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Summary of our chat with this AV expert, who rose through the ranks of the company and discovered a passion for transportation, which directly influence the lives of the users.
Q: Jonathan, thank you for meeting with us. Here’s a simple question to start: Who is Jonathan Henri?
JH: I have always been an audiovisual enthusiast. When I was young, I wanted a disco ball, or old speakers I found at yard sales. I had no amp and no lighting for the disco ball, but I liked the gear. When we had school trips to see plays or shows, I only had eyes for the technical team. When I started high school, I had been waiting for years to be able to enroll in stage technical activities. Aside from most little guys’ dream of becoming a police officer, I’d be lying to say I’ve touched anything else. For me, it has always been AV.
Before I got to Solotech, I have picked, rolled, and cleaned wires, I was a sound technician, I dabbled in electricity, I was a lighting designer in bars, I worked in electronic stores, and I studied business at CEGEP du Vieux-Montréal, which allowed me to work on CÉGEP’s show productions.
I then started to work in an AV store, where I realized there was a market for installs. I started designing and installing the systems we sold at the store. I then joined Solotech and have been here for the last 5 years.
Q: What is your specialty?
JH: I have a more technical than sales-based approach. Do I have a born salesperson in me? No. Am I passionate? Yes. I think that is where my sales success comes from. I believe my clients are reassured to see that I have mastered what I offer them.
Q: You are the Global Market Leader for transportation. What does it involve?
JH: Every Solotech office has its specialties. In Nashville, they are super strong in the House of Worship market. In Florida, our offices are great with amusement parks. In Québec, Solotech must have around 90% of the market shares in terms of transportation. The Global Market Leaders Program identifies resource persons for each market.
Some markets change from place to place, such as education. We don’t manage business opportunities in the same way at McGill, Oxford, or Harvard. On the other hand, it does not change when it comes to transportation. If you fly from Montreal in the morning, when you land at Charles-De Gaulle in Paris, the standards, the laws, and protocols have not changed. It is the same principle in rail transport, public transport, etc.
My role is to take advantage of our different internal tools: procurement, legal, marketing, etc. It’s to take Solotech’s corporate services and establish strategies to increase Solotech’s market shares in our other offices by responding to calls for tenders, doing canvassing, going to see clients, expanding our products portfolio, by introducing new technologies that we did not use before, but which, in certain regions, are more appropriate. We set up contracts and partnerships to be able to break into this market.
Q: Where does this connection between transportation and you come from?
JH: It all started at Solotech. When I started, Solotech was already heavily involved in transportation. We were well-positioned. The people who managed this market moved on to other roles and I took over some of their accounts. I discovered new technologies and new ways of working, and I found a notion of importance.
I like to serve people directly. In transportation, we do two things: first, information communication, which is super important. When you are at the airport, you want to know which gate to go to, and where your luggage is. At the bus stop, you want to know how long the bus will take to get to you, and if it is the right route.
Above all, we do emergency communication. If there is a fire alarm, if we need to evacuate, or on the contrary, if we need to trigger a lockdown, our systems can communicate these messages. It spoke to me. In our job, we often say that we don’t save lives. But in transportation, our systems can save lives! That is what spoke to me. What we do matters because it serves a primary need: everyone’s safety.
Q: What is the best part about your job?
JH: The best feeling is probably going to see an install. When you think about your project, you win the contract, and you empower your team to make it happen. A year or two later, you go on-site, and you are in the environment you had imagined. It’s fun to go to the end of things like that.
Q: What is the difference between Solotech and its competitors?
JH: The individuals. The team at Solotech. The people at Solotech are skilled and love what they do. It shows in a project. Having a team that is interested, dynamic, and takes ownership of a project changes everything.
Solotech’s management team is very solid, and it shows too. A company that has solid, established leadership flows all the way down the ladder. We have excellent leaders.
Q: What do you see in Solotech’s future?
JH: From my side, there will be lots of development in the transportation market. I see Solotech investing in hiring and training the next transportation experts. We are going to take what we do well in Quebec right now and expand it globally. I would like us to be able to put Solotech’s name on big airport projects in the United States, or a high-speed train in Europe.