With a wealth of experience spanning over 40 years, Jo-Lynn Hoffmann, CEO of Topax Protektive Packaging, has been at the forefront of driving the company’s success. With her multifaceted responsibilities, including finance, strategy, marketing, health and safety, and human resources, Jo-Lynn is not only redefining leadership but also challenging norms in the traditionally male-dominated manufacturing sector.

The Journey Begins

Founded in 1981 by Jo-Lynn’s brother, Simon, Topax initially focused on packing personal items for individuals relocating abroad from Canada. Joining the business in the summer after her first year at university, it didn’t take long for Jo-Lynn to recognize the potential for expansion into commercial and industrial sectors. What started as a summer job evolved into a lifelong dedication to the family business.

Taking the Next Step

Right when she joined Topax, Jo-Lynn was immediately envisioning enhancing the facility’s capabilities to accommodate more industrial and commercial products.

During her first summer working at Topax, Jo-Lynn secured a contact to warehouse wool, a notable achievement. Although out of their normal operations, this strategic move proved to be instrumental for the company’s expansion into a larger facility, providing the necessary financial foundation for their ambitious growth plans.

“Planning for the future and then having an interim plan to get there was exciting. It was very rewarding when we got the contract, and we were able to double the size of our operating facility. That was my stepping stone and realization that I like this industry and having control of our destiny.”

Embracing Leadership Identity

Jo-Lynn hadn’t given much thought to her former title as Vice President until her youngest daughter pointed out, “Mom, you need to change your title. Everyone thinks you work for him, but you don’t. You’re an equal partner.”

That aha moment sparked a conversation with her brother to change her title to CEO from Vice President. “I knew what my role was and that we were partners, but the title change has made a difference – I’ve been pleasantly surprised. People really didn’t realize before that I was an equal partner and had so much involvement in running the company.”

Breaking Barriers, Redefining Norms

Navigating the traditionally male-dominated sphere of manufacturing hasn’t been without its challenges. In the early days, Jo-Lynn’s strategy was to dress in a very masculine way and wear a lot of dark suits, blending in with her male counterparts.

“Maybe that was the right strategy for the 80’s and 90’s, but it’s not the right strategy for now.”

Embracing her identity as a leader, Jo-Lynn champions authenticity and encourages fellow women to do the same. Her message is clear – success knows no gender.

Paving the Way Forward

Jo-Lynn’s leadership journey at Topax exemplifies resilience, innovation, and a commitment to breaking barriers. Looking ahead, she sees Topax as a key player in shaping the future of manufacturing.

For Jo-Lynn, Topax isn’t just a crate maker – it’s a solutions provider, dedicated to helping businesses navigate the complexities of the supply chain with unparalleled ease and efficiency.