When Greg Freeman graduated from Trent University in 1991, joining the family business wasn’t the immediate goal. “I knew I’d join it at some point, but I had a chip on my shoulder that I had to earn my value elsewhere. To show that I could do something on my own.”
He went and worked for London Life, but in late ’92, unhappy with the insurance business, he joined his father, Fred, to help run Crown Ridge Health Care Services Inc. – the retirement home and long-term care business Fred had launched in the late 1970s.
The business had started with a single home in Trenton, Ontario, which Fred – a trained chef – had bought from a client who he’d done banquets for. Over the decades, Crown Ridge added more beds for long-term care, assisted living, and then retirement living. Locations were opened in nearby Napanee and Belleville. Fred, now 70, is still president, but mostly retired; Greg, 50, has been CEO since 2002 and runs the day-to-day operations. Under Greg’s watch, the company has doubled in size.
“The more I asked questions, the more I realized that we were exactly the entrepreneurial company that QuantumShift is meant to help – and I’m that entrepreneurial person.”
In May of 2017, wanting to take Crown Ridge to the next level, Greg enrolled in the QuantumShift program. “At first, I was a little intimidated,” he says. “I thought it was an M.B.A.-ish program for big companies.” But he soon realized the power of QuantumShift. “The more I asked questions, the more I realized that we were exactly the entrepreneurial company that QuantumShift is meant to help – and I’m that entrepreneurial person.”
A pivotal moment in the program came when one QuantumShift instructor asked, “Do you work on your business or in your business?” Returning to Trenton, Greg decided things needed to change at Crown Ridge – that he needed to spend more time on his business. He developed a new corporate mission – “Embracing Life’s Journey” – and five core values. From those values came new programs created for residents – including the Wishes and Dreams program.
“We say to residents, ‘What is your one wish that you didn’t do in life?’” One resident, confined to a wheelchair, wanted to be able to downhill ski. One of Crown Ridge’s caregivers, a former ski instructor, took the lead in making sure the wish came true.
“Everybody thought, How is this gentleman, at 78, ever going to ski? And she made it happen with the ski patrol. It cost no money, and the family is ecstatic,” says Greg. “The man’s brother, who’s a doctor and is one of the physicians who comes into our homes, said, ‘I’ve never seen my brother so happy in 15 years.’ It brought tears to their eyes.”
Working on the business has allowed Greg to create an environment where everyone now feels at home. “It’s changing the focus back to our mission, Embracing Life’s Journey,” he says. “Our whole focus is now on that – not just giving care. Every long-term care home provides care. Now, we’re trying to make it a living, breathing thing for all the stakeholders involved – not just the residents, but also the staff, the families and the community.”
A rigorous five-day executive development experience offered through The Ivey Academy, QuantumShift™ annually challenges forty of Canada's most promising entrepreneurs to improve their leadership style, inspire their business partners and maximize their growth opportunities. QuantumShift™ is for CEOs whose businesses are past start-up. They're innovative, insightful business leaders. And they're ready to shift a thriving enterprise to a whole new level of success. Candidates are nominated through KPMG Enterprise and participants are selected by Ivey Business School's Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship.
As QuantumShift™ turns 15, we check in with some of the more than 550 Canadian entrepreneurs who have graduated from the program to see what the experience meant to them and their business.