Owner and founder of Maslack Supply, John Maslack, had one vision for his life’s passion; to take the customer experience to a higher level. He believed that the customer should be the most important element of any business. It is with that vision and determination that Maslack Supply opened for business in 1959.
John Maslack started the business with a 760 square foot facility on Barrydowne Road with three employees. The Maslack group of companies has since grown to include12 locations across Ontario, with a 70,000 square foot warehouse and state-of-the-art Training Centre on Falconbridge Road, with over 200 dedicated employees across Ontario.
Q.What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
A. When I was younger, I never pictured becoming an entrepreneur. I worked in a variety of positions in the industry, from truck driver, to timekeeper and eventually General Manager of a local supply company. I saw a lot of potential for growth in the industry and I wanted to take that on independently. I wanted to work for myself. That’s when I decided to start Maslack Supply.
Q. What was it like getting started?
A. It was taking a huge risk. My first hire was only 16 years old, he was just a kid, and he had no experience. We had no money and only a small amount of parts. We had one delivery vehicle, a Bedford truck, and it was always breaking down. People thought I was crazy for quitting my job. But that first 16-year-old hire stayed with us for over 55 years.
Q.What is your most memorable experience in your 60+ years in business?
A. When we were starting out and still struggling, we landed a sale with National Steel, a mining company north of Capreol. Back then we sold tires, and it was a big order for us. We made a good profit from that tire order. That capital gave us the opportunity to get in the game and grow as a company. With that money we were able to grow our inventory and grow our sales and it was a domino effect from there. If it wasn’t for that order, who knows how much longer we would have been struggling for.
Q.To add to the last question, how did you land that order as a brand-new company?
A. I knew a fella working for National Steel at the time, he was a purchasing agent and we had a great relationship. He knew we were responsible, trustworthy and willing to work hard. That went a long way back then. I learnt very quickly how important it was to build strong relationships in the community, and that started with excellent and reliable customer service.
Q.Did you ever think Maslack Supply would grow into what it has today?
A. No. Never. We took it one day at a time. We didn’t know where we were going or when we were going. Our first branch outside of Sudbury was in Elliot Lake. We bought a piece of property there and we built another branch. Then we kept building.
Q. When you were hiring, what would you look for in an employee?
A. When we first started, hiring was a lot different than it is now. We never advertised any positions; people just came in asking for work. In the beginning none of the employees I hired had experience in the industry. We trained all of our staff for the skills they needed. I based it on gut feeling. If they had a good character, were hardworking and had a friendly demeanor, I trusted they would treat our customers right, which was the most important part.
Q. If you could go back and change anything, would you?
A. No. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Q. If there’s one piece of advice you could give to other entrepreneurs starting out, what would it be?
A. You have to love the business. You need to love what you’re doing and the hard work that comes with it. It helps to have some experience in the industry. You also need to dream about being successful. You need to have a vision and a goal in mind, and never stop working towards it.
Over the last 60+ years, Maslack Supply has been and continues to be proudly known as leaders in the distribution of Automotive, Industrial and Refinishing supply and solutions in every community that it is a part of. Through John Maslack’s exemplary leadership and service model, the company is committed to exceeding expectations by establishing valuable long-term relationships with all of its customers and vendors. For generations these values have laid the foundation of a trustful corporation and successful business. Maslack Supply will continue to strive for this special level of knowledge and connection with each of its customers for many years to come.