– The Ontario Construction Report Special Feature
Introduced to the business before she could walk, Michelle Eglington is now, at the age of 28, vice president of Euro-Line Appliances West in Vancouver.
Eglington says her father began the company almost 30 years ago. At the age of one, she was cast in another role she still holds – as the model in advertising for the company’s line of European appliances. “I grew up listening to business talk, worked summers creating a new filing system and retrofitting European plugs.”
Originally considering a career in teaching, Eglington says one business course was all it took to demonstrate that was her true passion.
After graduating with an Honours Degree in Business Administration from Trent University, she went on to work for two other companies, both to prove she could and to gain experience outside the family business. “That lasted until we expanded to Vancouver, opening Euro-Line Appliances West. Now, my brother and I co-own the division there.”
Eglington says despite the stereotype that appliances are a woman’s domain, there are very few women on the wholesale side and even fewer her age. That, she says, has created challenges as people she meets may question how much she might actually know about the industry, and on the consumer end, on what it means to take care of a large family.
“One of the roles I most enjoy is helping retail customers find the appliances that are right for them, especially when it may not be what they thought they needed or wanted.”
She says while some customers may know in minutes what they want and be right about what will suit their needs, others need education and coaching to make the right choice.
Besides retail clients, Eglington also works with multi-residential builders, helping them make selections and putting together quotes. She will also work with the builders to ensure specifications at various stages of the project, and then with installers to ensure proper installation. “The performance and life of the product can rely heavily on the right setting and the right installation.”
One of her biggest challenges, she says, is deciding which products to bring in. Since all of the company’s product comes from Europe, she must be selective in what she chooses, and must stay ahead of the trends in design and health. “When my father started the company, European product was unheard of in North America. Today’s trend for sleek design and slim lines means our product is in greater demand and we are still the experts in this field.”
Eglington says food preparation and storage factors also account for the growing interest in European design. She says because manufacturing standards are higher in Europe and people tend to be more health aware, there are trends, such as steam ovens, that are quite popular there and that she is helping to introduce to her clients here.
“Of course getting product from overseas can be challenging. If a plant is slow making what we need, I can’t just get them to throw one on a truck and have it driven over; it takes a boat, which adds time and that can be hard for people to understand.”
An active member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), Eglington was recognized last year as part of the association’s Top 30 Under 30. This summer, she will meet with others recognized under the same program, and some of the top designers in the industry, at a summit at which design trends and consumer demands will play a focus.
She is also a member of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce where she sits on the board of its Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs Group. “This is a dynamic and changing industry that needs young people. This is not an industry that will dwindle – people will always need appliances.”
“There is a lot of potential for young people – whatever their interests are and wherever their strengths are. It may require long hours, it may require you to keep working at it, but in the end success is all about dedication to your chosen career.”
Euro-Line itself is active as well in the local and national business community, sponsoring major annual charity golf tournaments, hosting events for the local chamber of commerce, and as a sponsor and participant of NKBA events. For more information, visit http://www.euro-line-appliances. com.