CFA National Convention | April 22-24, 2018 | Ottawa, Ontario | Register Now
In November 1966, a young man arrived in Canada from post-war Europe with a dream of building a better life for himself and his young family.
Fifty years later, U. Gary Charlwood and his sons Martin and Christopher head an international franchise company with more than 1,800 locations in 67 countries. The story of Charlwood Pacific Group is one of Canada’s most inspiring home-grown success stories, and is a true testament to the power of franchising.
Born in Germany in 1941, Gary Charlwood grew up in England after his father was killed in World War II and his mother remarried to a British soldier. He spent his childhood between Germany and England, becoming fluent in both languages.
As a youth, he travelled across Europe, working as a musician and tour guide. “That was an important lesson early in life about how to generate income for yourself,” says Charlwood of his introduction to entrepreneurship. “Tips were a major part of my income as a tour guide. The better the job, the bigger the tip!”
The ambitious young Charlwood always dreamed of leaving Europe for the “new world” and almost chose Australia as his new home (“I thought Canada would be too cold,” he recalls). His plans changed when a friend from the Canadian embassy in Vienna, where Charlwood was active in the travel agency community, convinced him to move to Vancouver. So, in 1966, 24-year-old Charlwood set sail for Canada.
Charlwood spent his first few nights in Vancouver at the local YMCA, but quickly found a house to rent and secured work as an airline reservations agent. Within four weeks, he was able to bring his wife – now pregnant with their second child – and son Christopher to join him in Vancouver.
Money was tight for the young family. “We had to have coffee cups with money for gas, food, and rent,” he says. He earned extra money by playing in a musical ensemble, which eventually became the house band at the legendary Commodore Ballroom in downtown Vancouver.
Over time, Charlwood worked his way up the corporate airline ladder, but was unhappy with his income. “One day, I looked at my paycheque and I looked at my title, and the two didn’t really jive,” he says. “I thought to myself ‘you emigrated all the way from Europe for a better life. This is your one shot. You’re about to turn 30. How can you make a better life for yourself?’”
Adding to his sense of urgency was the threat of being laid off as a result of a potential airline takeover of his company. “I realized then that the biggest security in life is to rely on yourself – so I went into business for myself.”
To hear more of Gary’s incredible success story, attend his Keynote Presentation at CFA National Convention and discover how to build a successful sales culture in your organization. Register now!
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