After helping to carry several product lines through three consecutive record sales years, the 28-year-old is tasked with running a team of trainers to build and scale the company’s internal training tactics, including e-learning and in-person programs.
Ever since joining Walter Surface Technologies in 2014 as an intern, Ryan Boyd’s advancement in the metal works distributor has shown no signs of slowing down. He spent his three-month internship working directly with the CEO and company executives, was then hired full-time onto the marketing team to support development of the Canadian market, then joined a newly created business development and analytics team. From there, Boyd moved to research and development, leading his product categories to three consecutive years of record sales growth. By 2018, he was the youngest and quickest Walter employee to complete its Masters of Surface Technology program before being promoted to global director of training.
Now, Boyd and his team of three trainers are building a new training department with the goal of developing a comprehensive and scalable training platform that uses a variety of e-learning, in-territory training and an extensive on-boarding program. Boyd, 28, is helping to expand mature sales territories, accelerate market penetration, improve sales efficiency and support new product-category growth with new and established territory managers for Walter in Canada, the United States, Mexico and Brazil.
Soon after graduating from Montreal’s McGill University in 2014, Boyd’s father saw an ad for the Walter internship in a local paper. Boyd had driven by the Walter building in his home town countless times, but didn’t know anything about what the company actually did. Still, he was intrigued at the opportunity to work with C-suite executives as an intern and was happy to be accepted into the internship. “I thought it’d be a fantastic intro to what could be a possible future career,” he says.
After accepting the full-time position in the marketing department, Boyd went to work developing the Canadian market for about a year, building channel relationships and programs, building out advertising and marketing plans to sell through industrial distribution.
Realizing that the company had a lot of market data that wasn’t being utilized, Boyd helped to build Walter’s business development and analytics department to create a robust base of business intelligence — actionable information derived from years of internal sales and operations data.
“He has ideas and he’s not scared to do things that we haven’t done before, he’s young and dynamic in that sense,” says Jean-Francois DuBois, marketing director, distribution channels at Walter, who was Boyd’s first boss.
Boyd helped to develop new product packaging and sales platforms, adapted programs for industrial vending and evaluated strategic pricing and promotion initiatives to help boost sales in key product categories. “We took a dive into the mountains and mountains of data we had and started saying, can we turn this into some actionable information that helps with pricing optimization or expanding successful product lines,” he recalls.
He identified and spearheaded the launch of several new key product lines for Walter, and launched one of the most innovative angle grinder accessories in Walter’s history, the Grinder Grip. Over his time in the role, Boyd helped to carry product lines through three consecutive record years of sales and growth.
But by mid-2019 he “had that itch” to move onto a new challenge. “We started to look at the spots within the organization where we had an opportunity to improve the service we were giving to our sales team, because we’ve got about a 120-person sales team in Canada, the U.S. Mexico and Brazil,” he says. “We took a look at our training department and said if we were able to build out a robust, very complete training department and we can prove that that’s going to help our sales team become a little bit more efficient, a little bit more quick than in the past, then that’s a big value creator.”
Boyd took on the title of global training director, now running Walter’s training department where he is building out an extensive onboarding program designed for salespeople. An initial challenge of the position, he says, was having three team members report to him who are all about twice his age with decades of experience in the field between them.
“He’s delivered 100%. He’s delivered above and beyond,” says Patrick LaPointe, Walter’s vice president of R&D and Boyd’s current boss. “He really ramped up very, very quickly because of his interest and his passion for the field.”
Now, Boyd’s day to day activities are focused on developing training content for sales programs and new product categories, as well as revamping Walter’s onboarding training program. Once up and running, it will include a five-month cycle with five different classroom sessions that last two to four days each. “We’re trying to build a training program that’s much more focused on helping with retention and effective absorption and learning by the territory managers,” says Boyd.
In the next few years, Boyd sees himself moving into a sales-related role, while continuing to grow within Walter. He sees sales people as “owners of their own small business,” with the power to increase their commissions and build out a plan for their territory, and “if I can continue to help them maximize their results, it’s a win-win. I’ve been lucky enough to find an employer who values their employees, gives them an opportunity to try and build their own house within the Walter family,” he says. “I’ve been pretty lucky to be with the company that I’m with and so I hope to keep on growing with them.”