Canadian Music Trade - February / March 2020 | Page 18

Faces JESSICA LEMIEUX By Andrew King W hen Jessica Lemieux entered the workforce at 18, she took a job in sales. When she later enrolled in college, it was to study sales and market- ing. She’s sold cell phones at Future Shop, appliances at The Bay, even furnaces and air conditioners for a myriad of customers. But while she always enjoyed the sales process – and got quite good at – the right fit at the right company seemed to elude her. Then, in 2013, she decided on a whim to apply for a position at Levy’s Leath- ers’ Winnipeg office. “I just happened to respond to a small ad that [founder] Dennis Levy put in the newspaper; I had no idea Levy’s existed until then,” Lemieux tells Canadian Music Trade. “I love music and have always loved everything about music, so being a part of the industry seemed like a great opportunity. It was definitely the best sales job I ever had – way better than selling air conditioners [laughs]!” She joined the company in an inside sales capacity and was soon thriving. That led to a string of promotions that culminat- ed in her appointment as Canadian country manager for Levy’s Leathers’ Music and Outdoor divisions in late 2019. “Levy’s has always felt like family, and Gator Cases is the same,” she says about her employer and, as of 2018, its parent company. “Gator is very family-oriented – family-owned and family-run. Everybody gets along and it makes it so great to go to work.” In her new role as Canadian country manager, there’s no such thing as a “typical day.” “It’s a little bit of everything,” she says with a chuckle before listing off some of that day’s agenda. “I’m working regularly on projects with our key accounts, coordi- nating with our sales teams, getting orders sorted… And I still get to make some sales calls myself, which is nice. I like getting to speak with clients I’ve worked with since the beginning. It’s great to get to catch up, hear 18 CANADIAN MUSIC TRADE how they’re doing, and find out how we can help them.” She’s also on the road relatively frequent- ly these days. Right after The 2020 NAMM Show, she was en route to another trade event in late January, and had another in the days following her interview with CMT in early February. That’s in addition to regular visits with key accounts across the country on a year-round basis. “It’s a lot of airplanes, but I don’t mind airplane food,” she jokes, emphasizing her easygoing demeanor. She and her team at Levy’s are current- ly riding high after a strong showing at NAMM. “As always, it was an amazing show for us. Loud, but great. We had a lot of our clients out this year, which was awesome, did record sales again, and even won Best in Show for our innovative Strap Packs,” she proudly enthuses. “I especially love NAMM because the days are so busy and exciting, but then you get out in the evening with people you spend all this time with on the phone and get to know them better.” The annual show is also emblematic of the passion she sees throughout the musical products community. “Getting to see all the people behind the music is such a highlight. A musician doesn’t play without a guitar or a set of drums. These things have to be creat- ed, and I love how everyone comes together and shows off their best – the things they’re obviously passionate about that help people make music.” While Levy’s Leathers has moved the ma- jority of its operations to its manufacturing fa- cility in Antigonish, NS, Lemieux works from home just outside of Winnipeg, where she was born, and not too far from the adjacent small town where she grew up. She and her fiancée live on a five-acre rural property that gives her plenty of opportunity to indulge her green thumb in the warmer months. “Most of our fun comes from taking care of this place – gardening and landscaping the yard. I just love to plant flowers and we keep a pretty big vegetable garden,” she shares. “Then, in the winter, we basically vegetate ourselves [laughs]. It’s too cold to go outside, so we stay warm watching movies and enjoying each other’s company.” Having gotten engaged in the summer of 2019, they’re also keeping busy with wedding plan- ning ahead of their September nuptials. Until recently, the pair was sharing their home with their two daughters; however, her fiancée’s daughter graduated from high- school in 2019 and is currently amidst her first year of university. Meanwhile, Lemieux’s daughter is finishing her last year of high- school now and getting ready to head off for post-secondary studies in the fall. That said, Lemieux catches herself partway through a comment about their soon-to-be-empty nest. “Well, we can’t really say that, because we have two big mastiffs in our house,” she laughs – “a French and a French-English cross, and they take up a lot of room.” Looking ahead, Lemieux says she and her team have been working on some special projects that should be exciting to their Canadian customers, like the ability to do custom digital printing on Levy’s’ series of gig bags so that stores can put their own logos on the products. Beyond that, she says it’s about “making sure all of our clients have our new products to refresh their displays and keep their customers excited.” Sales has long been her strong suit, and now, Jessica Lemieux is more than happy to put her skills to work representing a compa- ny she’s proud of in an industry she loves. Andrew King is the Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Music Trade.