the steelhead story

In the early 1950s, Richard Jack left Montreal to pitch in a professional Triple A minor baseball league traveling from state to state in Small Town America.  He met Vera in New Mexico while he was with the Albuquerque Dukes.  They fell in love, married, and continued to travel with Rich’s teams during baseball season and he sold Fuller Brush products in the “off season”.  Then one day Vera told Rich “It’s time to settle down, we’re going to have a family”.  They moved back to Canada, to Ontario where Rich accepted a job selling copiers with 3M Canada.

1959 Rich Jack sold his first copier with 3M Canada in Ontario.

First daughter, Ramona, was born.

1960 Vera Jack started a home business selling office supplies to Rich’s customers.
Rich was the 3M top sales representative in Canada. He maintained that title for the next 14 years

1961 Second daughter, Jennifer, was born.

1962 Third daughter, Virginia, was born (and Rich gave up on the idea of having a son).

1969 Rich was transferred to Vancouver as regional manager to build 3M copier sales in the Lower Mainland.

1972 3M Canada shut down its direct sales operations and proposed independent distributorship to Rich.

1973 Rich and Vera established Steelhead in Vancouver offering the 3M line of copiers, overhead projectors and supplies. Rich and Vera chose the name Steelhead during a trip from Vancouver to Squamish, on the eve of opening their new business.  They were determined to not return home until they’d selected a name.  As they were mulling over their shortlist, they noticed a fishing derby in full swing in Horseshoe Bay.  They drove in and found out that “steelhead” was the most highly prized catch, attracting sports fishermen from around the world.  It sounded like a “catchy” West Coast name.  They discarded their short list and chose Steelhead instead.

1975 Steelhead added Minolta and Ricoh copiers to its product selection.  Minolta soon became Steelhead’s #1 line and Steelhead became the #1 Minolta distributor in Canada.

1976 Steelhead added the Nashua product line as a high-speed duplicating device for schools and government accounts.

1977 Ramona graduated from high school and started as a full-time shipper at Steelhead.

1979 Jennifer graduated from high school and started studies of business and psychology at Trinity Western University.

1980 Virginia graduated from high school and started full-time work managing the Steelhead office.

1982 After a long battle with cancer, Rich passed away.  Vera became president of Steelhead and a non-family manager was hired to run the company.

1983 Steelhead became the exclusive Vancouver-area distributor for Toshiba copiers, and left Minolta, Ricoh and Nashua to other distributors.
Virginia married and left Steelhead to start a family.
Jennifer graduated from TWU, traveled the world, and started selling copiers at Steelhead in January 1984.

1986 Vera remarried and moved to California.
Ramona left to work outside Steelhead as a bookkeeper.

1988 Steelhead moved from North Vancouver to Burnaby, to a more central location and larger facility.  Jennifer moved to Ontario.

1991 Jennifer returned to Vancouver and re-established her sales career at Steelhead.  She was awarded Toshiba’s Samurai designation her first year back (an award for Toshiba’s top sales representatives) a status she has maintained ever since.

1994 Steelhead Vancouver’s staff hit history-high of 45 employees.  The company moved to an even larger facility, its current 10,500 square-foot building on the corner of #1 Highway and Douglas in Burnaby.
Vera returned to Vancouver and Steelhead and resumed her post in accounting.  Ramona also returned to Steelhead to the position of office manager.

1996 The Jack family took the helm of Steelhead again when Ramona and Jennifer became co-general managers of Steelhead.  Ramona is in charge of operations, office, and service; Jennifer is in charge of sales and marketing.
Virginia returned to work in the sales department and quickly became the most loved copier trainer in Vancouver.
Steelhead decided to give up all government business that accounted for almost 50% of their customer base (and was slowly sinking them) and focus strictly on commercial business.  This required a significant downsizing of staff — not an easy decision to make at a family-values company.

1997 To support Steelhead’s proactive service approach, Ramona began the development of the Steelhead proprietary software, JACK.  Steelhead focused on creating the ideal customer experience — fully functioning copiers at all times — instead of focusing on the industry standard of competing based on the shortest response time to emergency service calls.  For Steelhead, the goal became “no emergency calls” and JACK became instrumental in anticipating customers’ service needs BEFORE they need to call.
Jennifer developed Steelhead’s unique sales approach — again based on customer needs, not on industry-wide habits. Steelhead strives to make buying a copier as effective as possible.  No wasted time or money and no needless meetings with pushy sales reps (unless the customer wishes to meet).  Proposals are faxed or emailed with full pricing information and the entire transaction can happen by phone.

1998 Business in Vancouver bestowed its “40 under 40” designation on Jennifer and Ramona.

2002 JACK became fully functional and Steelhead’s unique proactive service approach was in full swing.

2004 Steelhead purchased its building after leasing for 31 years.

2005 Steelhead added Muratec to its multi-function device lineup as an all-in-one system for smaller offices.

2006 Two Steelhead technicians, Barry and Adrian, achieved top scores on a national technician contest and Barry went to Japan to represent Canada in the Top Tech in the World contest.

The Jack family started to give 10% of Steelhead’s net profits to poverty relief organizations including The Harvest Project, Union Gospel Mission, and Mission Without Borders.

2007 Steelhead added Samsung to its product lineup.

To launch its next stage of growth, Steelhead went through a rebranding process with Vancouver-based brand creation company dossiercreative inc. The new brand image, logo and website reflect Steelhead’s time-tested values and vibrant, customer-centric culture.