CEO, FHC ENTERPRISES
Jason Mcdougall convinced Hudson's Bay Co. to sell him Fields, a chain of 57 small-town discount stores across Canada, with no idea how he would come up with the financing. Founded in 1948 by Vancouver billionaire Joe Segal, the retailer had been owned by HBC since 1978. But in 2011, the parent company announced that it was closing Fields.
“It was a crazy, hair-raising process,” Mcdougall says of assembling a $1-million non-refundable deposit by April 2012. The FHC Enterprises chief executive, who grew up in the village of Liberty, Saskatchewan, borrowed against all his assets and called in favours from friends. To close the deal a month later, he had to secure another $12 million in bank loans.
Then came the task of reviving a moneylosing business. Mcdougall's first move was to reinstate an employee benefits plan that HBC had cancelled, “even though we couldn't afford it.” Sales dropped significantly in the first month, taking a few weeks to recover. Today Mcdougall is seeing returns from his community-focused approach, which gives store managers autonomy to respond to local needs. Over the past six years, revenue has grown by more than 50 percent. Delta-headquartered Fields is now profitable, with 62 locations across B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories–and plans for more.