INTERVIEW: MAUREEN POZNIAK, HINO TRUCK SALES (SASKATOON)
By Andrea Hansen
Photograph by Stuart Kasdorf
In talking to Maureen Pozniak, you’ll learn that entrepreneurship and joining the family business weren’t part of her original career plans. With an agriculture degree but limited job opportunities, she joined the business, Doepker Industrial, to help with sales. Over time, she saw the potential for growth. The business was already servicing Hino trucks, but Maureen and her brother helped their dad pursue the full Hino dealership and proved to him that they could take on responsibility for it.
Maureen is now general manager and co-owner, alongside her father and her husband, of Hino Truck Sales (Saskatoon), which has grown over its thirty-year history into a thriving full-service dealership. Maureen reflects on her career path and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
As co-owner and general manager of a family business in a male-dominated industry, what has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is gaining respect from all clients and people I meet in the industry. Now that I’m older, I’ve gained it through my knowledge base and strength in the business. Now that I have been around long enough – 17 years with the company – I have earned my place in the business. Some older gentlemen struggle to deal with me initially, until I can talk the talk with them. Then they realize, “Oh, she knows what she’s talking about” and I didn’t just show up today. Every sales meeting, I made sure I knew everything and 10% more than every man in that room. Men listen to you when you have earned their respect. Give it back. My goal at the end of the day is mutual respect.
What’s your greatest fear?
Being able to always get better at what we do. I know there is potential for growth…do I have the capability to continue to create growth? Do I have the capability to continue without my dad when he is ready to retire? Can I handle it all? My biggest fear is continuing to be successful and making right decisions as opportunities come along. The one thing I’ll never forget was learning to always be prepared to sell. Keep your options open, because that is good business.
What advice would you give to someone taking over ownership of an established family business?
Know what you are walking into. You have to want to do it! I wanted to do it. I love what I do every day. I enjoy my staff. I enjoy my clients. I love the challenge of my job every day. You have got to want to get out of bed and go to work every day. Communicate. Have a go-to person. Always have someone to talk to, because it’s not always easy.
First published in the March 2018 edition of The Business Advisor.