Maxime Poirier, 31
Purchasing and Logistics Manager, Polykar Inc.
Maxime Poirier has been with the Polykar Inc. family since 2016 — he uses "family" because that is "the type of camaraderie and relationship that our team has" — and was originally an account officer for the Saint-Laurent, Quebec-based flexible packaging maker from 2016-18.
"Polykar was my first job in the flexible packaging industry," Poirier said. "When I first heard about Polykar, it was clear that they believed that a sustainable world is a collective responsibility. They do a great job promoting innovation and growth in the industry. This was important for me as I continue to be a firm believer that plastics is not the problem. Waste is the problem."
Poirier earned his bachelor's degree in accounting in 2016 from the University of Quebec in Montreal.
"I jumped on the opportunity to continue to learn and evolve within the company by taking on a new challenge serving as purchasing and logistics manager from 2018 to present," he said. "From crunching numbers to ordering materials and making sure goods are shipped and delivered on time have given me an all-around understanding of the dynamics in the industry. This opportunity was brought forth to me when Amir Karim took over the role of CEO."
Polykar qualified as an essential business and remained open during the pandemic lockdown, when many other businesses had to shut down. Poirier said its supply chain performed well and the company experienced few disruptions or restrictions to receiving required raw materials.
"Directly linked to my daily tasks, I would say I'm proud that I made sure we always had supplies and never had to shut down lines because of raw material shortage," he said. "Our janitorial and sanitation products provide vital supplies to hospitals, clinics, essential stores and elder care homes to maintain a hygienic environment. Our food-approved packaging is critical to deliver food safely on the shelves during this period."
But now the supply chain is a big challenge. Some materials are up to five times longer to procure and it requires a new business model when it comes to establishing needs and relationships with customers at the other end, he said.
"Polykar is a forward-thinking company that is growing. We are currently working on implementing an ERP and automating lines. These two projects are very interesting and we realize there is an infinite number of ways to improve processes in a company. By being part of the ERP implementation core team at Polykar, this has helped me track all the materials in real time, which means I do not overorder or miss out on a material that is running out," he said. "That is crucial in order for me to succeed in my role. Work smarter, not harder."
Q: What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Poirier: In a company that is focused on growth and expansion, it's amazing to see just how important Purchasing & Logistics truly is in the manufacturing industry. Early in my new role, I once made a decision to refuse a truckload because it arrived later than expected and our employees were supposed to end their shift. My decision was overturned by our executive team and rightfully so. This taught me a valuable lesson in thinking about the bigger picture, not just about the task at hand, and I am a better manager for it. Since then, I have gained more on-the-job experience.
Q: What associations do you belong to or actively participate in?
Poirier: I deal with Operation Clean Sweep, which is an organization that is part of CIAC [Chemistry Industry Association of Canada] and takes care of making sure there are no resin spills going in the environment. It is important for our industry to lead and be an example to all consumers. The environment suffers from actions individuals take with plastics. Being part of OCS means we believe in sustainability and preserving the environment by improving our processes and making sure zero waste starts here.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Poirier: Amir Karim (CEO at Polykar) is the person who showed me how to approach my job. He hired me when I did not have the experience to be in that position, and he made sure to show me and provide me the tools to succeed.
Allan Wood (chief operating officer at Polykar) played a major role in me taking steps forward and advancing in my career. Allan made sure to always keep an eye on what I'm doing and be present to give me precious advice when needed.