To be a successful salesperson, confidence, product knowledge and the ability to articulate thoughts and ideas clearly are essential.
As president of the family-owned Caesar Transport Inc., Roger Caesar found it challenging making sales pitches to executives who didn’t talk a lot in their business meetings.
A face-time encounter with a prospective client a few years ago forced him to take decisive action.
“I knew I was having issues dealing one-on-one with clients, but this particular individual that I was trying to sell my business to just sat there stoically looking at me without saying anything,” said Caesar. “He was watching me without any emotion and I was in beads of sweat and very uncomfortable by the time the presentation finished.”
Though he clinched the deal, Caesar vowed things would be different going forward.
“For me to be successful, I couldn’t feel intimidated and I had to be in charge of the situation,” he said. “I had to do that if I wanted to be respected as a leader.”
Four years ago, Caesar enrolled in a Toastmasters Club to improve his communication, public speaking and leadership skills.
A few days ago, the Brampton resident clinched the Toronto District 86 Humorous Speech title in London, beating eight contestants and becoming the first member of that club to win the competition.
In front of an audience of almost 350, Caesar made an impressive seven-minute presentation on skydiving, which he started last July.
The audience included his wife, Rose, who is the company’s administrative director and his parents, Ray and Odette Caesar, who moved back to Grenada nine years ago.
“My dad had seen me make a Toastmasters presentation once, but never on a grand stage,” said Caesar. “As for my mother, that was the first time she was seeing me in that setting. I didn’t expect them to be there, so it was quite the surprise that they came up to support me. Winning the competition means I have reached a level I never thought I could be at. I now feel I could talk to anyone at any time about any subject. That’s what Toastmasters has done for me.”
Caesar’s Transport is a legacy built by his father, who migrated to Canada in 1974 in search of a better life for him and sister, Rayonne Caesar-Chavannes. A younger brother, Ryan, who was born here, is a lawyer.
Not content with working in a warehouse, Ray Caesar and his brothers, Norman and Winston, launched Caesar Brothers Transport in 1984. Caesar Brothers Transport was renamed Ray Caesar Transport a year later when Roger’s father assumed sole ownership of the company, which started with just a cube van transporting domestic goods across the Greater Toronto Area.
With the business flourishing, Roger Caesar – an accomplished middle distance runner in high school – was looking forward to attending the University of Michigan when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
“That injury was devastating and it took me a long time to get over it,” said the St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School graduate.
When it became evident he could no longer pursue an athletics career, Caesar left the University of Michigan after a year and completed accounting and marketing studies at Humber College.
In the second year of a summer job at Motorola Information Systems, the married father of two children made the decision to become an integral part of the family business.
“I didn’t feel right and that was not my calling even though I was well liked and treated well,” he said of his time at Motorola.
With his father approaching retirement age, it was the ideal time to come in and gradually assume leadership while learning about the logistics business.
“I have been here for 18 years and I have enjoyed every moment here,” said the 2011 Truck News Owner/Operator of the Year Award finalist. “There have been challenges along the way, but the business has grown exponentially over the years and we are doing well.”
Operating out of the family residence for a few years, the business moved to 13 Vulcan St. and then to its present location at 280 Belfield St. in Etobicoke.
The company has six trucks and six employees.