Collaboration is the key to bringing ideas to life and solving problems.
In 1981, Toronto’s John Fielding traded in his hockey skates for a career in business. With little money in his pocket, he turned a small business idea into a large conglomerate. Today, Array Marketing is a global retail merchandising service with high-profile clients including Estee Lauder, Chanel, Sephora, Ulta and many more. For over 35 years, Array Marketing has been delivering innovation in retail merchandising, creative branding, in-store build outs, point of purchase displays, open service systems and retail fixtures.
Where did the idea for Array Marketing come from?
It all started when I returned home to Canada from playing hockey in Europe in the early ‘80s. I began to focus on a new career in business. My brother and I began Array Marketing out of a 500 square foot location in Scarborough, Ontario where we distributed promotional items such as coffee mugs, key chains and bottle openers. Focusing on advertising specialties at first, we used this experience to grasp every possible opportunity that came our way, eventually turning the business into the success that it would become.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Now that I’ve taken a step back from the frontlines and serve as a shareholder and on the board of directors of Array Marketing, my days are a bit different from what they used to be. When I’m not action on or for existing entities I am always considering ‘New Ventures’ virtually on a daily basis. I’m active in the equine world, both as an owner and breeder of thoroughbred and standardbred horses, so if I’m not in a business suit or attending a board meeting, I’m likely involved in some capacity with my horses.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Collaboration. I enjoy working with people to find ideas and solutions to problems; it’s almost always more effective and efficient to work as part of a team to overcome a challenge.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Personal development. No matter where you are in your career – an entrepreneur starting out or nearing retirement – every person has different strengths and weaknesses, and it’s always a good idea to work on those strengths and weaknesses to enhance your talents and acquire new skills
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Taking the time to slow down and enjoy the ride. It’s been satisfying so far, both personally and professionally. I’ll tell you, looking back 30+ years on my journey, it goes by so quickly!
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be a better listener and express myself with confidence and graciousness. When you are starting a business, you often fall victim to self-doubt. Will it succeed? Am I doing the right thing? A bit of confidence in those early days will go a long way.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Being a business leader and instituting large-scale changes often requires increases resources in one area and cutting back in others, which can be difficult.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Stay focused. Don’t ever lose the passion for what you are doing. If you do, you are setting yourself up for failure.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Start with a singular focus. Sure, big picture dreams are necessary to set long term goals, but starting small keeps you in the here and now. It won’t be long before new opportunities began to present themselves. Every opportunity, whether big or small, gives you a reason to learn, grow and build-upon to fulfill that big picture goal.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Many of today’s entrepreneurs have ground-breaking business ideas, but they put them on hold due to a lack of funding. I was no exception, but with knowledge and determination, I built a business from the ground up. You have to know how to take that one small idea and grow it into something much larger.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Online mentorship. It can be a database of experts in a wide range of subjects and careers that you can simply search for on the internet and be paired with an expert. It can reach customers anywhere, regardless of geographic location.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Tickets to see a musical with my wife. We enjoy a nice night out together.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
It seems simple, but Google Calendar. It keeps me organized and reminds me of when I have meetings and appointments to attend.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Start Small Finish Big: Key Lessons to Start – and Run – Your Own Successful Business by Fred DeLuca. It’s a book about twenty-two entrepreneurs who start on a shoestring, and transformed their start-ups into industry giants. Fascinating.
What is your favorite quote?
Treat others how you would like to be treated.
- Start small
- Stay focused
- Collaboration is the key to bringing ideas to life and solving problems
- Treat everyone with respect