Blue-Collar CEO & Founder of Freshco
I was born/grew up in: Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
I now live in: Oakville, Ontario, Canada (but I still spend lots of time in Yarmouth)
I completed my training/education at: I’m 100% self-made and self-taught in everything. I offered to work for free to learn the various trades I needed to start my business.
Describe what you do at work.
When I started my retail reconstruction and maintenance business over 20 years ago, I was hands-on with every single job. I’d be involved with design, carpentry, plumbing, electrical; basically whatever the clients needed! As Freshco has grown I’ve had to hire staff to take over the daily operations. They are the ones using STEM skills everyday and handling the latest technology and equipment (e.g., CNC Machines and exoskeletons). My focus is now on running the business from a high level. I make hundreds of decisions everyday that affect my staff and clients. Each decision is different but in order to make the right call I make sure I have all the facts. I explore the possible outcomes and then decide what the best course of action is that will positively benefit the most people.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
Beyond running successful businesses and making my clients and staff happy, I have a larger vision. I am redefining the collar, blue ™. I want to inspire people to join the skilled trades and solve the systemic skilled trades shortage across North America, and around the world. That’s why I’m called The Blue Collar CEO™. I want to challenge perceptions about the industry and make young people, even adults, rethink the answer to what do you want to be when you grow up?
What motivates you in your career?
The best part of my job is uncovering and nurturing talent. People are so amazing and they have unlimited potential – helping them tap into it and watching them succeed is the BEST!
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
I left Yarmouth, Nova Scotia at 18 years old with an old hockey bag and a smile. I didn’t have a plan, just lots of ambition. I offered to work in various trades for free so I could learn the ropes and gain experience. After a few years I noticed a niche in the market and built Freshco (not the grocery store!), now Canada’s #1 retail reconstruction and maintenance provider, to fill that niche. I’ve never had any failures in my career, only opportunities to learn and get better at what I do. It’s all about perspective and frame of mind – if you are positive you will attract more positivity! Just be authentic, embrace what makes you different and let your personality shine through! That’s a recipe for success in any industry!
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I work out every single day! It’s so important to get the serotonin going - it makes you happier and smarter. To relax I love to go to my windmill cottage in Yarmouth Nova Scotia or out to dinner with good friends.
Whenever I can, I offer to speak at events to help encourage more people to join the skilled trades. I also have a charity, The Chris Rennehan Foundation – named after my late brother – which helps youth and women thrive in the trades. I also support Conestoga’s Women in Skilled Trades, the CGLCC’s OUT For Business, and Ronald McDonald House Charities.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
You can do, or be, anything! It’s all about perspective and frame of mind – if you are positive you will attract more positivity! Just be authentic, embrace what makes you different and let your personality shine through! That’s a recipe for success in any industry!
Let’s Talk Science is grateful to Skills Canada Ontario for connecting us with this individual.