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Building a Supportive Foundation

February 23, 2022
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Karyn Tremblay, Parts Supervisor - Val-d'Or

The right mentors can change everything.

Karyn Tremblay doesn’t just believe it; she lives it.

Karyn got her start in August 2007 in the Val-d’Or Branch as Parts representative.

“I was referred by someone who left the company shortly after, so I had to start learning on my own and finding people to help me out,” says Karyn. “I’m grateful for senior employees like Gaétan Ouellet and Pierre Larouche, who believed in me and helped every step of the way. They never made me feel that heavy equipment was too complicated or that it was a man’s job!”
Despite internal support, customers didn’t always follow suit. “In the beginning, I often heard that parts and warehouse attendees should be men,” says Karyn. “Customers were used to be served by men and they felt more confident.”

It didn’t stop her. “I had to work twice as hard and couldn’t make any mistakes,” says Karyn. “If I did, I knew the response would be ‘a woman in that job; of course, she doesn’t know what she is doing!’”

​​​​​​​Now, nearly 15 years later, she’s confident in all the systems. “Times have changed, and customers have evolved,” explains Karyn. “Plus, they know me now!”

While learning the technical aspects came naturally, relationship building and coaching wasn’t as easy. Karyn welcomed advice, goal setting, and every challenge that came her way. The commitment has paid off: she now manages a team of seven with her well-earned wisdom. “I strive to lead and coach my team so that these individuals can advance in the company, like I had the opportunity to do,” she says. “I encourage them to become more self-sufficient and research solutions on their own.”

Perhaps most inviting about Karyn’s leadership approach is her candidness: “I have to say my current approach is quite different from when I first started—when you’re new you tend to keep all the info and tips to yourself to protect your job,” she laughs. Today, that couldn’t be further from the truth. “When we make an exceptional sale, we work as a team and we share the credit,” she says. “I am happy for them when they succeed.”

Even with loads of technical experience behind her, Karyn is challenged more than ever. “We learn every day, be it new product lines or systems introduced by manufacturers,” she says. “Learning is the only way to grow and evolve.”

It’s not only parts and service— Karyn applauds SMS Equipment’s dedication to empowering women in the workplace. “We are on a very positive path,” she says. “More and more women can integrate into SMS equipment naturally…I don’t think we need to catalogue people. We have passed that stage. I think we should move forward in a work environment of people, period.”

Still, Karyn believes specific strengths are associated with each gender. “Women are more detail-oriented,” says Karyn. “They are thorough, they do their research and validate—they don’t just jump at the first possible answer. For instance, if someone asked for a water pump at the start of my career, I would open my parts book, locate the part, validate the model, and check every detail.”

Karyn uses that same approach when training new recruits today. “Our priority is to serve our customers so that leave here with a smile, happy to have come to SMS Equipment,” she says. “We’re known for the very high level of our customer service, our respectful attitude, and the spirit of our team. And for that, I’m proud.”
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