Charlie faced an “oh crap” moment as a self-supporting university student when he lost his summer job. With limited options in mind, he attended a College Pro recruiting session - he never looked back. Now, as the CEO of FirstService Brands, Charlie sees College Pro every day.
Education: Queen’s University
Rookie Year: 1983 (turf: Philadelphia, PA)
The College Pro Story
Charlie studied geology in university, but the industry was running into hard times and he was told that he wouldn’t have a job for the next summer. He applied to College Pro after going to an event on campus: “It was a really well attended session, there were probably over 100 people in the room. I remember thinking ‘this will never work – I’m not good enough."
Despite his nerves, Charlie was hired as a franchisee, and decided to run his first business in Philadelphia, where his mom’s family was from. It’s safe to say it turned into a lot more than just a summer gig, considering he never left Philly. He was promoted to Field Advisor the following summer, tasked with overseeing six other franchises. By his third year, he became a Regional Vice President. He grew his piece of College Pro impressively - from his one franchise to overseeing 263 franchises by 1992.
Steve Rogers, another CP alum, approached Charlie around that time to start working on a project – we now call that project CertaPro. Charlie ran CertaPro until 2000, before taking a few years off to ‘do his own thing’: “I had 2 kids aged 10 and 8 at the time, and it was nice to finally be able to dedicate all of my time to them. We all remember those years fondly.” After spending quality time with his family and travelling, he came back. And some would say, the rest is history. In 2010 he took over what was then called The Franchise Company, and now called FirstService Brands – which College Pro belong to!
Charlie’s Advice to Franchisees: “Follow the program. It works.” (He likes to keep things simple!)
Thoughts on Entrepreneurship
College Pro has a unique brand of entrepreneurship. The forms of training and support that are offered to those in the program create development opportunities for young people that Charlie says you can’t find anywhere else: “There’s a difference between the popular idea of entrepreneurship, like Steve Jobs, and the actual reality of entrepreneurship. Most startups are small businesses, and it’s the small businesses that offer character development.”
Where FirstService Brands Meets College Pro
College Pro was one of the first companies purchased by The Franchise Company (now FirstService Brands): “It was a foundational element in the success of FirstService.” Through the years, College Pro has pioneered leadership development programs and human resource development: “You can find College Pro people everywhere in our organization… and I mean everywhere.”
About Charlie: Fun Facts
- His favourite College Pro memory is his first training session: “It showed me an organization that knew what it was doing. I was alone, 600 miles away from home with no support, but they made me believe that I could do it.”
- Charlie has been married for 30 years and has two kids.
- He loves to travel – highlights include Machu Picchu, the Inside Passage of British Columbia, and Newfoundland.
- Charlie loves to stay active with hockey and basketball.
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