My Heroes

Kevin Marois

This month Fabricare Canada salutes the Canadian Industry person of the year. This
is a fantastic way to appreciate those who support our industry. Congratulations to
Carlos Fernandes.

All of us have had people who helped us. I want to acknowledge some of the people who have contributed to my development over the years. I first started working in the dry cleaning business 40 years ago.

I worked for my uncle, Henry Todd. He had two Todd Cleaners plants in Edmonton. He always hired expert advice – whether it was accountants, lawyers or even technicians when needed. He also had an expression, “You have to spend money to make money.” I learned a lot about managing a business from him.

Brian Hatt

Over the years many dry cleaning salesmen came to our plant. I asked lots of
questions. They helped solidify my knowledge in the industry. Wayne Freeland from
Streets patiently answered all my questions. He did many seminars. When Wayne
Freeland retired, he was replaced by Brain Hatt. Brian and I have had a lot of
conversations over the years.

Another source of training was my staff. They had many more years’ experience than I did, so I would often ask for their recommendations. When I didn’t understand, I would ask them to explain things again. From pressing to stain removal to machine operation, they taught me a lot.

Hector Marois

I can’t talk about mentors without mentioning my dad, Hector Marois. I can remember watching dad soldering cast iron pipes using lead and oakum. Over the years we threaded pipes, ran wires and repaired machines that we had never taken apart before. Dad taught me how to fix many things, but the biggest thing I learned from dad was how to lead people.

Notice I didn’t say how to manage people. Dad always led by example. If a job needed to be done, he was as likely to be doing the work as watching someone else doing it. Dad was always a servant-leader. He didn’t ask anyone to do something that he wasn’t willing to do himself. And he is great at remembering people’s names. Even now dad remember people’s names and when he saw them last. That is one
thing I still have to learn how to do.

One great source of knowledge right now is our customers who are working hard on their businesses and are willing to share what they learn. They try things and are willing share the experience with us. We also get a lot of help from the sales reps that we deal with. They are a great source of knowledge. There isn’t a week goes by that I don’t call one of them with a questions.

Shot of two business women working together with laptop in the office.

But to turn things around a little, who are you learning from and who are you teaching? Are you giving back to our industry? Are you afraid to share your secrets? We need to spend more time training our staff. Someone has said, “What if I train them and they leave?” I would say, what if you don’t train them and they stay? If you invest in your people and give them a good place to work, they will most likely stay.
And even if some of them leave, you know that you have helped improve our industry.

Our commitment is to have knowledgeable staff who are a resource to our customers. All of our staff (other than Paula) have worked in dry cleaning plants. They know your pain and want to help. I want you to think about who you are mentoring and training. Are you giving back to our industry? It is a good industry but we need to work together through these difficult times. If you share knowledge with someone, maybe they will share some with you. Together we can change the public’s perception of our industry.

Kevin Marois founded Calgary-based Integrity Mechanical in 2003 to service plants
in western Canada. He writes on issues related to equipment, its purchase,
maintenance and use. You can reach Kevin at or via his website

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