The Poirier Group
During its first 13 years of operation The Poirier Group (TPG) has assembled a robust team of management consultants who are amongst the best minds in the business who are tasked with obtaining the optimal results for their clients. The primary commitment by TPG is to dispense outstanding, trusted expertise that culminates in their clients’ complete fulfillment.
The Canadian Business Journal recently spoke with The Poirier Group founder and CEO David Poirier and Michael Taylor, a seasoned professional who just recently came onboard with the team about four months ago as a corporate partner.
Poirier is a dynamic and visionary leader with a vast amount of executive experience in such sectors as retail, general merchandise, health and life sciences and manufacturing. He had a long history of corporate success with Loblaw’s, Hudson’s Bay Company and MDS, a leading health and sciences firm. Taylor is an IT Executive whose skills combine innovation with seamless execution and excellent teamwork skills. He has a career-long record of developing constructive relationships and negotiating complex agreements that has enabled him to nurture long-term loyal customers among Canada’s and the world’s leading companies.
Despite being exceptionally successful as an executive for his entire career, Poirier had often wondered what it would be like not to be part of a huge organization but rather to create one.
“I asked myself whether I was actually creating success in the organization or was I merely living in the vicinity of success,” he reflects.
The only bona-fide method of eliciting an accurate answer to his question was to start from scratch, and so he decided to embrace the entrepreneurial route and launch his own enterprise.
“I started The Poirier Group 13 years ago and got involved with private equity fairly early on and helping small and mid-sized organizations with their futures both strategically and operationally,” he says.
TPG worked almost exclusively on international endeavours for the first few years but Poirier found the constant airplane trips to be draining and so the direction of the company’s focus switched to North America, which has remained the primary target market ever since.
Trust and Integrity
Mid-sized organizations tend to be the predominant focus of TPG although they have been drawn up to larger organizations from time to time. What differentiates TPG from the traditional consulting firms is that most others have a process whereby they go in and tell their clients what they should be doing. Alternatively, TPG actually goes through the new process with the company step by step. Building a client’s trust is incredibly important for Poirier and his team in order to achieve maximum success.
“We’ve produced the results that we have because we’ve created trust with our clients. It enables us to get more done much faster and it leads to our customers being far more satisfied,” states Poirier.
Taylor says the secret sauce and what TPG has managed to create externally begins with the trust that has been established internally. Both Poirier and Taylor are quick to credit the strong characteristics of a fantastic supporting staff that has been assembled, noting that they all come equipped with intelligence, industry experience and the values that the company espouses.
“I don’t believe you can go outside the company and preach values unless you have that sustainability inside the company. They work hard and are empathetic,” states Taylor.
Poirier and Taylor have known each other for about 10 years but were only united on the business front a few months ago.
“I’ve worked for a lot of great companies and a lot of terrific people in the past. But I wanted to work with somebody who I believed in, and who had values that I look for and with a company that has the ability to make a difference. It was the right time and the right place. I probably should have done it a long time ago,” chuckles Taylor.
TPG has provided professional expertise to organizations with as few as six people but typically their clients tend to be entities of 100 or more employees where there is an ability to create a payback in value for TPG. There are countless industries where TPG is able to provide outstanding consulting services with some of the more well-known business cases having come in retail and grocery, supply chain and manufacturing, private equity, health and life sciences, government regulated industries and the services business.
“Certainly we were drawn to retail because of my spending more than 20 years in that industry. We’ve built up a lot of relationships there,” confirms Poirier.
“The fastest-growing area of our Group is private equity, which represents almost two-thirds of our work now. It’s a unique experience and environment but we have managed to grow that considerably,” continues Poirier.
“Private equity is definitely the area of growth that we’re focused on but with them they pull us into a number of other industry areas as well,” adds Taylor.
Professional Team Building
It is often stated that a successful enterprise is only as good as the people it employs. Poirier and Taylor constantly discuss the importance of building trust with clients and sharing values with them and it’s something the core of the TPG organization is profoundly rooted in.
“When we take on new hires we make sure those people share the values of the company,” notes Poirier. “We have four values that we really adhere to: learning, serving, excellence and integrity.
We talk about that every day. We have a very open, collaborative environment and people work to make others successful within the organization.”
As part of an internal team-building process the entire staff has two annual offsite gatherings at Poirier’s getaway home in Collingwood. Friday night starts out with an informal fireside chat followed by a fruitful brainstorming strategy session on Saturday when employees are encouraged to put forth their thoughts and ideas. At this year’s retreat it was determined that private equity, retail and U.S. business would be the central focal points of development.
Each team member at TPG feels confident in being able to offer up their own ideas, perhaps in part because there is no corporate structured hierarchy. It was about four years ago at one of those off-site meetings where a discussion about hierarchy and corporate titles came about. The conclusion was to vote out titles. With the exception of the top-tier executives none of the consultants have specific titles, and it’s worked out incredibly well. The decision has led to an even closer and more collaborative working relationship between everyone.
“If one person is having difficulty on a project, others step in to help out. I don’t have to encourage it at all, it just happens naturally,” Poirier proudly says.
