Learn about their career paths, greatest learnings and what they like best about being part of the Westburne team. Click on “See More” to read their stories
From left to right:
Ian Earle, Divisional Operations Manager, Westburne Midwest
Susan Ivorchuck, Divisional Operations Manager, Westburne Ontario
Todd Newell, Divisional Operations Manager, Westburne West
Lyne Turcot, Regional Operations Manager, Westburne Quebec
1. How did Westburne cross your career path? When, how...
I was approached by a head hunter in early 2014 for my current role (Divisional Operations Manager, Mid-West).
Shortly after graduating from Carleton with a BA, Economics in ‘98 I accepted a position with a small independent distributor to gain work experience. Through networking, I found Westburne. My first position was Operations Clerk, followed by Branch Operations Manager and Regional Operations Manager, to my current role as Divisional Operations Manager for Westburne Ontario.
I was looking for a career change after 14 years with a services organization. Eighteen months ago, I was presented with the opportunity to transition to Westburne, and get re-engaged in a totally new and different sector. So many people have been willing to take time to share knowledge, which has made the transition smooth.
A friend referred me. I entered for a 'temporary position'… I have now been here for 28 year.
2. What do you enjoy most about your role at Westburne?
I enjoy the people that I work with and the team atmosphere at Westburne.
The ability to assist other employees in their career success, along with improving processes for the efficiency of the business is what I enjoy most.
I enjoy that every day is a big learning opportunity for me. I came to Westburne with no experience in the electrical industry, and continue to learn so much from our internal teams, our vendors and our customers.
I like to share ideas with people. I like to provide training to broaden our knowledge. In providing training, I myself learn through them.
3. In your experience, what differentiates Westburne from other organizations?
The large number of Westburne branches across the country allows us to touch and service so many different customers and geographic areas.
The sense of community within the Westburne family is the biggest differentiator. Having my co-workers’ support and encouragement throughout the years has made the difference for me.
Westburne has an unrivaled size and scope, and amount of people talent which differentiates us from our competition.
My experience is limited to Westburne, because my previous field was totally different.
4. What has Westburne done for your career path and personal growth?
Westburne has broadened my overall sales knowledge. The contacts and relationships that I have developed since joining WB
I am very grateful for opportunities to be part of special project teams that enhance our customer service.
Westburne has instilled a new sense of engagement and excitement in me. Working in an organization with the reach of Westburne opens up doors and opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.
A few years ago, I was advised to enroll into a course to maximize my strengths. I signed up at HEC Montreal and completed a certificate in logistics and operations. I learned many things. I now see situations in a different perspective and can contribute to the solution. I am truly grateful that this company invested in my journey.
5. What is your best memory from your time at Westburne?
The completion of the Winnipeg warehouse reorganization project in 2014, and the benefits we have seen since then.
My best memory is receiving Westburne’s support to organize a Christmas hamper for a co-worker with terminal cancer to allow him to celebrate his last holiday with his only son.
My best memory with Westburne thus far is how well I was accepted into the organization when I came on-board. Every individual was quick to offer support, and share their experiences and knowledge with me.
Taking part of the new head office construction in 2013. I participated in all the different stages.
6. In your opinion, what is the recipe for success at Westburne?
Respect and align with our company culture, listen to employees and follow through on commitments made.
Being willing to learn all avenues of the business, and wanting to be a valued contributor through hard work and determination are the secrets of success at Westburne.
Entrust our people to be successful, and provide the tools and support they need.
That we all work towards the same goal: to serve our customers well and add value.
7. Tell me something your co-workers would be surprised to learn about you.
I am a music buff!
In my youth, I used to dance competitively (and I actually won a few competitions!).
My family and I try to travel as much as possible. We try and experience a few new cities every year.
I really like walking, and one day, I learned to love jogging. I did my 8th half marathon last September.
8. Thinking beyond your day job, what are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about staying current on national and global affairs.
Travel! I really enjoy exploring other cultures and visiting historic sites.
I am a huge sports fan; I enjoy playing and watching almost all sports.
I like to learn from people, and understand their way of life according to their origins, nationality and religion. Diversity makes our world.
