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12 2011

Celebrating Canadian Business

Syndicated from: Your Planning Partners

For some obscure reason it has been decided (by whom I do not know) that October is small business month. Never one to miss an opportunity for a celebration I thought we should celebrate Canadian business. And so let me introduce you to two of Canada’s many successful businesses. In just 30 years these 2 companies grew from a 1 person operation to hundreds. Dufflet – “Toronto’s pre-eminent purveyor of fine pastries.” When Judi, from Your Planning Partners, was starting her first business (Windflower – a retail store in upscale Yorkville,Toronto) she met another young woman who was also starting her first business. Her new friend was Dufflet Rosenberg and she was using her kitchen to make exquisite cakes for a few exclusiveTorontorestaurants. Fast forward to today. Dufflet cakes are no longer the preserve of the few rich and famous patrons of those restaurants. We can all enjoy these marvelous creations because they are now available across Canada in restaurants, tea rooms and supermarket chains. The home kitchen has been replaced by a very large bakery. The few restaurants of the early years have been replaced by a distribution system covering all of Canadaand many states in the USA.  Dufflet Pasteries could have easily morphed into yet another mass producer of sweet stuff. But it didn’t. It stuck to its values and remains known for its high quality pastries. What is the secret to their success? Dufflet herself puts it down to finding and hiring the right people. While the right team is an essential ingredient to business success I have another opinion. Dufflet has stuck to her knitting. She knows what she does well and has created an organization that can replicate her talent over and over again. She has stayed focused on her core business. The company started making pastries and still makes pastries. No wonder Dufflet is known as the “Queen of Cakes”! Lee Valley Tools – fine tools for the serious craftsman In 1977 a very bored civil servant in Ottawa called Leonard Lee started a mail order business on the side selling wood burning stove kits. Just 30 years later Lee Valley Tools employs 800 people, has a chain of stores across Canada, a manufacturing plant and thousands of international customers buying from its famous catalogue. Lee Valley Tools has moved on from a single product company and is now famous for the specialized tools it designs and makes for the serious woodworker. Lee Valley Tools has probably the strongest and without doubt bravest customer satisfaction guarantee that I have ever seen. To quote from its web site: Any product may be returned within 3 months at no cost to the customer; we return every penny you paid us, plus, for shipments within North America, we will refund your return parcel post costs. People of a certain age will remember that at one time mail strikes were a common occurrence putting mail order companies like LeeValley in the unenviable position of being able to sell nothing! Thus it was in 1981 when Leonard Lee heard on the radio the then minister in charge of the post office André Ouelette say, “I can’t accept that businessmen have to rely on the post office to make a living. If they do, they better find other ways.”  So Leonard went out and opened their first store! If you want to understand the secret to Lee Valley Tools’ success visit one of its stores. There you will meet people who truly want to help you, have a deep understanding of all their products (both good and bad!) and genuinely want you to get the very best product without digging yourself into debt. Congratulations to both these companies for achieving great success without compromising your values and beliefs. Be sure to visit our website at

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