s passion for his business, his family – including his dog Buddy – and his industry partners is clearly apparent.
I asked Scott about his goals for 2018, especially as a digital native and a young man with an entrepreneurial spirit. He responded that the best way to increase his territory’s productivity is through organic growth, by increasing his face-to-face engagement with his partnered showrooms. With an increasing desire to become even more valuable to his clients, Scott is also working towards completing the CLMR accreditation from the American Lighting Association (ALA).
The name of Scott’s agency — Working 8 – is such an uncommon name that it piqued my interest. Scott told me he was inspired by the classic Beatles song “8 Days a Week.” Given the emotion and passion that Scott brings with him to his work, his family, and the people he meets, the lyrics certainly fit: “Ain’t got nothing but love, babe…eight days a week.”