Take it slow, treat people right, work hard and let it grow organically. You can't force everything on your time. Do the right things and eventually success will happen.
- Joseph's business advice to long-time friend, Adam Watson
The summer before I started at the University of Western (without any of my friends joining me), I was introduced to Joseph. We hit it off right away and Joseph told me not to worry; I’d have a friend when I showed up the first day at school. True to his word, he called me on that first day to make sure everything was okay. Joe was three years older than me and while most seniors would shy away from bringing a freshman kid along with them, Joseph did the opposite and our friendship quickly grew.
In my second year, the big project was to develop a business idea. My group’s concept was printing ads on dry cleaning garment bags and we ended up winning the case competition of over 200 business concepts. When I told Joseph about it, he immediately showed interest and suddenly, he and I were discussing how we could actually turn the idea into a real business. To this day, I still can’t believe he influenced me to leave university early and turn a class project into a business – it’s a testament to his leadership and the confidence he gave me. My life has been forever changed by those conversations in February 2005. Somehow, Joe’s passion and vision made it seem like the logical thing to do.
We named the company Statements Media and began making endless cold calls and driving into Toronto from London for meetings with potential clients in between classes (or instead of classes!) I look back on that now and don’t know how we ever did it with zero contacts or experience. Garment ad bags had never been done in Canada and we didn’t even have a sample to show people. We were laughed out of countless agencies and businesses but Joseph believed our concept was a good one.
After hundreds of calls, we finally got a hit. Before we knew it, Joseph and I had busy schedules, managing print orders, delivering bags and going to meetings with new clients. Nothing was beneath him and Joseph did countless little things to make the business work. I always admired that. Just like with school, Joseph made business look effortless. He had a natural ability to make the right decisions and people couldn’t help but gravitate towards him and his ideas. He was genuine, passionate and had a keen eye for what people wanted.
We ran Statements for nearly three years, selling hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of our ad bags. Ultimately, Joseph joined the family business but he always remained my go-to source for advice. We would meet for lunch weekly and bounce ideas off one another. I could be completely honest with him and I always knew I was getting honesty back. He remained just as motivating and encouraging over the past decade, sharing in my successes like they were his own – he always wanted those around him to do well.
Today, Statements Media has 10 employees and millions in annual sales, built on the original foundation that Joe created. I still can’t believe we turned a class project into a profitable business and, without Joseph, I would never have been running Statements 14 years later. A few years after we started Statements, the Richard Ivey School of Business did a case study on our company – a case that’s studied at business schools around the world. It was a real honour for us both.
Joe understood good things take time. He was never looking for shortcuts or quick dollars. And he had this natural ability to make people feel good about themselves and their ideas. Most of all, Joseph conducted business the same way he carried himself – always with integrity and class and it never took people long to recognize that in him, including me.
Thanks for everything, Joe.