By Simon Lapierre
Sometimes, the school transportation industry can seem like it’s frozen in time. But, the reality is that this is a fast-growing industry with lots to offer. Look no further than up-and-comers (like me) who are hard at work to ensure the ongoing success of Quebec’s leading businesses like Girardin.
Following in my father’s footsteps, sort of
My father had a long, successful career working as an electrician at Hydro-Québec for 30 years. He loved what he did for a living. I found his path inspiring, but I must admit, his wasn’t the life for me—I never saw myself working a steady job in a dull office. But, as it turns out, the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree, and when it came time to enter the workforce, I enrolled in an Automated Systems Electromechanics course. This specialized program taught me the fundamentals of electricity, mechanics, machining techniques, PLC programming, pneumatics and so on. It opened doors for me as soon as I entered the job market. That’s when I knew I had made the right choice.
My first job in the field
When I started, I worked as an electric motor mechanic in internal motor restoration. This is a highly sought-after, specialized skill set that only a handful of people province-wide had mastered, myself included. Not to brag, but I felt confident in my abilities. I knew all the ins and outs of repairing electric motors, so this role was relatively straightforward. While I did enjoy my job at the time and felt incredibly appreciated by my peers and supervisors, I found myself craving something more. I wanted human contact and to develop relationships with people. It’s hard to forge meaningful connections with engines.
Moving up in the world
In 2019, I finally landed a roadside assistance representative role for an electrical distributor. I soon realized that a sales associate position was where I needed to be because I found what I was looking for: the human touch. I worked with hundreds of customers, many of whom were electrical contractors. I was a quick learner and gained so much from working on residential, commercial, or industrial projects. I thoroughly enjoyed this role, and I guess it showed because soon after, I was named representative of the year in only my second year. When you love what you do, it’s obvious. This experience gave me a solid understanding of the realities of entrepreneurs, the challenges they face, and their expectations in terms of solutions and advice. It helped me prepare for future roles as well.
A sudden but welcome change
One day, my girlfriend’s colleague shared that her husband was looking to hire a sales associate for electric buses. I was intrigued. My wife quickly put us in touch and, after meeting with the sales manager, I knew that this job was a perfect fit for me. It had everything I wanted: Electric engines that I understood, the opportunity to head out on the road, an open-minded boss, and only a 10-minute commute? I couldn’t sign the dotted line quickly enough.
Learning to serve customers- better
My Girardin career began in January of 2022. Although my sales associate role is precisely what I was looking for — and because I have an in-depth knowledge of electromechanics — here, I still feel as if I have much to learn. But I’m so fortunate to have colleagues who are ready and willing to share their expertise with me. I’m grateful to be working alongside people who have been in this business for years who know the product and customers intimately. It’s an excellent opportunity for me to learn and grow. I’ve noticed a Girardin way of doing things, a philosophy that helps the company consistently maintain its leadership position. Knowing the mechanics is only part of it—the company encourages you to serve customers better by responding to their needs and concerns.
My position as a sales associate at Girardin is the right fit. Girardin’s personal touch, excellence in the industry, and focus on clients to deliver concrete solutions set it apart. I’m surrounded by experienced colleagues who guide me, mentor me, and challenge me daily so that one day I’ll be as adept as they are. Best of all, my knowledge of electrical mechanics and my background in sales enables me to provide my clients with added value, particularly when it comes to school bus electrification. My journey is only beginning, and I’m so excited to see where it’s headed next.