If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
- John Quincy Adams
My journey with Joseph began in August of 2011 when he interviewed me for the position of Accounts Coordinator for Magnotta’s wholesale division. I knew when I walked out of my second interview with him that he was a truly authentic individual and quite different from any other manager I had ever met. He spent the last part of our discussion describing the office environment I'd be signing up for if I accepted the position. “The office where you will be working is situated on a mezzanine above the bottling line in the warehouse. The lighting isn't always ideal, the noise level tends to be loud and the traffic in the office might be distracting from time to time.” And last, but certainly not least, he emphasized that he was very forgetful.
I left that interview laughing and thinking, wow, I'd never met someone so honest. But that was Joseph. Integrity was very important to him and he made sure that I always felt comfortable to go to him with any concerns or problems. Big or small, he always made time to listen and understand.
For seven years, I worked side-by-side with Joseph as his assistant serving our customers at the LCBO, export markets, duty free shops, restaurants and with distributors of our Festa products. He treated all of our customers with the same level of respect. His negotiating skills and style were admirable. He believed in leaving some money on the table. He felt that this was the pathway to establishing realistic long-term partnerships, strong ones built on trust. And that is exactly the kind of accounts we proudly retained, with Joseph always working with them to find solutions that were beneficial for both parties.
Joseph's passion for wine and people was contagious. He was able to communicate his vision in such a way that was always motivating. He was determined to build a new generation of Magnotta wines that we could all be proud of. He valued the opinions of all his colleagues and took the time prior to launching new products to walk around both the office and warehouse to ask for staff feedback. Joseph, being so humble, allowed everyone the opportunity to offer their opinions and criticisms.
During busy periods when nothing seemed to go as planned, he would ask me what he could do to help. He made himself available so that I wasn't so overwhelmed. Jumping in and rolling up his sleeves in order to get the job done came naturally to him. He came to the rescue and did so with such a great sense of humour. I remember once having to wait for a shipment to load after-hours and he insisted that he would stay as well to keep me company. While waiting, we were discussing the possibility of our warehouse workers having to leave and he said that would be fine because he knew how to operate a forklift. In disbelief, I asked are you sure? His response was, “Well not really but how hard could it be? “
As the company grew and changes were upon us, Joseph always kept me in the loop. He made sure that I knew what was coming down the pipeline before receiving the memo or hearing it through the grapevine. We encountered numerous obstacles and challenges but he always handled them with grace and the openness to learn. He continually recognized hard work and acknowledged good performance. He was dedicated to taking care of his team.
I will cherish the memories and the time we spent working together. I will miss calling out to Joseph, “Where’s my fearless leader!?” when tough situations came up. It always made him laugh.
He will be impossible for me to forget.