How She Did It: Mandy Rennehan, founder and Blue-Collar CEO of Freshco.ca
If Mandy Rennehan’s entrepreneurial success story doesn’t inspire you to get up and get moving towards your goals, we suggest you check your pulse. The Blue-Collar CEO of Freshco.ca, a boutique construction firm that dubs itself “The Fun Company,” Mandy is an award-winning entrepreneur who started with nothing on the East Coast of Canada and has built a name for herself in the competitive GTA and across Canada and the U.S. Today, the Freshco.ca brand is synonymous with quality, excellence, and integrity. Here’s how she did it.
How did you know that entrepreneurship was the right path for you?
I didn’t. It chose me at a very young age. I was born and raised in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, a fishing town. By the age of 10 I was foraging for bait and selling it to local fisherman for profit.
Did you talk to anyone for business advice or direction on what steps to take?
I actually didn’t know what to ask people, so I watched and listened to everything going on around me and learned that way. I purposefully chose to take on the projects that would have the most impact to help build my credibility and business — some worked, some didn’t!
How did you fund your business in the beginning? Did you need any start-up capital?
Sweat equity was all I had. I saved every penny until I became my own line of credit. After five years of self-funding the business, the bank gave me a line of credit because I had real cash flow and, by then, credibility.
How did you land your first client?
Word of mouth. I took on a big project for free, to prove myself and my work ethic, and it paid off with the referrals that got my business rolling.
How did you scale your business to the next level?
I visualized the goal and started climbing, like I did when I first started my business; except this time, I strategically picked people who added value in the areas that weren’t my strengths. Together we are an unbeatable powerhouse. Many of my original core team are still with Freshco today.
“We have found a happy medium of the collaboration between human connection and technology that is a force in the industry.”
Has your business gone through any transformations since you began?
A million and six! My team has grown and evolved, and technology has made things both better and worse. To get the consistency and quality Freshco.ca is known for, we realized we had to train and mentor all new staff in-house. The whole process takes a year! It is a massive investment but essential to ensure the customer service and quality we have become known for is maintained. In our conservative industry we are known as the Fun Company because we make fun a priority. All our staff have their caricatures on their business cards, they wear cheeky uniforms on job sites, and do amazing work with an awesome attitude – our clients love it! We have found a happy medium of the collaboration between human connection and technology that is a force in the industry. We have an incredible project management and booking system that allows projects to be booked together, based on location, and saves our clients hundreds of thousands a year in trip fees. We have also created a custom Clean Room to allow us to work and contain dust and debris without impacting a functioning retail location. We are also the first in Canada to use the Fortis Exoskeleton in a construction application to reduce fatigue and injury — the list goes on.
Looking back, how much of your success do you attribute to luck, and how much do you attribute to your skill, personality, or intelligence?
I believe I was lucky to be born with all three. For that I am grateful.