Venturing into the unknown
With strong support, it can be easier to make the journey towards entrepreneurship.
Both Cameron and Robert really valued their time at EY. Robert had worked in Financial Services for seven years and Cameron had worked in Transaction Advisory Services for over five years. Eventually they knew they were ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship and set out to do it together. When they announced they were leaving, they received a lot of support and advice from those within the EY organization.
“A lot of the partners were quite excited for Rob and I,” Cameron remembers. “Oftentimes they made introductions to people in the healthcare field. Some of them made introductions to bankers, lawyers, and basically asked ‘What do you need to run a “small-and medium-sized company?’”
Robert agrees. “I still run tax questions by the firm. We've kept in contact with quite a few people and I've definitely found, over the years, it's been good to bounce some ideas off some of the people that still work there.”
When setting up their business, Robert and Cameron used their own skills to their advantage. “Me and Cam, we're polar opposites,” Robert says. “Cam's the analytical, detailed person, which makes sense. In his time at EY he was on transactions, and he is really experienced in analytics and it makes our company very strong. I learned a skill set that was more high paced. For me I was always a lot more energetic, doing 20 things at once and moving very quickly.”
Understanding those differences and seeing them as a strength is one of the reasons they have been so successful in creating not only an exciting business, but one that has an inclusive culture and values their people and customers above all else.
Building a business with purpose
Being an entrepreneur is more meaningful with a team who shares your passion.
Cameron and Robert started their search for a business venture in 2011. They knew they were interested in environmentally sustainable products and specifically healthcare. Despite not having any experience in the sector, it was an exciting space for them, because they knew they could make a difference to thousands of people’s lives.
“We wanted to add value, we wanted to do things differently, and we also liked the equipment side and the service side where you really could make a difference,” Robert remembers.
HME Home Health does just that. The business helps improve the lives of seniors and those with disabilities by providing them with medical equipment and services that allow them to live more comfortably. Today, HME Home Health is one of the largest independent dealers of Mobility and Home Medical Equipment in British Columbia with over 100 staff.
And it’s those employees whom they call the company’s “secret sauce.” Bucking an industry trend, most of HME’s staff are young. Keen to change the status quo, the pair hires a diverse team from different backgrounds that understands the mission and believes in the company’s culture. Like Robert and Cameron, most of them have no experience in the sector. “Almost 99.9% of our staff are all greenfield” he says, “what that means is, we train them from the ground up. One of our core philosophies has been to have that constant, where we're hiring, training, and building new and fresh.”
It may sound like a risky proposition, but it works. There is very low turnover of staff, and everyone is motivated and engaged. While they work towards a five and 10 year roadmap for growth, it’s not always a straight line. “We're going to continue to expand into different areas of healthcare, whether it's new offices, new products, new divisions. For us, it's a constant pursuit of going further into what we do right now,” says Cameron.
Having the opportunity to learn from each other’s entrepreneurial journey supported the pair.
It’s entrepreneurial spirit and ambition that propels Robert and Cameron’s business and provides them with recognition among their peers. Their potential continues to be recognized at EY, and they have been Entrepreneur of the Year Canada finalists in both 2016 and 2021.
Cameron and Robert continue to benefit from the experience, and like the EY alumni network, stay in touch with other entrepreneurs they’ve met in the process.
“When you see companies that were in your cohort or in the same year, you identify with that,” Cameron says. “And so, when I see someone from the Entrepreneur of the Year program, it's a talking point, it's a connection that you have with somebody.”
Robert agrees. “It's really inspiring when you meet them and hear their story. I find you always take something away, and you learn from that person, each time you meet.”
When looking back at their time at EY, Robert says it’s important the relationship is mutually beneficial. “It's what you put into it. I find the EY teams are always there, and the people are engaging. If you engage back, you'll get as much, or as little, as you want out of it. And me and Cam, we've put quite a bit into it, and the EY networks has put quite a bit into it, and so it's a really nice relationship; and I think it just speaks volumes that six, seven, eight, nine years later, we still have that.”
Taking a leap into the unknown is never a straight line. Having strong support along the way is key to success. The networks can provide you with the tools and advice you need on your journey of entrepreneurship.