9. What is something you’d like to learn, or are in the process of learning?
Our new Black Belt program (an ecommerce adoption initiative).
I am always open to learning anything that will expand my knowledge or improve my efficiency.
I would love to learn another language.
Understanding and expressing myself better in English is something I want to improve on (French is my first language). When it comes to my field of expertise, ever since I’ve started working at Westburne, I have been in the Operations and I do not see myself elsewhere. Operations are part of my life, and I always look to learn more, monitor progress and be on the lookout for new operational experiences.
10. Tell me about an event or person that has changed your day-to-day life for the better?
My Westburne hiring manager changed my life for the better because of his support in allowing me to expand my knowledge of the business. If it wasn’t for his mentoring and allowing me the opportunity to make decisions, I would not be where I am today in my career at Westburne.
My kids - they make you appreciate all the little things that easily get forgotten about as an adult.
My daughter; she’s an extraordinary young woman and makes me a better person every day.
11. What are your professional and personal resolutions for the upcoming year?
Pick up the phone more often to communicate and resolve issues, versus sending emails back and forth. Also, I’d like to get back into weekend golf with my family.
2016 has proven to be a challenging year for my Operations team. One long-term team member retired, and another team member accepted a great new opportunity within the organization. I plan to work closely and build the existing team for further operational excellence.
To be a better listener both at work and at home. It is amazing what you can learn when you stop and really listen to someone.
On a personal level: take care of my health. On a professional level: be more innovative and share my ideas with others (I am an introvert).
1. Tell us about your career path at Westburne?
Manvir Dhillon, Project Coordinator Westburne Ontario :
I graduated with a B.A. Hons from the University of Toronto in 2012. Shortly after graduating, I had the opportunity to join Westburne in a project management role. Although I was unfamiliar with project management, Westburne had faith in me and invested in my training as I learned all aspects of the electrical business. I continued to work hard to learn about our customers, find new ways to improve our services, build relationships across departments internally and reduce costs.
Steve Strauman, Divisional Wire & Cable Product Specialist Westburne Midwest :
My career started with Westburne back in July of 2012 when I was hired on as a Quotations Specialist. I stayed in this position until December of 2012 when I had applied for the job of Field Sales Representative for the Winnipeg Branch. I then moved to the Divisional Wire and Cable Product Specialist role in 2014. I have been in my current position since then and I am challenged every day. I currently handle various product families for the Midwest division and work closely with manufacturers and agents on a daily basis.
Sandra Sanchez, Renewable Energy Technical Support Specialist Westburne Canada :
I started working for Westburne in January 2015 after completing my masters in renewable energy at the École de technologies supérieur (ETS) in Montreal. It was a perfect position for me, since I already had a few years of experience with photovoltaic systems in my native country, Colombia. Also, I was working in the same field. I had no previous work experience in Canada, but Westburne welcomed me. I am now a national tech support specialist for the renewable energy line of products.
2. Tell us about an event that had a positive impact on your career at Westburne?
After working in Mississauga for over two years, my personal life led me to Hamilton. I was determined to stay with Westburne, but was looking for ways to shorten my daily commute. Management helped me find a solution, and I moved to the offices in Stoney Creek. Westburne’s willingness to relocate me emphasized how they put their people first and work hard to reward loyalty and results.
The one event that stands out for me that had a positive impact was when I left Westburne for a few months to work for a competitor; you quickly find out that the grass is not always greener on the other side. When I was welcomed back to the Westburne team it was like I had never left, this was a great feeling and made me realize that this is the company that I will retire with.
It’s not really an event, but more a series of opportunities with Westburne that helped me develop my knowledge. For example, trainings in the US, participating in conferences and congresses. Westburne invests in my professional development, and this has a tremendous positive impact on me.
3. What has been your greatest learning at Westburne?
As I encounter new challenges in my role, Westburne provides me with the tools and guidance to overcome them whilst continually fostering my potential. For example, while working on one of Westburne’s largest P3 commercial project, I was enrolled in NAED, a program that provides extensive knowledge about the electrical distribution industry. Coming from a non-electrical background, this course has been the biggest learning curve for me.
