By Mario Toneguzzi
At a time when many Canadian businesses were shuttering their operations due to the pandemic, Canadian serial entrepreneur Doug Putman was expanding his portfolio.
Through his company Putman Investments, he recently purchased Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us. He’s also owner of T.Kettle, Sunrise Records, FYE (For Your Entertainment), Alex Brands, HMV Retail Ltd (UK), The Granite Restaurant (Bancroft, Ontario), Makin Waves Marine (Bancroft) and Everest Toys (Hamilton).
Despite the brutal economic challenges out there in recent times, Putman is positive and looking at further acquisitions in the near future.
“I think everyone has learned how to be a lot more nimble and to do a lot more with less whether it’s less employees,” he says. “You’ve really learned how to adapt quickly and I think you just have to be prepared for anything. Obviously no one was prepared for this but I think for us because we’ve bought so many distressed businesses and turned them around, it’s almost like we’re always just used to something kind of negative or bad happening. That’s how it goes when you’re buying a business that’s not doing well.
“So for a lot of people they’ve learned they are going to have to do more with less to get through this and be leaner.
“And probably you’ve learned you can get through anything. You’ve just got to keep pushing and keep going in that one direction and eventually it will get better. We’re not fully through it yet but hopefully we are shortly.”
Putman loves being an entrepreneur. Getting into new environments. Change is really important to him.
“I love the idea of a challenge. I love the thrill of the chase for sure – of trying to track down a deal and getting it over the line. I really love getting into the thick of a business and figuring out ways to either turn it around or make it better,” he says.
Entrepreneurs have to be comfortable with some form of risk and feel really good about that. It’s an everyday thing. Successful entrepreneurs have personalities that are dedicated to what they do. Always working. Always available.
“The last component I think is really important is being able to understand both sides of the coin. So when you’re negotiating for something, understanding what the other person needs and what you need and trying to find that middle ground. Everyone’s basically got to win to make the deal work.”