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Paul Bronfman and Paul Potvin share tips on expanding and growing your business

Comweb/Whites chairman and CEO Paul Bronfman (left) and Whites LES president Paul Potvin (right) hosted Vancouver film and television industry guests at the annual William F. White International VIP reception held at the Fairmont Pacific Rim.

Surviving the startup phase and building a successful business is an incredible accomplishment. Investing time and sweat equity—apart from money—are key components of growing any business, as many entrepreneurs know. So what do you do if you want to take your business to the next level through expansion? Perhaps you have considered opening up another location or acquiring another successful business.

The best approach to business growth goes beyond the resources and kind of business you have, according to Paul Bronfman, chairman and CEO of Comweb / William F. White (Whites), and Paul Potvin, president of Whites Location Equipment Supply Inc. (Whites LES).

Comweb / Whites has rapidly expanded its services, becoming Canada’s only national single-source solution for film equipment and location support services. The company recently announced its acquisition of Vancouver’s Parallel Rentals Inc., now renamed Whites Parallel. This development follows Comweb / Whites’ recent $1-million investment in the new Calgary Film Centre; and expansion into Sudbury, Ontario; in addition to the acquisition of Vancouver’s Telescopic Camera Cranes Inc., now part of Whites LES.

Last year, Bronfman and Potvin, too, sat across from each other in negotiation after Bronfman cold-called Potvin and offered to purchase his 22-year old business, Location Equipment Supply Inc. (LES), which Potvin grew from his Toronto garage. Potvin now sits as a key member of the overall Whites management team and in turn, led the successful acquisition of Parallel in Vancouver.

For those aspiring to take the first steps in growing a business, Bronfman and Potvin share their top six business tips on how to expand successfully and what to expect from the process.

1. The right people for the right job

“I once read in a business book years ago that it’s about getting the right people on the right bus, and in the right seats in that right bus,” says Potvin.

As in the case of the Parallel acquisition, Bronfman entrusted Potvin as the right man for the job. “Frankly we would not have done the Parallel acquisition without Whites LES president Paul Potvin because this man has the expertise in that area of the business. So it was a logical, almost no brainer thing for us to do,” says Bronfman.

“You’ve got to have the right people internally to manage that growth and expansion,” adds Bronfman. “Just buying the equipment and buying capital without the right people is a waste of time, you’ve got to have the right group of people that take you to expand the company.”

2. The right kind of growth

According to Bronfman and Potvin, ensuring that the company grows in a manner that continues to appeal to current customers is key. Otherwise, customers might question your commitment to their needs.

“I think the company should grow from the core out. Build on your strengths. I’m into horizontal integration as opposed to vertical. Our route at Whites is to expand horizontally. In other words, we are appealing to the same clients but offering more goods, more services, more opportunities and incentives for the customers to do business with us,” says Bronfman.

“So it’s got to be controlled growth, organic growth, and growth not just for the sake of making it bigger, because bigger isn’t necessarily better as has been proven time and again.”

Potvin agrees, “Focusing on how best to serve customers is important and that’s what Whites LES and Whites Parallel continues to be about. It’s about doing what we can to keep the customer happy.”

Adds Bronfman: “Over and above just being a supplier, adding value to the relationship that may seem intangible, but over the long run, it means a lot to the client. Trust, integrity, reliability and no surprises.”

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