Last December, in partnership with ACOA, Opportunities NB (ONB) announced support for Scale Up Atlantic Canada, a formalized approach to helping New Brunswick-based businesses reach their full potential. Scale Up Atlantic Canada is led by the University of New Brunswick’s (UNB) J Herbert Smith Centre for Technology Management & Entrepreneurship (TME) and was created by Dan Isenberg of Babson College in Massachusetts.
This week sees the graduation of the program’s first cohort. Among the companies finishing up is Keswick Ridge’s The GAP Group, manufacturers and marketers of professional automotive products.
ONB spoke to Bruce Gourley, Partner & Director of Sales and Marketing, for his thoughts on the program and what it means for his company.
ONB: Why did you decide to apply/participate in Scale Up Atlantic Canada?
Gourley: ONB happened to send us information on the program at just the right time. My brothers and I had all recently read “Scaling Up” by Verne Harnish; we were beginning to grow and were studying up on how to effectively scale the business. The stars just aligned for GAP. Growth was there, but we needed a more formalized program like this to help visualize where exactly we wanted to go and how to implement a growth plan.
What are your key takeaways from the program?
The largest for me is the impact that culture has on your business. Whether it’s a huge multinational or a small family-owned company, the culture and the business need to be in harmony. Scale Up Atlantic helped us identify our desired culture and how to make the appropriate changes in order to materialize it throughout our company.
We’re already applying what we learned. It forced us to commit to change and growth. No more excuses or reasons why we can’t; we can, and we did!
What is the biggest positive shift or change that you’ve experienced?
We’ve structurally realigned for growth. By that, I mean that we have started putting the right people in the right seats to accomplish our growth goals. We have a great team already but we’re seeing the impact it has when everyone is working together in the same direction to achieve the same goals. It’s amazing how fast and efficient we can move and grow when we’re all rowing the boat in unison.
Why choose to grow here in New Brunswick rather than elsewhere?
We are a family business – my brothers and I grew up in New Brunswick and choose to stay and raise our families here. The province has its challenges, of course, but we’ve found success because of New Brunswick’s people and potential. Yes, we have a desire to scale up and out to other markets, but this will always be home.
My father started the company and our family here. We’ve built our business and our families here too. Scaling and growing to other markets can all be done from right here in New Brunswick.
The more affordable living and operating costs are obviously helpful too.
Do you have any advice for other companies that may join future Scale Up Atlantic Canada cohorts?
Recognize this as a great time to work on the business. Too many of us small business owners get bogged down with the daily operations and get stuck in the daily grind of working in the business.
This allowed us to make much-needed changes that we either didn’t see or saw but didn’t have enough time for. This will open your eyes. Also, it’s comforting to see there are plenty of other business out there like ours facing the same challenges.
We’re finishing plans for a new 20,000 sq ft building that should be completed by March 2020. We will be expanding our product line and scaling our manufacturing capabilities to begin serving customers on a global scale.
The GAP Group are manufacturers and marketers of professional automotive products that drive a safer and more profitable work environment. Learn more at GapAuto.com.
Written by Jason Boies