I wouldn’t say it was one learning experience that has impacted me the greatest with my time at Westburne, it has been ongoing. I literally learn new things about my positon and the company every day, There is vast amount of knowledge within the people that work at Westburne and the more you ask the more you get to know!
Each day is a new opportunity to learn. When I started, my knowledge was concentrated on batteries and photovoltaic systems. Today, I also know about wind turbines, charging stations and cable protection. I have also developed my communication and customer service skills. I consider myself lucky to develop not only my technical knowledge, but also my soft skills and my professional relationships.
4. What do you like the most here?
Westburne has a true “customer first” culture. When our customers are successful, we are successful. It is the best feeling in the world when we rally together to get win-win results with each other for our customers.
Number 1; the people! Everyone that works at Westburne comes to work every day it doesn’t matter how the day is going, they are always willing to help and solve problems when it comes to customer and other staff. Number 2; the opportunity for advancement within a growing company, knowing that if you want to take on a new challenge within the company in a different part of the country you have the chance to do so.
What I like the most is the trust the company, my boss and my colleagues show me. My opinions and my decisions are always respected and valued. It gives me the confidence to look for new solutions for our customers that go above and beyond the industry standards: innovative solutions that meet their needs.
5. What advice would you give someone starting their career at Westburne?
Put in the time to get to know your co-workers because they are fantastic collaborators and are always looking to provide a helping hand. In addition, ensure you learn as much as you can about our customers’ needs and stay focused on keeping costs down, engaging in teamwork and driving results – you cannot go wrong!
The advice I would give someone just starting out at Westburne would be to work hard, ask questions, and let people know what you are thinking. If you are interested in a specific position within the company apply for it, hard work pays off. Westburne is a great company with many avenues for you to expand your knowledge and further your career.
I would recommend everyone to make the most of all the opportunities Westburne has to offer. Give your maximum and Westburne will do the same. Opportunities to develop your own potential are numerous. It’s the perfect company to have a long term career.
Michael Cunningham, from our West division, recently hosted a barbecue at his home for our Fort McMurray employees. Here is what he has to say about Westburne throughout the Fort Mac events…
“I cannot thank you enough for the overwhelming support from Westburne & Rexel for our Ft Mac team. The support that has been given is above and beyond anyone’s expectations and truly touches my heart. Even with the homes and personal belongings that were lost our team has been strong throughout. Friendships have been created and the bonds in the branch, the district, and the whole company are stronger than ever. I am more proud than ever to be a part of such a wonderful organization that looks after its family in times of need. Thank you”
Kelly Lobello’s life at Westburne began 15 years ago when his two best friends told him Westburne was a great place to work, with plenty of opportunity to move up. Kelly was sold.
Starting in 2001 as a picker at Calgary Main Branch, Kelly loved the physicality of his new job – walking, squatting and stretching all day! But the best part of all was the warehouse team Kelly worked with, who helped each other get the job done and truly exemplified team work.
When a Branch Shipping role came up, Kelly jumped at it. He had the opportunity to show off his “OCD skills” and took pride in it.
“I’d pack the Red Deer, Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge crates so well that they almost looked like pieces of art that you just didn’t want to see taken apart,” Kelly says. “I would shrink wrap the branch skids so well that you could crash the forklift into them and they wouldn’t tip or fall apart.”
It didn’t take long for Kelly’s curiosity to take over when it came to the product he was handling each day. With a desire to know more, Kelly started talking to the counter staff and soon, any free time they had was spent walking around the warehouse, learning about products and their application. Needless to say, Kelly was intrigued and asked his boss if he could help at the counter when time permitted – his boss said yes. Soon, Kelly knew all the regular customers by name, took on a full time role at the counter, and later became the Saturday counter crew manager – officially making the counter his “baby”.
“I’ll tell you one thing, the counter is no cake walk, but I was totally down for the challenge,” Kelly says. “After a couple months there, I was killing it!”
Kelly’s passion showed, even coming in on Sundays to make sure the counter and showroom were ready for the Monday rush. Whether he realized it or not, Kelly was just preparing for his next endeavor. Kelly took full advantage of every learning opportunity sent his way – attending lunch-and-learns, and even Rockwell training sessions. Aside from gaining knowledge, Kelly made connections at training sessions with other Westburne staff from across Alberta; connections that to this day, still help make his job easier.