As proof that people enjoy their work at TPG a number of people have been long-tenured employees and in fact several have been with Poirier since Day 1.
As a collective unit TPG feels an enormous responsibility to its clients because they have been entrusted to provide the preeminent solution for their clients’ business. An astoundingly impressive statistic is that TPG has managed to retain a 100% positive referral rating from its clients over its entire 13 years in business.
“It has begun to put a lot of pressure on everybody because nobody wants to be the first one to screw things up,” laughs Poirier, while at the same time being completely serious about wanting to keep the company’s perfect record intact.
“Every single customer that we have ever worked with from small to large we can pick up the phone and ask them for a reference and they’d say ‘Yes’. That’s an incredible value,” adds Taylor.
An important reason for TPG’s unblemished referral rating is that the company provides the services it can do and won’t overextend itself into uncharted or less familiar territory. On such occasions where familiarity may be scarce TPG will partner with experts from other organizations and they’ll work together to find the best solution for the client.
“We’ve partnered with a company called Reflexis Systems that provides workforce management and task management technology. Rather than trying to build it ourselves we go to them because they are really exceptional in their field,” says Poirier.
Maintaining a foothold at the front-edge of the technological revolution and its many disruptors such as artificial intelligence (AI) is an ongoing effort. Poirier wholeheartedly recognizes this aspect because so many organizations turn to TPG for their knowledge and experience as professional problem-solving consultants.
“I take that responsibility extremely seriously,” he emphasizes. “I want to always make sure that when we are recommending a path forward that it truly is the best solution.”
“When determining the success of a project we look at three things: that we have met or exceeded expectations; that you will become a reference of ours for business associates, friends and family; and that you will look upon us as no other consultancy that you’ve ever worked with. All three of those things must be achieved for a project to be a success,” states Taylor.
One prime example of The Poirier Group’s absolute commitment to establishing 100% client satisfaction arose when TPG was asked by the CEO of a company to do an initiation study – a short look at the organization to see what the opportunity would be. Four consultants from TPG spent a total of seven weeks on the project. However, about two weeks into the task it became apparent it was a far more complex organization than what had been anticipated. Poirier responded by putting everyone he could onto the project and it included having members of his team working evenings and weekends.
“By the end we had 10 people working on that project. We presented to the company and they were extremely happy with the outcome. The CEO came up to me afterwards and said ‘I know you couldn’t have made a profit on this. I did the math and there’s no way you made a profit’,” recalls Poirier.
The CEO was accurate on his mathematical assessment; TPG did lose money on the venture and he was curious as to why Poirier didn’t go back and ask for more. But asking for additional money was never contemplated. In Poirier’s mind he made an agreement and was going to stick to his word. That selflessness on the part of Poirier and his team certainly paid off because that same company has since signed another contract that is about 10 times the size of the original and it was made possible in large part because trust was established between consultant and client.
In addition to providing outstanding consulting services to their clients there is also a strong sense of corporate social responsibility and commitment from TPG to give back to the community. Corporate social responsibility is a company’s commitment to manage the social, economic and environmental effects of its operations responsibly and in line with public expectations.
“We created an initiative a couple of years ago called Purpose Beyond Profit. It was a commitment by us to apply 25% of our free time – bench time – towards not-for-profit endeavours. We go into non-profits and look for ways to improve their efficiencies and effectiveness. The team takes great pride in it. We’re not just contributing our hours; we’re leaving them with sustainable value-added capabilities,” says Poirier.
TPG also recently lent a helping hand to an organization called West Neighbourhood House in Toronto whereby a group of TPG consultants went in and provided their professional expertise in assisting with the revamping of some of the internal systems and procedures. Non-profit organizations are most often led by volunteers who give their time do incredible work on behalf of the community.
“We will help with labour and whatever is needed, but this was more a case of helping the organization become better and develop a multiplier effect,” says Taylor.
Looking to the Future
The decisive momentum and impressive portfolio of satisfied clients is something the entire team at TPG looks to expand up on in the coming years. Maintaining a perfect track record of positive success and client engagement are among the main priorities as a means of creating a lasting, sustainable experience.
It is also Poirier’s intent to once again dip into the international pool, which represents the original roots of the company’s foundation. Poirier became tired of the long flights but he has many co-workers with an abundance of energy from different parts of the world who believe there are opportunities to expand to those regions.
“We’ll probably start in the UK and see where we can grow from there. We have already penetrated every industry we can think of so there’s not much growth to be had on that front,” notes Poirier.
Poirier says the plan is to continue to evaluate TPG’s internal processes as well to ensure they don’t ever get stale as a team. A crucial aspect will be to keep their eyes open to the opportunities that they can utilize and fostering ongoing relationships with private equity will be very important. He wants to build upon that capability in the next generation of people to carry on the legacy long after he’s left the company.
“When an individual is finished their relationship with The Poirier Group, whether it’s after an internship, one year of service or 30 years of service we want them to be able to look back and say ‘I see my fingerprints on that organization and I’ve contributed a lot to it’,” concludes Poirier. “That’s what I want everyone here to feel.”