Young Leaders: Taylor Gerrie

Gerrie

November 13, 2018

On a regular basis, our publications profile members of our industry through their responses to a Q&A. It’s a way of recognizing industry movers and shakers, and helping our readers get to know them better. 

Recently we launched an initiative with Electro-Federation Canada’s Young Professionals Network to include profiles of up-and-coming leaders. We provided the list of questions below to Taylor Gerrie, Automation Account Specialist at Gerrie Electric Wholesale Ltd. in Burlington, Ontario. Here are Taylor’s responses.

1. Could you tell us where you are coming from, what drew you to this industry/business/company?

I grew up in Burlington, Ontario. I went to the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario for Business Administration, majoring in Finance. I worked in the summers at my family business, in the warehouse and on the counter. After I graduated, I was planning to start my career. However, my grandfather advised me to continue my education and take an electrical engineering course. Since I was already living in London, Ontario I enrolled in Fanshawe College, taking Electrical Engineering Technology. This was a 2-year accelerated course with an additional year for co-op working experience. I completed my co-op at Fanshawe focusing on research and development in photovoltaic technology. When I started my co-op, I planned to continue my R&D and did not plan to go into the family business. However, as time went on I missed the extensive human interaction that was prevalent at my company with colleagues, customers and vendors alike. After my third and final year at Fanshawe College, I graduated with honours and re-joined the workforce ready to contribute.

2. What impact would you like to have in your business?

The biggest impact that I want to have with my company is to have a direct impact on the growth of the company. I want to see massive growth in the company not just across Canada but across the world. I hope one day to compete on a level playing field as Amazon. I know this will take a lot of time and effort but I know with our people we can achieve that goal and reach that size while still retaining our family-oriented culture.

3. What decisions do you find are the most difficult to make?

I find the most difficult decisions I have made and continue to make are those that affect my customers. I tend to form a bond with them and I hate to disappoint. Most of these decisions are, in one way or another, related to pricing and it continues to be a challenging game even with the training I have received. It is a very precarious balance between aiding the growth of my customer and the growth of my family business. There are many people I want to make proud. That being said, I know that with my continuing experiences and mentors I will someday master this complicated game.

4. What is your biggest work-related challenge right now?

As of right now, my biggest work-related challenge so far is my involvement in the strategic planning of my company. Along with my family, we have undertaken projects that involve heavily with managing people. I have always been adept at working with customers and vendors but never so involved with the development and change of the entire company. I am working with the leaders of my company that are industry experts with decades more experience than me and it is somewhat intimidating.

5. What has been your greatest achievement so far?

My life is still in its caterpillar stage with many other achievements yet to come. At this point in time, my biggest work-related achievement was my graduation from Fanshawe College with honours as this was the period of time that I worked the hardest in my academic career. My biggest personal achievement is the marriage to my wife. She has always been there to support me. While I spent 12-14 hours per day at Fanshawe she never complained. She was always there when I needed and I know I could not have done it without her. Our expected daughter is the icing on the cake. Becoming a father will be my next greatest achievement by far.

6. What do you think is next for your industry?

It’s hard to say what is next for our industry. Since a large portion of our company is involved in the automotive sector, the steel tariffs imposed by the USA will definitely have a large impact. That being said, since our company is very diverse in other sectors this will not slow our company’s growth and maturity.

7. What industry development interests you the most? How do you see the industry benefiting from it?

The industry development that is of most interest to me is electric cars. Gasoline supplies are finite and will one day be depleted, while electricity is a small stepping stone to propelling, not just our industry, but our entire world into the future. With technology taking leaps and bounds at an exponential rate, the need for this technology will also grow at an exponential rate.

8. If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?

I have no idea how I would or could change the electrical industry, at least in how it operates. I love the culture and the people, including my competitors. Everyone is friendly and civil, and during the social events nothing stands in the way of friendship. If there were one thing I could change it would be to shift the focus towards renewable energies. There is not enough R&D being put towards the improvement of these technologies, and in my opinion they are the most important technological advancements that are yet to come.

9. Describe one way in which you effectively separate work from family and personal life?

This balance has always been a challenging concept as my family as well as myself are so connected to the family business. I have spent countless hours after closing continuing my work in the hopes of completion and every time I have been disappointed as there is always more work to be done. I have somewhat accepted the fact that there is not enough time in a day and shifted my focus to support my wife in preparation of our expected daughter. I have not mastered this art yet as others have, but with the support of my wife we will continue to strive for perfection.

10. Who has been a source of inspiration or a mentor to you?

There are many sources of inspiration for me and it could take days explore them all so I will only mention my two largest. First, of course, my mother, not just because she raised me and my sister by herself after my father passed away, but also because she has always been there for me when growing up. Any questions I had, she had an answer. Any advice I needed, she was there to offer her experiences. Any time I was lost, she would find me and put me on the right path. She may have been hard on me sometimes but I know I was not the easiest kid to control so it was all necessary to make sure I grew up with strong morals and etiquette. My other source of inspiration is my grandfather. In my younger days at our cottage he was always someone I looked up to as he was the first up in the morning and always working on small projects. He was diligent, meticulous and precise. He never cut corners. I have always thought and practiced, even today, “that the job isn’t finished until its finished.” He may not have quoted that but I know I get my work ethic from him. At electrical industry events that I have the honour of attending with him I have seen he is highly respected by everyone in the electrical industry and people would halt mid-conversation to exchange a few words with him. This soft-spoken man, wise beyond his years, was the single reason I continued my post-secondary education and attended Fanshawe. I am proud to be his legacy. Of course, I have so many others who have inspired me but I would not have been nearly as successful if were not for these two role models.

Interested in raising your own profile?

Contact Line Goyette, Managing Editor of CEW (linegoyette@kerrwil.comor Kim Quelch, President, EFC’s Young Professionals Network (kim.quelch@standardpro.com).

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