Episode 05 : The Art of Business
Eric Naaman is a very successful entrepreneur coming from a far-from-traditional background. Having moved to Canada to escape the war in Lebanon, Eric is now president of the amazing company and factory Damotech in Boisbriand. But Eric never knew he was going to end up leading such a big business, as he was first a professional artist for many years. What happened in between? From his first job as a photographer in New York City to managing his own International business, Eric learned plenty and is now sharing his story.
Eric’s Growth Story Book Title: The Road Less Traveled
What you’ll learn:
- Eric had been doing photography since he was 12 years. During his college years in the US, he wrote letters to some New York City photographers that he admired and glued them on big pieces of plywood. That trick to grab their attention got him his first job.
- Back in Montreal, Eric opened up his own commercial photography studio where he discovered a passion and talent for marketing doing advertising campaigns, corporate brochures, corporate portraits.
- 2 things Eric learned from his entrepreneurial journey in Quebec: 1 – You have to be a risk taker because it’s a fairly expensive process. 2 – There is support out there: firstly governmental programs for financing that can help you grow, and then, institutions can provide credit to accomplish bigger projects.
- “I was never an artist that could live of just love and fresh water. I had to make money.” – Eric on how he was already in an entrepreneurial mindset even as an artist.
- “I’m a sponge. I want to hear as many opinions as I can.” – On how he likes to make decisions, by forming his own opinion after talking to many different people.
- “It’s time for me to find my own product to promote.” – Eric on how he switched to marketing after the corporate photography industry started to change.
- “I was buying myself a salary” – Eric’s accountant on him buying a business that he could grow with his marketing expertise.
2:20 – He is president of the company Damotech based in Boisbriand.
3:20 – Eric Naaman was an artist for about 20 years before becoming an entrepreneur.
3:35 – Eric grew up in Lebanon. He describes his childhood years as very happy years, even though the country was ravaged by war.
4:10 – Militias would try to recruit him when he was around 16-17 to combat, and they eventually just left the country.
6:10 – Eric studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana.
7:08 – Eric didn’t complete his program because he was called out by a passion he had had since he was 12 years old: photography.
7:50 – After working in New York, Eric joined his family in Canada and started working in photography right away. He worked for a few photographers and then opened his own studio.
9:05 – His parents lived in Outremont, Montreal. They had moved to Canada during a big wave of immigration. At the time immigration was very much encouraged and made easy for them to become a citizen.
11:50 – Eric was interested in commercial photography and he did advertising campaigns, corporate brochures, corporate portraits. He was at the forefront of how businesses come to market and that is how he got interested in marketing and became able to advise his clients way above photography.
17:40 – Eric saw a revolution of the corporate photography industry coming with the digital age and did not want to be a part of it.
19:30 – It took Eric 3 years to find a business he wanted to acquire. He visited about 15 business and was able to define 4 non-negotiable criteria for the company he would buy: it’s cash-flow positive, it’s selling a really good product, it has horrible marketing, it makes money without his presence.
23:25 – Eric’s accountant recommended he went to visit Damotech, a company that makes steel structures that repairs damaged racking (industrial shelves) in warehouses all over North America.
26:12 – Eric was interested in partnering with the current owner of Damotech, but this one wasn’t interested, he really wanted to sell the company.
31:05 – Eric had gone to Boston to meet his sister’s friend Robert, a serial entrepreneur and get his opinion on Damotech before buying it. They chatted and he ended up becoming Eric’s partner.
31:35 – It took 6 months for them to negotiate and come up with financing, and they finally sealed the deal in 2010.
35:25 – Robert took charge of all the sales/distributors parts of the work, and Eric did everything else: marketing, human resources, the plant, etc. Eric would join him as he traveled a lot to develop their network.
45:00 – Eric says he loves to be able to reward deserving employees with an amazing work environment.
46:32 – When the company reaches a 15% growth during the year, Eric takes the employees (+- 50) and their spouses on a trip: Cuba, Mexico… He says it’s expensive, but the return is amazing.
50:30 – David Inzlicht and Eric Naaman are on EO together and David asks what Eric learned from a speaker they both recently met. Eric answers he sets goals to grows on 4 different categories: Personal, Family, Business, and Community.