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James Palcik

General Manager and Director of Safety, Compliance, & Education
FLINN Scientific Inc.
James Palcik sur un bateau avec un énorme doré
James Palcik sur un bateau avec un énorme doré

James Palcik is the General Manager and Director of Safety, Compliance, & Education for FLINN Scientific Inc.

About me

I was born/grew up in: North Bay, Ontario

I now live in: Hamilton, Ontario  

I completed my training/education at: Completed a graduate degree in Geography and Environmental Science at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario. I also completed a Bachelor of Education degree at the same university afterwards. I have participated in multiple courses and programs involved with instructional design, chemical safety, disposal, OH&S, and adult education.

What I do at work

I am directly involved with providing STEM equipment to schools across Canada in the K-12 and post-secondary markets. We manufacture and distribute all of the items teachers use in laboratory and hands-on activities. This includes chemicals, glassware, microscopes, dissection specimens, and  software. These resources enhance student learning and supports teacher instruction in STEM subjects. Our team is in constant communication with teachers and students about our products. We actively modify or create new products based on the needs of the learners.

On any given day, I am involved in decisions related to all aspects of our business. This includes the products we sell, the pricing of these products, and the contracts we have with suppliers. I am also involved in decisions related to travel, workshops, PD sessions, and marketing. In making decisions on these topics, I involve the people in these work areas. Together we come up with the best course of action to take. I interact with my colleagues either in-person and remotely through Zoom or MS Teams. I have led many PD sessions remotely. In this way, I help school districts with safety and compliance training and product training.

We are a bilingual company -- but 99% of our work is in English. We design specialized equipment, kits, and software solutions. These are built into our blended learning platforms. This involves practical hands-on experience with academic training on various topics, subjects and grade levels.

My career path is

I expected to be a geography, science, or possibly an economics teacher in a high school for my entire career. At university, I enrolled into the Geography Environmental Science program and then completed the Education program. When the provincial science curriculum changed, I was recruited from teaching to work for a science supply company.  They were looking for people who could communicate with teachers about 'how to make lessons work in the new curriculum'. I traveled across Ontario meeting and helping teachers.

I never went back to my traditional classroom-teaching job, but I am still an accredited, certified member of the Ontario College of Teachers. I am still involved in education, just from another side of the room. I work to make STEM teachers lives easier by getting them the products they need to teach inquiry-based outcomes or traditional lab activities.  We work to predict what they want and involve many teachers in our internal product development to make it easier for their colleagues. 

I am motivated by

I enjoy the interaction with teachers at workshops, conferences, PD sessions and informal conversations the most. As a teacher myself, I can easily understand the obligations and responsibilities of educators. I am always eager to help teachers achieve their objectives. I have traveled across North America and am well known as a public speaker and as a captain in my industry. I have always been involved in education, as a teacher, as a sales representative for a school supply company, and as a trusted leader. This is what I find rewarding about my career.

How I affect peoples’ lives

We are the most reliable science education supplier in Canada (and in North America )! We make sure that schools have the right products on-hand to teach science and STEM programs safely. Most people don't think about where their beakers come from, or the chemicals, or the fetal pigs, or the microscopes. We work on the sidelines with teachers to get them what they need, when they need it! Our products may be the reason that a student decides to pursue a career in STEM.

Outside of work I

I love fishing!  Plain and simple. I have been fishing my whole life and feel very comfortable on the water or on the ice in the winter. My job can be stressful and involves long hours, and I really enjoy getting outside to relax. When my kids were younger, I was a hockey coach, soccer Dad, and a 'dance daddy' for my daughter. I was playing 'old timer' hockey pick up games on Saturday evenings when I was younger. Now I just go for bicycle rides, hikes, and kayak paddle adventures with my wonderful wife (who is a teacher too!)

My advice to others

If you are interested in a sales role, become an expert in that field. That way you will become a trusted advisor, rather than a sales person. People prefer buying from a trusted source even if your price is a little higher because you provide confidence and integrity.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Geography
  • History
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Business & Economics
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought people together
  • Liked helping people
  • Organized activities for my friends
  • Played on a sports team
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Was motivated by success
  • Wanted to be in charge
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
  • Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do
  • Engaged in activities such as fishing

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