Conquering the Divide
With a commitment to internationality and diplomacy, Jean Benoit has helped build a stronger, more unified die industry.
by Jessica Millward
Canada is a nation of distinct and defined identities. The French-speaking population living around Montreal possesses its own cultureone very different from that of English-speaking Canadians, generally associated with the city of Toronto. Jean Benoit, founder and owner of Dieco Steel Rule Die, had a wishto bridge the gap between Canada's two cultures of diemaking/diecutting professionals.
As a long-time member of the International Association of Diecutting and Diemaking (IADD), Benoit has been dedicated to the expansion of the Can/Am chapter, and its mission of linking industry professionals throughout North America. For his ongoing commitment to an internationally minded industry, Jean Benoit has been selected as packagePRINTING's 1999 IADD Diecutter/Diemaker of the Year.
Benoit's diplomacy and "people skills" made their appearance early on in his career. While working in sales for both Procter & Gamble, and Cheseborough Ponds, Benoit recognized his entrepreneurial instincts. As Benoit observes, "going into business for yourself can offer a degree of satisfaction that is difficult to obtain elsewhere."
After visiting a neighboring dieboard jigger, Benoit became convinced he could create a diemaking organization with top-notch equipment and favorable working conditions for employees. Though he had never made a die himself, Benoit was certain that superior management of skilled people would prove successful.
Leaving behind a secure job and a regular salary, Benoit founded Dieco Steel Rule Die in 1969, because, as he notes, "I was sure I could make a difference." Dieco set up shop in Laval, just north of Montreal, in 1,900 sq. ft. of office space. With very little capital, Benoit's wife, Helene, did the accounting and office workBenoit was salesman, production manager, and general manager.
The Benoits' commitment to providing value with superior service paid off. In 1974, the business moved to a larger office, and in 1978, Benoit bought the first Atlas laser available in Canada, thereby realizing his initial dream of easing the physical labor involved in die drawing and jigging. Using old Heidelberg, Miller, and Miehle presses, Dieco soon offered a diecutting service to existing customers.