[quote style=”boxed”]Talk less and listen more. Pay attention to your clients–they are the ones who feed your family. Listen to your staff, ask for their advice, and take their suggestions seriously. Treat them with respect. Get involved in your community, and make a positive difference. Wash, rinse and repeat.[/quote]
Brandon Forder is a pet health professional and co-owner of Canadian Pet Connection. Based out of Oakville, Ontario, Canada, Canadian Pet Connection (CPC) is an industry leading company specializing in pet nutrition, behavior, lifestyle, and award-winning, professional pet grooming.
CPC was founded in 1994 by Brandon’s father, Lorne Forder, when Brandon was only 14 years old. Fast forward to today, and Brandon is now the face of a new generation of young pet health professionals working with top veterinarians, animal nutritionists, and animal behavioral experts around the world.
As an entrepreneur in a person-to-person-based industry, Brandon strongly believes in the power of relationships between him and his excellent staff and clients. This philosophy has allowed CPC to stand out against the mega conglomerates that dominate the global pet industry. CPC has even earned the recognition of being voted Oakville’s Best Pet Food Store, Best Pet Supply Store, and Best Pet Grooming eight years in a row.
Brandon is dedicated to providing his clients with world-class knowledge and expertise regarding all things pets. He has written articles for several animal publications, magazines, blogs and newspapers–in addition to writing for the CPC Facebook page, Twitter profile and blog.
What are you working on right now?
After months of preparation, we have recently launched CPC’s Community Pay it Forward Campaign. The aspiration of this new campaign is to raise funds and contribute to the enhancement of educational environments, sports teams, dance studios, retirement living centers, essential services, charities, animal rescues and shelters, and more.
This community-based initiative has been well received, and we are working very hard to help raise funds for Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Oakville Hospital Foundation, Burlington and Oakville humane societies, and many others.
Where did the idea for Canadian Pet Connection come from?
I must admit, the credit for the original idea has to go to my father, Lorne. Being heavily involved in animal rescue and obedience training in the early 1990s, my father was discouraged by the lack of healthy food options for our family pets, so he took it upon himself to leave his high profile job in the financial industry to pursue his passion of providing healthier lifestyles to our four-legged family members.
What does your typical day look like?
My alarm is set to 5:30 a.m. every morning so that I wake up to take my dogs (Marino and Kiwi) to the park. My work day begins at 8:00 and usually ends anywhere from 6:00-8:00 p.m. During these hours, I (deep breath): oversee CPC’s two retail locations and distribution warehouse, maintain CPC’s Facebook page, Twitter account and blog, greet and service clients when I’m in CPC’s retail stores, and make free, home deliveries to local clients.
Once my work day is complete, I go back home to spend time with my pack, which includes my wife, Angela, our soon-to-be-born baby girl, Charlotte, our two dogs Marino (Polish Mountain Dog) and Kiwi (Pomeranian), and our three rescue cats, Earl, Harley and Gator. Yes, my home is a zoo, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I’m not at home spending time with the family, I can usually be found on my motorcycle.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I must say that I am blessed with an excellent business partner and an amazing staff. We keep our ears and eyes open, listen to our clients, and have daily, open discussions about new ideas and concepts–no matter how outrageous they may seem. Bringing our ideas to life is rarely a challenge when the CPC family collectively combines efforts. Together, we can (and will) achieve anything we set our sights on.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Considering I specialize in healthy lifestyles for pets, it excites me to see an increasing number of pet owners educating themselves about healthy pet living. When pet owners takes the time to further their knowledge of responsible pet ownership, they immediately manifest happier, healthier lifestyles–not only for their pets, but also for themselves and their families.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
In my late teens, I had a summer job making spindles and rail for staircases. The job was terribly repetitive, and as a result, days were very long. The hot, dry and dusty environment made it difficult to breathe with a mask on, and when I took the mask off, I’d usually get a nice, big mouthful of sawdust. Lovely, I know.
This job taught me much about sustaining mental clarity. It is far too easy to lull yourself into a trance when repetitively working with heavy machinery, and that is when people get hurt. This observation has helped me focus on staying mentally sharp in a competitive retail environment, because if you are lulled by a monotonous routine, you are bound to get hurt– physically or financially.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I began working in the pet industry when I was 14 years old. Even in my late teens, I can say, without a doubt, that my mental maturity, although normal for my age, really presented its challenges when working with industry peers who were the same age as my father.
I will be the first to admit that in the early stages of my career, I was not mentally mature enough to take my job seriously. There was a time where I only saw the job as a job, and nothing more than a paycheck. Then one day, the light came on for me. I wish that light had come on sooner.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Talk less and listen more. Pay attention to your clients–they are the ones who feed your family. Listen to your staff, ask for their advice, and take their suggestions seriously. Treat them with respect. Get involved in your community, and make a positive difference. Wash, rinse and repeat.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One of the greatest hurdles I encountered as a young entrepreneur was my age. I had spent a significant portion of my life reading, learning and educating myself about all things pets. Yet no matter how much knowledge I had to share, clients would regularly dismiss my recommendations and ask for my father’s advice instead.
I really can’t fault anybody for thinking this way. After all, how many 19-year-olds would you trust with your diabetic pet’s health? Recognizing this as a challenge, I changed my approach to business. My solution was to focus on developing and strengthening my relationships with clients, and over time, as I earned their trust, they would, in turn, trust my opinions and recommendations. This strategy proved highly successful, and it was only a matter of time until clients began asking for me by name.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Although this is not a new concept, I believe the pet services industry is going to explode in a big way. As the baby-boomer generation ages, it will become more dependent on pet services (dog walking, pet sitting, etc.) to provide superior care for pets on a consistent basis.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
As Immanuel Kant said, “We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” We really need to change the way society treats animals. Animal testing, breed-specific legislation, and over-populated shelters are all contributing to an issue we cannot possibly solve without major changes.
I don’t believe this problem has a single solution. With that said, the best way to lay solid groundwork is through education. Give people the knowledge to make better decisions when it comes to pet ownership. Too many people know too little about animals, and in the end, it’s always the animals that end up suffering.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Food Pets Die For by Ann Martin. This book exposes the seedy underbelly of the pet industry, and reveals the many ways in which manufacturers try to deceive pet owners. After reading this, you will never look at pet food the same way again.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
- @DannyBrown is an award-winning marketer and social media blogger. He is also my social media mentor.
- @WonderMoms_ca (Tamara McPherson) is a great example of what an entrepreneurial spirit can achieve without losing touch with her roots or community.
- @AboutPetShops (Alissa Wolf) is among the pet industry elite, and provides up-to-date information and insight on the latest happenings and trends in the pet industry.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I work with animals all day long. They make me laugh all the time. Animals have a tremendous sense of humor!
Who is your hero?
My father is my hero, even to this day. He has taught me everything I know about business, finances, and how to treat others with respect. He is an amazing man with incredible ambition.
Brandon Forder on LinkedIn: ca.linkedin.com/pub/brandon-forder/22/229/540
Canadian Pet Connection on Twitter: @CanPetConn
Canadian Pet Connectionon Facebook: facebook.com/CanadianPetConnection
Canadian Pet Connection’s website: CanadianPetConnection.com
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.