Canadian experience not required

About two years ago Jessica Chen applied for a factory job at Samtack Computer Inc., a Markham, Ont.-based company that also happens to be one of the largest computer and parts distributing companies in Canada.

A recent immigrant from China with very meager English, the 25-year-old Chen, would probably find it hard to land a job with other companies.

However, Samtack has what might be seen as a “unique” hiring principle in the province. The firm doesn’t require job candidates to have any “Canadian experience.” Chen was just the type of employee that Samtack is constantly on the lookout for.

“I respect Canadian experience, but it doesn’t mean much here. I value attitude more,” says Royson Ng, president of the company and himself an immigrant from Malaysia.

The hiring strategy has served his company. In the past nine years, the firm’s revenues soared more than six-fold from $20 million to $130 million. The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) also recently awarded Samtack the RBC Immigrant Advantage Award in recognition of the company’s efforts to hire newcomers. The Council’s mandate is to create and champion initiatives that better integrate skilled immigrants in the Greater Toronto labour market.

Samtack has 115 employees and about 90 per cent come from countries such as China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Africa and Malaysia. But they are not just relegated to low-level positions.
Each employee is given an equal chance to prove themselves and move to higher positions, according to Fouad Jazouli, vice-president of marketing and operations for the firm.

Chen is one of Samtack’s success stories, said Jazouli who hails from Lebanon. “She was one of those putting together hard drives in the line and realized we were not doing it efficiently.

“She did her own research on production line equipment, contacted friends and former colleagues in China, and then approached us with price quotations and a proposal on how to speed up production,” said Jazouli.
He said the changes included installation of more ergonomically designed work benches that integrated power bars and tool stations.

One design involved a simple pulley mechanism that suspended electric screw drivers so workers would not have to hold them up all day. “Imagine having to hold a one pound screw driver the whole day. Put in on a string and you save your arm a lot of pain,” said Jazouli.

Chen’s recommendations worked wonders for Samtack.

The company’s hard drive production shot up from 4,000 units daily to more than 16,000.

Today Chen is supervisor of production at Samtack.

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