When an Inside Sales role came up, Kelly knew he was the guy for the job. To be a successful Inside Sales group, teamwork is a must, and Kelly’s team had it. Operating more like family than co-workers, Kelly and the team would do whatever necessary to help each other succeed.
“We would do part number quizzes, disguise our voices and call one another on our breaks from the lunch room and pretend to be customers,” Kelly says. “It was awesome, and it totally increased our product knowledge, especially the Industrial product which intrigued me most of the products we sold.”
Kelly soon became the go-to guy for all Industrial calls that came through Calgary Main. Acknowledging his knack for all-things Industrial, his supervisor decided to create a role just for Kelly - Inside Industrial Sales Rep.
“Bam! That was one of the best things that’s happened to me,” Kelly says, “I started to deal with the main Industrial Contractors, large Panel Shops, and OEM’s.”
In 2007, an opening for an outside Industrial Account Manager at Calgary Foothills branch was posted. Kelly applied, and ignored any doubts as to whether he was ready or not. His mind was made up and he was going to make that job his own.
For the last 8 years, Kelly has done just that. Despite market fluctuations, the loss of team members, and the personal toll of the job, Kelly credits his success to his mentors, like first boss Mark Hill, the inside sales teams, warehouse staff, and specialists across Alberta, our suppliers and especially, our customers.
“A few weeks ago I attended a training session at the Main Branch, put on by Chris Mealin; in that session he mentioned Teamwork,” Kelly says, “Teamwork is the key to success.”
“This is what we should focus on today, in a time when the market is in turmoil and the future is uncertain. This is the time where everyone will see that as a team, we can make it through anything.”
On October 16th,2015 the Winnipeg Hub achieved 1 year without any Lost Time Accidents. From this group, we also celebrated Scott’s 5 year anniversary and Dave Arbour’s 10th year anniversary.
“The Montreal HUB team is truly outstanding. For a few months now, they’ve all had to adapt to new ways of doing things; new procedures, new requirements and new challenges.
To put all of these changes in place, we were fully relying on their experience and knowledge. They not only delivered – but they also gave great feedback.
They are now taking responsibility in making sure these changes are viable and beneficial for our customers and company.
They are 100% committed to customer’s satisfaction and ensure that our operations are profitable too. Whenever I have a question, I simply ask it and I get the answer. I am very proud to be part of this team and every single member of this team should be proud of it too”.(Yves wanted to mention the names of team members Gaetan, Sonny and Maxime who were unfortunately unavailable when this team photo was taken).
Yves Beaudoin, Logistic Manager
Roy Hannah has worked at Westburne Abbotsford for 35 years. In that time, Roy has seen many changes and through it all, remained a dedicated, and key member of our team. We count on Roy’s leadership skills and experience to build engagement, not only with the team in Abbotsford, but as an example of best practices across Westburne West.
Angie Schwan, BC Regional Operations Manager says, “A key part of our success is knowing what works - figuring out how our key people are working this to our customer’s benefit, and then sharing it elsewhere.”
From Warehouse and Counter Staff, to Inside Sales and Outside Account Managers, Roy ensures that the whole team is engaged in a Customer Service-focused model, and that the customer’s needs are always at the forefront of every interaction. Roy is proof that being truly here to help is the recipe for 35 years of success.
Rick is an Inside Sales representative at Westburne Oshawa. For Rick, Inside Sales is about understanding your customer’s needs. Rick believes in doing his best to ensure that his customers can be successful doing what they do. He works hard to make the customer experience with Westburne the best it can be.
"I’ve always done my very best to take care of all my customer’s needs, even when that means pulling rabbits out of our hats!"
Tavis is a Westburne E-Business Specialist. That’s marketing-speak that means Tavis can help our customers use westburne.ca to make their business operations more efficient.
Tavis is a smart guy and he can talk a lot about Westburne.ca. But what Tavis does best is listen. Most days Tavis is on the phone or visiting customers, listening for ways to improve the Westburne.ca experience. If customers need help reviewing their online purchases or even just launching a web browser, Tavis is happy to lend a hand. He’s here to help.