When I joined McCarthy Uniforms in 2017, my mandate was to bring the company back from insolvency and restore a family legacy – how’s that for a challenge in my first-ever President and CEO role?
But I was up to the task. I knew the McCarthy Family, who were buying the company’s assets back from the PE investors, and I felt comfortable in our shared vision. And they knew me: I had been their babysitter when I was a teenager! They also knew all about my background and history of innovation and reinvention . But above all, we had a personal, trusted relationship. The family wasn’t just on a mission to restore profitability – we were rebuilding a legacy together and relationships mattered.
As CEO, I worked hard to bring these family values to every interaction I had. I know that our customers don’t want to deal with an over-polished salesperson in a fancy suit. Our customers are moms, workers, public sector administrators – regular people who want to talk to someone who understands where they’re coming from. They need to know that we get them. I also knew that our employees needed someone who cared – who valued their wisdom, who could make them laugh, inspire them and help them see that by being part of recreating McCarthy Uniforms, they could be part of something bigger than themselves. I have shared our turnaround story quite a few times but, when it’s all said and done, it’s not the strategic pillars and numbers I will be most proud of. It’s all about the people. To my team, customers, suppliers – thank you for the opportunity to be part of your lives and thank you for trusting me. It’s been quite a ride. This entire process has been very overwhelming at times, but as we’ve hit our stride, I’ve felt a tremendous sense of joy in what we’ve created as a team. It’s almost like raising a child!
People said I was crazy to leave the security of an executive role to take on the challenge of a family business turnaround. But after years of working for other leaders, I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could really create something special. I was driven by a passion to see this team succeed, and to see the family owners, who I’ve known for thirty years, reclaim their family legacy and turn it into something they can really be proud of.
As I hand over the leadership to Shane McCarthy I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to have been the steward of this amazing Canadian brand. I feel especially grateful to Martin McCarthy and his wife Pat McCarthy for taking a chance on me – I often tell young business leaders that, every now and then in your career, someone will believe in you more than you believe in yourself – Martin & Pat were those people for me. The chance to lead other people and make their lives richer through their work is the greatest privilege any human can have. I look forward to my next adventure and to being an advisor to Shane and the McCarthy family as they chart the next seven decades