There are more greenhouses per square kilometre in southern Ontario than in any other region in North America. Realizing that all that product needs to be moved, Jackie Pickard founded Jakait Inc. in 2005. The company has grown revenues 145% over the last three years, with clients ranging from national produce marketers to individual family farms. That impressive performance earned Pickard the #2 spot on the 2015 PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 Ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs.
Jakait’s success is built on understanding its customers needs and a willingness to be flexible in pursuit of a sale. The company recently launched a new printing and manufacturing division, allowing it to add a second product line to its existing offerings. Pickard explained to Carol Toller why selling is about more than short-term profits.
If there’s one thing we focus on more than anything else, it’s customer service. We never just look at one sale—we look at the overall picture. I may lose money on one sale, but I know that by making that sale, I’ll make up for it in other ways. Maybe I’ll be picking up a new customer or keeping an old customer happy.
“To us, selling is more about relationship building. This is a commodity we’re talking about: My customers can’t wait two days. They need this stuff when they need it. They forecast as much as they can, but the weather and the sunshine can make a big difference. If they’re out of something, I will jump through hoops to get them their product.
“I was in the office on a recent Saturday—I try not to work on Saturdays, but sometimes you have to—and customers were calling me, saying, I need boxes now.’ So you see what’s on hand and somehow, some way, you get the boxes there.”