During my last few years of high school I had part time jobs in the jewellery business, liked it, and started working toward my Gemologist credentials from the Gemological Institute of America. I fell one course short of being a Gemologist in the end but did get my Diamond Grading credentials. After high school I attended Brock University Business School (Honours Business Administration Degree) for a total of six weeks. Being somewhat disenchanted with the business school, I started my working life as a jeweller, working for others and as a freelancing goldsmith, appraiser and watchmaker (amateur). After two years I decided to go back to tech school and I got an Electronics Engineering Technologist diploma from the DeVry Institute of Technology (no longer operates in Toronto but does in Calgary, and several locations in the US).
That took me to Telesat Canada where I started as a Technician in Ottawa. After a year I transferred to the Arctic in a similar position. I had the privilege of living in Frobisher Bay, N.W.T. when it changed its name to Iqaluit, N.W.T. (now Iqaluit, Nunavut). After three years in Iqaluit, then another year in Ottawa as a technical trainer, I took a job as manager of the Western operations group, based in Calgary. Three years later I switched to sales in Toronto and became sales manager a year later. I then launched the first satellite based Internet product in Canada, direcPC, which we sold to ExpressVu (now just Bell TV). Later I took over responsibility for all sales and marketing of non-broadcast products and customers, during which time we made groundbreaking sales at the Big 3 automakers, Nissan, Hudson’s Bay Company, and several medium sized Canadian retailers.
Along the way I got an MBA from a really great biz school – The University of Western Ontario (now the Richard Ivey School of Business) – where they use just the case method, which I really loved.
In 1998 I left Telesat to join a small startup company my brother had started, called mmwave Technologies (mmwave meaning millimeterwave, which is the frequencies above microwaves!). I became President later in 1998 and together we grew that company from $600K in sales in 1997 to $17 Million in 2001. That year we were #8 on the Profit 100 list of Canada’s fastest growing companies. The following year we were #21. Then in 2003 they lost our ballot (we would have been around #50). We stopped submitting entries when, in 2004, we were #168 on the Profit ONE HUNDRED. We just thought that was a bit ridiculous although the plaque was nice to have on the wall! During that time we launched several companies some of which were successful and some less so.
The tech crash hit us hard and we had to somewhat reinvent the company into a wireless company, which we did. In 2005 we sold mmwave to a public company, Wireless Age Communications Inc. My brother became the President of mmwave which had become a subsidiary of Wireless Age. I became President and later CEO and Chairman, of Wireless Age, the publicly-traded parent. Public companies not being my thing, in early 2007 I resigned from my position at Wireless Age. The parent and our old company have since gone through some very rough times, but the stores that the company started out with are now run by Allen Cowie, who ran them for us when I was Chair.
I then helped start a company called Quextit Media which was a web/mobile app Q&A play that had some mild traction, but just as it got going the opportunity to help commercialize a mobile-based fish finder, FishHunter arose and we jumped on it as it seemed like it could be big. That got sold and I started to focus on my work researching and speaking about the cannabis business in Canada.
I taught Finance and Entrepreneurship for several years at Humber College, and since 2009 I have taught Strategy and Entrepreneurship in the world-renowned Entrepreneurship program at the Ted Rogers Business School (Ryerson University).
Some of my clients and other involvements are on the links page.
I play in a rock band called Southpawz that plays semi-regularly in the West GTA.