“There’s no such word as can’t.”
This has been the mantra of Terry Nevins, the winner of the 2015 Canadian Office Products Association (COPA) Individual Award of Excellence. Terry learned this important piece of advice as a summer student, while he was working for a sightseeing boat tour company on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. When pulling ropes, boarding passengers, and steering the boat for Paul’s Boat Lines as a young man, Terry was faced with overwhelming tasks, but by following the advice of the company’s owner, Terry found success in life and business that would position him for excellence over his 40-year career in the Canadian office products industry.
Terry joined TOPS Office Products (then known as Alan Thompson and Associates) in Oshawa, Ontario in 1976, in his first role in the industry as a sales person. Within nine years, Terry was a full partner in the company, driving sales and marketing initiatives, but ultimately left to work for Canadian Independent Stationers (now Office Plus) to become the general manager and marketing director.
He joined Global Total Office in 1988 as its director of marketing, until becoming the company’s vice-president of national accounts marketing in 2004. Spending 26 years with the same company is an anomaly to some, but for Terry, it was an easy decision, thanks to the company’s philosophy.
“Global’s founder Saul Feldberg had a vision to relentlessly grow his company’s market share, and he empowered his management group by allowing them to for the most part, act as individual entrepreneurs,” says Terry. “What a great way to spend 26 years: being an entrepreneur while being able to avail the many critical mass resources a large corporation can provide.”
Terry says being able to build his own Global team was a fulfilling part of his experience with the company. He surrounded himself with smart co-workers and a mutual respect helped everyone to grow professionally. One of the most satisfying parts of his career was seeing the staff he trained take on leadership roles with humble respect.
When he entered the office products industry, Terry had many mentors who enjoyed successful careers, but with the introduction of the office personal computer and the related supplies and furniture required to go with it, Terry was able to play an active role as the industry went through a major shift.
“Global became the right place to be as the industry reinvented itself many times over the last 40 years,” says Terry. “I was part of that reinvention, driving change and creating products and delivering marketing programs to fit the needs of the day. It was very exciting and satisfying.”
The office products industry continues to reinvent itself. While it is difficult to predict exactly what office environments will look like in five or 10 years, Terry says there are a few givens; people will always require digital or physical writing instruments, coffee, and places to sit and work. Thinking like your customer and moving with technology trends are important aspects for success in the office of the future.
“You need to be aware of all technologies and how they will impact your own market niche and your own personal life,” says Terry. “These technology revolutions will become evolutions and the office products industry is best at evolutions — evolving product categories.”
In his retirement, Terry enjoys family events with his three children and four grandchildren and spending time at the cottage with his wife of 43 years, Peggy. Terry rides his motorcycle during the warm months and enjoys snowmobiling in the cold ones, and he stays on top of digital changes in the marketplace, which helps with his role volunteering for the COPA Data Factory.
Terry says an important part of growing his personal skills and professional network came through his membership to COPA, and his role with Global allowed him to gather advice from coast to coast with stakeholders throughout the industry. From his family to his colleagues, Terry shares his thanks and success with many.
“Thank you to everyone who made my career so enjoyable,” says Terry. “Yes, there were challenges and the not-so-good days—but there weren’t too many of those. There are so many genuine people who I had the pleasure of meeting with, working with, sharing ideas with, learning from, enjoying a meal—and maybe a beverage or two—with,” he laughs. “This award represents all of that input, which I was able to put to ‘excellent’ use. Thank you to everyone who contributed to my search for excellence!”
Terry will be accepting this award at the COPA Stars Gala. To attend, or for more information, please click here.