The Value of Meaningful Connections

Written by Snow Blackwood

An Interview with Gary Paquin, Versatile Wood Products, Business Development Manager

I sat down with Gary Paquin this week at our favorite spot near Versatile Wood Products, Broder Nord, to learn more about his background and where he’s headed with his work for Versatile. Gary and I started our talk with some of the marketing items I’ve been working with his team on—social media, overall marketing goals, campaign strategy—but as we got into our conversation I learned that being a Business Development Manager for a windows, doors and cabinetry manufacturing company is much more than just sales. And Gary is much more than just a salesman.

With a background in teaching, building, marketing and sales, Gary’s a bit of a jack of all trades, however what I see as Gary’s best skill is his ability to connect with others.

“I learned the value of networking and making meaningful connections during the recession of 2008. After being laid off from my job in trade sales with Rejuvenation, I knew I had enough of a community of supportive people in my life that I wouldn’t have to wait long for another opportunity.”

Gary Paquin

And wait long he didn’t. Before working for Rejuvenation, Gary had been working for McCoy Millwork in Outside Sales, and then as Sales Manager. When he became open for a job again, McCoy wanted him back. But this time in more of a marketing role instead of direct sales.

“I enjoyed being on a more creative side with managing marketing for McCoy and was working to develop consistency with their brand image. I put together client appreciation events and worked to develop their network by joining and supporting the organizations that made sense with their industry.”

When the job with Versatile came along, Gary had been working for Recology, a commercial trash and recycling company for 8 years.

“Versatile called at just the right time with an opportunity to join their team. I couldn’t wait to get back into the industry I’d started in and reconnect with old friends.”

Gary has been with Versatile for 9 months now and already he’s brought on several big projects, including his most exciting job so far, the “Raleigh Slabtown” job from R&H Construction.

“This is a big job and they went with us because we’re a local company and they believed in our work. We’re creating beautiful, modern storefronts with very large lift-and-slide wood doors for this, and the best part is they’ve planned far ahead so our production team can get a jump on it,” says Gary with a smile.

So what is it like being a Business Development Manager for Versatile Wood Products?

Number one, it’s a lot of outreach. Gary’s day consists of making phone calls, dropping into local building, architecture and design firms to give them the latest Versatile catalogs, and lately it’s been more traveling outside of Portland as they work to expand their market.

“I recently went to Canada for a big project that we’d be a perfect fit for. It was exciting to be up north, and there were other opportunities I was able to seek out while I was there.”

I ask Gary about dropping into businesses and if that’s intimidating at all.

“Most people are very receptive and many of them already know me as the build industry is really one big community.”

Number two, it’s preparing proposals.

“The proposals take a lot of time with this type of work. There are a lot of details and I like to make sure we’re transparent with everything. The level of detail in a custom project can be high, and we work to make sure our proposals are clear and complete.”

With a typical proposal, Gary will put together the line items needed and works with the Product Design team to get accurate pricing. He prides himself on preparing accurate proposals.

“Once the job is defined and signed, there may be an occasional change order at some point, but that’s also part of the process.”

What happens after a sale is closed?

“After making the connection and signing on with a new client, the job is given to Product Design. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, and whether we are working with an old building or new construction, the drafters may schedule a site measure before drafting. This process can take a week, or may take several weeks, depending on scope. Once submittals are approved, the project goes into production. Most jobs take 8-10 weeks to complete, though large commercial projects will move through in phases that may take several months.”

I learned the tricky balance of having enough staff on hand to complete the work as it comes and goes. The ebb and flow of this level of work is something that can’t be easy to stay on top of. But if there is one thing that does seem easy, it’s talking with Gary. I’m pleasantly surprised at how the interview this morning was more than an inspiring talk about the nuts and bolts of managing growth for a high-quality wood products workshop, it was a reminder on the value of meaningful connections with people.

“I like people and that seems to make this kind of work much easier,” Gary says with a chuckle.

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