By Barry and Teresa Johnston
We recently bought an existing Tutor Doctor franchise with a territory covering British Columbia’s Fraser Valley. Not only does the concept have a strong personal connection for us, but its recent rebranding has helped position us for a whole new level of growth and success.
I was born in Motherwell, Scotland, and my family immigrated to Canada when I was six years old, moving to Cambridge, Ont. When we first arrived, I was old enough that it was a difficult adjustment, but I learned to speed-skate, continued to play soccer—doing so competitively for 18 years and coaching my younger brother—and trained in diving and swimming, becoming a lifeguard when I was a teenager.
That was not my first job, though. My father, who had played in a band in Scotland, started a disc jockey (DJ) company in his spare time. I would work with him at events on Friday and Saturday nights, starting when I was 14. We played at weddings, parties and singles clubs for seniors. It was a great experience for me. I was a shy kid, but my dad would put me right in front of the mic.
From an early age, my goal was to become an atmospheric scientist, as I was fascinated with weather. I went on to study the discipline at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
I am from Victoria. My parents were entrepreneurs and we moved all around British Columbia over the years. Legal issues always arose as challenges for their businesses.
When I was very young, I knew I wanted to be either a lawyer or an architect when I grew up. My Grade 7 teacher, who was an important mentor in my life, actively encouraged me to go into law. Given my parents’ experience, I was most interested in business law.
I met Barry in my first undergrad year at UBC, as we were in the same dorm. We knew early on we wanted to be together for the long term.
He changed his major and went back to Ontario. After maintaining our relationship long-distance for a year, I followed him and finished my honours degree in history at the University of Western Ontario, where he was studying economics, in London, Ont. Upon graduating from our bachelor programs, we both moved back to British Columbia and I went to law school at UBC, focusing as much as possible on business courses.
After I finished, instead of joining a law firm, I worked in-house for corporations in a variety of industries, ranging from electronics to mining to wine and spirits. These experiences immersed me in all aspects of business, including marketing, intellectual property (IP), production planning, distribution, operations and finance.
I really got to learn how businesses work, how to manage and how to be flexible with my priorities. It was an exciting time in my career.