It all began in Montreal North, Canada. Raised by a single mom in one of the toughest neighbourhoods in the city dominated by gangs, drugs and violence, I pushed myself to make the right choices and to keep moving forward, no matter what. I learned to observe carefully and to think one step ahead; that’s when I started to do things differently and to always think outside of the box
I knew that I could do anything if I put my mind to it!
MY FIRST VENTURE
When I was 17, I noticed my teammates drinking Powerade, which got me to thinking. I researched what drinks were on the market and noticed that they were all very high in sugar, without offering many benefits. A lightbulb went off: I saw an opportunity and decided to invent the first sugar-free, zero-calorie energy drink called Reload. This was long before Redbull.
This was long before Redbull!
I MADE IT HAPPEN
Once I had the idea, I didn’t wait for anyone to make it happen. I called two of my friends, filled them in on the plan and invited them to join the venture. Then I headed down to Chinatown, bought some herbs and ingredients, and set off on my journey. I tested my final product in a laboratory to improve the recipe. After a year in development, I had a tangible product ready to market. I knocked on a few doors; thanks to my enthusiasm and pitch savvy, Couche Tard, one of Canada’s biggest chains, picked up my product. In less than a year, Reload was a top seller, 3rd highest in Canada. At this time, I was approached by investors to acquire my company.
I decided it was time to move on to the next opportunity life would bring.
I GOT RECRUITED
Soon after the deal closed, I was recruited by PepsiCo to join their sales and marketing team. Over the next years, I gained solid business knowledge and skills as a member of a large multinational corporation. This enriching experience shaped me.
It opened my eyes as to how to look at business on a larger scale.
I CREATED MY DREAM LIFESTYLE
At a certain point, I realized that I had learned everything I could from PepsiCo and shifted my focus to the music industry. I loved the lifestyle, the effect music has on people, and mostly, the music itself. I play the piano and used to make music videos for fun with my friends when we were teenagers. I decided that this was what I wanted, so I created the lifestyle I had always dreamed of. It wasn’t easy, but I didn’t give up.
I created a music label (Puzzlesrecords) and a production company (4brosstudio); signed artists, wrote and produced songs, collaborated with major labels, and expanded my business network. Looking back, I’m proud to have overcome all of the obstacles the music industry threw at me.
Never give up, you never know what can happen!
I WAS SHOCKED
In 2014, I was approached by a well-established Montreal businessman who wanted my help to revitalize his manufacturing company, Gould Industries, with a view to eventually buy it out. He knew I was creative and hardworking, and that nothing could stop me from achieving any goals. He needed a fresh, innovative perspective for his company, but mostly he wanted to establish a succession strategy. Gould Industries was the first waste management manufacturer in Montreal but never had the resources to expand and grow their portfolio of products and clients. This proposition shocked me and it took me few weeks, even months, to analyze this opportunity. I was basically asked to leave everything I had built, leave the glamorous music industry to become, from what I thought at that time, just a manufacturer of garbage bags…. Not so glamorous anymore! I then reminded myself that I could do anything if I put my mind to it.
I made a plan, visualized the role I wanted and started this life-changing journey.
WATCH & LEARN
For the first two years, I watched and learned. I knew nothing about the waste management industry, plus the company culture was going to be a challenge. My less-than-traditional approach was going to shake up the team, many of whom had worked there for over 25 years. After all, “if it ain’t broke, why fix it”? That said, “without change there is no growth, and without growth, there is no success.” After the first two years, I felt it was time to do what I do best, that is, to think outside the box.
My goal was to transform this small Canadian business into a large corporation and expand its product portfolio.
I started by sharing my vision with everyone: People Always First. That’s the most important, because no business can succeed without the buy-in of the employees and the customers. Gould Industries had to become a next-generation manufacturer by changing the way it treated its workers and clients. To do so, I created a narrative where employees were part of the change and not just actors in the plan; I made them co-creators. The first step was to offer more flexibility and autonomy to our employees: no more mandatory 40-hour workweek and more leadership opportunities for everyone. Then, I created a workplace that people were excited to work and gather the communities together. I partnered with the artist collective En Masse and repainted all the factory walls, creating the largest art mural in Canada. I was inspired by the Winewood district in Miami. I wanted Gould Industries to be a landmark in its community and that was the best way to do it.
Workers are proud to work in a creative, artistic environment that is recognized in the city.
INVEST IN PEOPLE
I’ve also revisited the salaries to keep up with inflation and created a school program to make sure that the families of our team members can have access to school. I offer an annual $100,000 scholarship every year to an employee; 2022 was the fourth year of the program. In addition, I’ve invested in management tools and throughout the year we participate in team building activities and social contributions.
As a team, we give back to the community by participating in local charities, such as working in a soup kitchen once a year.
ALWAYS IMPROVE YOUR PRODUCTS
During this company culture transformation, I also took care of the customers by opening a research and development division to create new product lines; by offering quality products at a better value; by developing environmentally-friendly products. I’m proud to say that we recycle 25 million kilograms or more of plastic annually.
We are an industry leader when it comes to making the world a greener and cleaner place and having a direct impact on the long-term future of the environment.
Gould Industries has a portfolio of over 1 500 products in the waste management sector as well as in the beauty and personal care industry. In 2022, Gould Industries was rated as large corporation in Canada. All I can say is: Mission Accomplished! When I look back, I remember how my first feeling was limited to being a manufacturer and how my mindset of making it something big was essential to get where I am today.
The mindset, the tools, the experiences, the enthusiasm, the hard work and the ability to identify opportunities are what it takes to make everything happen.
MY NEXT CHAPTER
Today, I feel like I need to share all my knowledge with as many entrepreneurs as possible and give everyone all the chances to succeed in business. I started to expand my investor portfolio few years ago and that is where I wish to concentrate my time and energy. Through my private funding programs for start-ups and businesses, my sponsorships to social causes or through my inspiring and educational content, I aim to positively change the path of all entrepreneurs.
This is my new journey and I’m 100% in!