“Compared to my previous business, the sheer number of transactions is huge, but for much smaller amounts,” he says. “You have to talk to so many customers to achieve the same level of sales. I can’t do that without good employees who have learned how to sell. We emphasize intense training and pay them significantly higher than the retail average.”
Russell originally planned to be only a short-term franchisee, but with the growth of his business and his enjoyment of the stores’ atmosphere and clientele, he says he’s hooked.
“I can’t walk away from it!” he says. “It’s a fun environment. I wake up each day excited to be in this business.”
And while his franchises have represented new horizons to explore, the move back to Ottawa has meant a comforting return to his roots.
“We still own a farm, with animals,” he says. “It’s a good lifestyle.”
How he got here:
- Russell grew up on a family dairy farm near Ottawa. He studied animal science at McGill University in Montreal and later took his MBA in marketing and consumer behaviour at the University of Wisconsin.
- Staying in the U.S. to sell nutritional products for farm animals, Russell met his wife Janet while they were both working for Pfizer, a multinational pharmaceutical company. They went on to have four children.
- After working for several biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, Russell started his own business, Nutrilinx LLC, which imported animal food additives for the North American market, mostly from Europe. His expertise allowed him to explain to customers how to use these ingredients.
- The nature of the business meant Russell was constantly travelling all over the U.S. while his children were growing up. “That wasn’t a lifestyle that appealed to me,” he says. “I wanted to work hard, but I also wanted to be home each night with my kids and to coach hockey and soccer in my local community.” He sold Nutrilinx to one of his distributors.
- Russell moved back to Ottawa, where his wife could work for Pfizer. “I had capital and I looked at different opportunities,” he says. He quickly purchased his first Trade Secrets franchise, which would become number one in sales across the entire retail chain.