Passionate About Entrepreneurship
My entrepreneurial journey began when I was 15 years old with just $1200, a squeegee, a bucket, and a dream.
While technically, by definition, I am an entrepreneur, I prefer to refer to myself as a business builder.
This site was developed to share lessons learned throughout my journey in hopes of providing value for fellow entrepreneurs, or for those who are considering entrepreneurship.
Beginning to work at the age of 15 and having the opportunity to accumulate over 35 years of experience in building companies, has been the dream of a lifetime.
We have had the opportunity to employ and befriend thousands of people, and we also take pride in the fact that the companies we built, have generated over $750 million in lifetime sales.
None of this would have ever been possible without my lifetime partner, my wife Natalie. The sudden loss of our son in 2013, forced us to reflect on our meaning of success. This reflection inspired me to build companies that would include working alongside our sons and daughters, leveraging hours spent at the dinner table discussing business strategies, their talents, hard work ethic, and total dedication to seeing things through.
We have been involved in multiple industries including software, marketplace, service, and rentals. Currently, we are building Bunking and Bunking Ventures while maintaining a commitment to helping solve the Fentanyl and Opioid crisis.
Currently, my wife remains my best-sounding board but is mostly focused on community Board and volunteer efforts. One son and daughter are following their passion for technology and marketplaces, taking the lead at Marketplace Studio. Our other son is following his passion and is co-leading Bunking, along with myself. Our youngest daughter works part-time at Bunking and is having fantastic success at influencing.
18 Companies We Built Include…
Celebrating 37 Years - Cody Window Cleaning (Acquired)
We began building this company when I left high school in grade 10. It was the largest in the city and we had approximately 40 window washers when we sold the company. Cody Window Cleaning is still going strong and I believe that it remains the largest window cleaning company. We sold to our largest competitor to purchase a 20,000 sq ft building to grow our scaffolding business.
Celebrating 30 Years - Highrise Scaffolding (Acquired)
This company began due to providing the bid on the largest scaffolding job in our city at the time... we were awarded the contract. Our scaffolding inventory was low, however, we figured out a way to make it happen and the rest is history.
Celebrating 28 years - Lou X Rentals (Acquired)
We bought into this 50/50 deal of a local small tool rental operation that was struggling. Their hard work and experience combined with our capital, inventory and infrastructure, we were able to turn the company around. The founder purchased his share back and passed the business on to his son. It continues on today as a solid company.
Celebrating 28 years - Highrise/Matthews Heavy Equipment and Ariel Lifts (Acquired)
Due to sub-renting out many lifts ourselves to support both our scaffolding and window-cleaning company, we decided to begin a lift company. We became partners with Hertz Equipment Rental (owned by Ford Motor Company) at the time and they made an offer to acquire that we could not refuse.
Celebrating 27 years - Ottawa Bobcat Dealership (Acquired)
The local Bobcat Dealership had gone bankrupt when we were approached by a company from Toronto to partner on purchasing the dealership. At the time, I was 27 and the youngest person to ever purchase a Bobcat dealership. We were one of the top-performing branches in North America.
Celebrating 25 years - Cody Party Rentals & Balloon Design
This company began when my mother was getting married and we had to rent a tent, tables and chairs for the wedding. I found it to be a disappointing customer experience and felt that we could build it better... so we began Cody Party Rentals.
Celebrating 19 years - Lucious Linen Rentals (Acquired)
This business began because we were sub-renting so much linen while in the party rental business, we decided that we should begin our own linen rental business. The new owners purchased and renamed it and it has since been re-sold to and carries on today as a high level go-to for linen in the event industry.
Celebrating 13 years - Cody Mobile (Acquired)
This business was started for two main reasons. The first was because my wife was always annoyed that I didn't have enough time to bring our car in to get detailed, so I thought that if I began a mobile auto detailing business, it would easily solve that problem. The second was that I wanted to create a franchise system that would be low-risk for people and a franchise that would align with people's passions. The vision I had for this company sadly did not materialize as it was one of the three companies that we had to sell after our son passed away.
Celebrating 8 years - Better Software (Acquired)
After our son passed away in 2013, we had three companies on the go; (Cody Party Rentals, Cody Mobile and Monster Halloween). I could not get out of bed for 9 months, so we had no choice but to have a fire sale. By the time I recovered enough to get back to work, we had substantial debt and no companies. In an incredible ah ha moment, we realized had the custom software we had built to run our various companies. Just like that, we began selling the software. Very proud to say that this company was acquired by our management team.
Established 2021 - Marketplace Studio
This business began because we heard too many horror stories of others trying to build marketplaces. We also felt we could support amazing entrepreneurs with a marketplace vision, and domain knowledge and then combine that with our experience using design thinking and building our own marketplaces.
Established 2021 - Bunking.com
This one was built to help solve a family issue. My son and daughter wanted to live and work from a surf town for three months but could not afford it due to the high cost of a short-term rental. I suggested they rent the space and then rent out any extra rooms, couches etc to others and if they found enough people, it could cost them nothing. My daughter then asked how people would pay and how would they know if someone was an axe murderer. We could not find a solution to solve these problems, so Bunking.com was born.
Established 2022 - Bûnking Ventures
This like-minded real estate play was an opportunity to help our Bunking investors earn long-term wealth, create a curated supply option for Bunking and continually support the requirements of the Bunking community.
Established 2023 - Raw Entrepreneurship
This is really more of a passion project and started at the urging of my wife. We have worked with so many amazing people over our careers, and we have learned so much from... that we really wanted to share these truly inspiring stories.
The companies which have since closed:
Swing Stage Rentals - Closed 12 years after being acquired from us.
We started this company because we were renting out swing stages from other companies to clean highrise windows, so it just made sense to buy our own and start our own swing stage rental company. We ended up being the Spider dealer, which was a really big deal at the time. Our largest customer made us an offer that we could not refuse to buy the business from us.
Monster Halloween - Stores closed 8 years after being acquired from us because of the pandemic.
This business was born very unexpectedly. Our family was driving down a busy road on a mid-October day and we noticed a very big store with a huge Halloween banner and a tone of activity. We pulled over to see what was going on and ended up going into Ottawa's first Spirit Halloween store. It was exciting and absolutely packed. We got ourselves and 5 kids back into the car, I turned to my wife and told her that we were getting into the Halloween business, so Monster was born. Unfortunately, this was one of the three companies that we had to sell after our son passed away.
Click Costumes - Closed 8 years after being acquired from us because of the pandemic.
As an extension of Monster, it only made sense to start a separate online costume division, called Click Costumes. The foundation for starting this business was securing costume fulfilment for Sears, Walmart and Best Buy in Canada.
Perfect Party - Closed 8 years after being acquired from us because of the pandemic.
We started Perfect Party because we felt that there was an opportunity to create a business model where people could host home parties and sell party and celebration supplies to friends and family. One of our proudest success stories is that a Perfect Party representative bought a Perfect Party business for $49, worked really hard for approximately 3 years and ended up fulfilling her dream of being able to buy a Cody Party franchise.
Ruckify - Closed a little over a year after handing the reins to the co-founder.
With our deep passion and experience within the rental industry, we really wanted to build a marketplace so that everyone could enjoy the benefits of renting. After a few early tests, we realized that our biggest challenge was to actually change consumer behaviour. I felt that we could either spend a boatload of marketing dollars or we could have a public listing, and bring on shareholders that would help spread the word and enthusiasm. I picked that later and brought on a neighbour to do this job, which had taken a few companies public. I broke a cardinal rule and GAVE him half of our shares, which ended up being a dysfunctional partnership.