Canadian bizman plays hero to Syrians, speaks of work ethics

Chennai: I’ll be honest. I had never heard of Jim Estill until I stumbled upon a Facebook video about his incredible altruistic deed. Jim has spent over $1.5 million to help 50 Syrian refugee families resettle in Canada.

He is the CEO of Danby Appliances, a firm that specialises in Home Appliances. I got in touch with Jim via email.

“It was a humanitarian crisis,” he says and adds, “One of my mantras and Danby’s tagline is Do the Right Thing. So how could I stand by and do nothing?”

Jim shared me his TED Talk video where he speaks about his dive into the painting business and how he eventually started Danby. Today, his company earns in millions. Jim comes from a very humble background, growing up in rural Woodstock in Ontario.

He sold cabbages from his garden, coals that fell from trains, worked as a lifeguard, swim instructor, as a dispatcher in a taxi company, janitor and even as an assistant cook in a cafeteria. Speaking to News Today, this businessman/ philanthropist shared some vital tips on entrepreneurship and how to make a dent in the universe.

This is the first part of a series that will demystify business by a unique bunch of entrepreneurs.

On selling
As you can see from the jobs I did, selling was a part of some of them. And for me, selling soon turned to marketing,” says Jim.

“I would walk into a neighbourhood and drop flyers. Often personalising them with: I noticed your garage could use painting. I could do that for $100.

Courtesy and work ethics
Jim says that in the painting business, his competitors had a reputation for being rude and not punctual.
“It was an easy competitive advantage to simply take my shoes off when I went in a house and to show up when we said we would. Part of the process was to have a garbage bag and remove any garbage we found in hedges or near where we were painting,” says Jim.

He adds, “And as for work ethic, I do not think I have ever worked less than 50 hours in a week and many weeks much more than that. Again, it gives me a competitive advantage if my competitors work less.”

Networking and learning
Jim firmly believes in listening. “Good listeners learn more and sell more,” he says. “I always try to add value to clients. If I can pass them a lead or an article that might interest them, I do.”

He is a strong advocate for using Linkedin as a networking tool and says, “I send daily updates and of course, simple email works to keep in touch. In networking, I try to add value always without expecting anything in return.”

One of his principles is to be a constant learner. He loves to read books about and written by entrepreneurs. “I mostly learn from other entrepreneurs by being insatiably curious. I am a big reader,” he says.

Create a lasting impact
Jim’s mantra is ‘do the right thing’. After all, that’s the tagline of his company. “It’s a simple way to live life and a simple way to run a business,” he signs off.