How Pajar Canada Is Adapting Its Old-School Values for Today’s Tech-Driven World

Pajar Canada is known for keeping people warm in boots, outerwear and accessories for more than 50 years. Now the family-owned business is adapting its old-school values to an ever-changing business climate that includes a focus on technology both product- and businesswise.

Here, president and CEO Jacques Golbert talks about steering an independent business while exploring opportunities on a global scale.

First job in the industry: 

“During my time at shoe school in Romans, France, my father had friends in  the business there. He got me a job as a salesperson and stock boy at a shoe store. Besides learning how to make patterns and lasts, I worked at the store on weekends with stock on the floor — a new concept in the 1970s.”

My leadership style:

“Participative and democratic. While most important final decisions rest with me and/or upper management, I value the input and opinions of all employees. It’s imperative for maintaining a constant creative and innovative environment, as well as high employee morale. My desk is in an open setting in the center of the office, where everyone walks by. My employees — some of whom have been with us for over 20 years — know I’m [always] accessible, so there’s no lag in solving daily challenges.”

My work regimen:

“Being one of the first to arrive at the office gives me a great head start on my day, to assess the challenges and think ahead to tomorrow.”

Most challenging part of my job:

“Finding the right ways to be an innovator in the industry. We strive to be  trendsetters who provide not only fashionable products and our true Canadian lifestyle but also the best manufacturing process to ensure we deliver outstanding performance, technology and comfort.”

Balancing a family business:

“My children know their strengths and roles. My eldest son, Michel, is excellent at the day-to-day management of employees and business relations. David is  personable and an exceptional salesperson, which makes him an excellent asset at trade shows and product presentations. My daughter, Elise, is the creative mind, full of innovative ideas and concepts, running the marketing department.”

Opportunity that got away:

“I like to think that in life, everything happens for a reason. I don’t want to look back on anything with regrets, because the truth is, every perceived failure in life is a learning experience. Don’t look back and wonder, ‘What if?’ Instead, look toward the future and ask yourself, ‘What did I learn from this?’”

Advice to the next generation entering the business:

“Recognize that although fashionable products can provide instant success, the secret to long-term success is to create a lasting brand reputation. A product shouldn’t simply be a trend. Create a name that’s synonymous with quality, comfort and innovation. Do whatever it takes to surround yourself with the right people to become a leader and trendsetter.”

Five-year business plan:

“Nourish our current relationships as well as implement the continued growth of our online platform. Our outerwear division has seen rapid growth from its inception just a few years ago. I’m excited to see the continued development of our brand  globally and adding new categories with cold-weather accessories, including bags, as well as widening our footprint with a new line of activewear.”

Biggest changes in the industry:

“The advancement in technology and prevalence of social media. Social media has created a world of fashion without borders. Bloggers and influencers can propel a small local brand into a big worldwide craze. We’ve had to rapidly adapt to new methods of engaging our audience, and in the last five years, we’ve gained  tremendous traction through our social media presence.”

Winding down:

“I love to play guitar, and our family gets together for dinner and sings along to some oldies but goodies.”

Preferred communication:

“My go-to channel is the phone because a written message can be misconstrued. A conversation is personal, and your tone is not open to interpretation.”

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