The Apprenticeship of Les Stewart

It takes a special background to be effective in dealing with modern corporations.franchising

Some background:

  • born on RCAF Station Senneterre, PQ, 1959,
  • school: Cedarview and Forest Hill in Midhurst, St. Mary’s, St. Joseph’s and North Collegiate in Barrie (Grade 13: 1978),
  • twice a franchisee (Arjay Painting and Nutri-Lawn, Midhurst, ON),
  • a franchisee’s crew Barrie and 1st assistant manager, Orillia 3254, McDonald’s Canada (B.O.C., Silver Hat, & AAA, 1972-80),
  • general BA, 1983, Western University and MBA, 1987, Ivey Business School, London, ON,
  • Medical audit coordinator, St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital, St. Thomas, ON (1987, provincial psychiatric hospital),
  • Budget analyst, Victoria Hospital, London, Ontario, (acute care regional teaching hospital, 1988-92),
  • founded the Canadian Alliance of Franchise Operators, CAFO, Canada’s 1st national franchisee association, Midhurst, ON 1998-present,
  • SLAPP 1.0: sued to silence: Nutri-Lawn‘s then owner, The Franchise Company (FirstService Corporation),
  • SLAPP 2.0 sued for faxing 150 U.S. Tupperware distributors a website invitation and Toronto Star article while representing 7 former CDN Tupperware distributors, (Tupperware Canada Inc.), TupperWarsSLAPP,
  • took my franchised lawn care business independent in 1998 (Lawn Depot),
  • represented myself at an injunction hearing, franchisor unsuccessfully sought to enforce their non-compete clause, Barrie, ON, 1999 (Justice Paul Herminston, Barrie), favourable outcome,
  • 5 day civil trial, (Justice Katherine Swinton, Toronto,  May 1999) and lost $134,000 unfavourable outcome,
  • unpaid policy analyst for Mr. Tony Martin, NDP MPP, Sault Ste. Marie, ON 1998 to 2001 (provincial, federal politician),
  • expert witness at public hearing which lead to Ontario’s first franchise law, Toronto, ON (Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), 2000),
  • created the Information Sharing Project and submitted unsuccessful project proposal to the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Affairs in 2003 (digital teaching, due diligence and business risk assessment tool; embryonic form of WikiFranchise.org),
  • identified and wrote a paper on Predatory Franchise Lending to Industry Canada, 2005 (18 month investigation: bank, consultant, franchisor, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Minister of Finance, RCMP Commercial Crime Unit, OBSI, FCAC, PMO, etc.),
  • case preparation for a +$6-million civil law suit based on predatory lending principles (2005, Oudovikine),
  • media contributor, 1997 – present,
  • contributed to the Prince Edward Island, Ontario, West and South Australian franchise inquires,
  • Blue MauMau contributor: 459 posts (since Oct 2007),
  • founded and editor of FranchiseFool.com weblog: 1,177 posts, 246,629 views & 645 comments (since Feb 2008, Accessed April 14, 2017),
  • founded and co-editor of WikiFranchise.org: a no-charge wiki that assigns corporate and personal reputations more accurately and durably via indexed already-published articles and documents: 208,821 unique visitors, 331,676 visitors, 1,283,386 pages, 2,229,354 hits and 65.8 GB bandwith (since , same),
  • endorsed Bill 102, An Act to amend the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), September 23, 2010,  Legislative Assembly of Ontario (start @ 1440),
  • attended the International Association of Franchisees and Dealers annual conference, Indianapolis, 2010,
  • attended Ontario Bar Association annual Franchise Law Conference (2009 and 2010),
  • leadership training and support to independent franchisee associations (members, boards and executives),
  • team member: management consulting team specializing in mom-and-pop business format franchising,
  • pre-trial development of large-scale group and class action legal actions,
  • independent franchisee association: leadership development, creation, training, pre-trial case legal case development (National Bread Network: Maple Leaf Foods/Canada Bread 1,000 CDN Dempster’s franchisees, leader’s blog, case preparation for a +$300-million class action law suit based on good faith, right to associate and mental distress ($50,000 award for one franchisee, 2008-2012),
  • founded Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition (About, Media coverage): community group successful in helping rescue a 477 acre (192 ha.) provincial park, significant head waters to RAMSAR wetland and world’s longest freshwater beach,
  • founded and editor of SpringwaterParkcc.org: 523 posts, 477,609 views & 139 comments (since Oct 2012, Accessed April 14, 2017), and
  • LinkedIn
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2 Responses to The Apprenticeship of Les Stewart

  1. Carol Cross says:

    After our family’s failure with The UPS Store Franchise, I started to research the industry of franchising in an effort to find out what happened to us and others, and why? Were we victims? How had we contributed to our own bad outcome? Were we tricked by appearances and advertising and a government disclosure document that was misleading? How many franchisees fail and are hidden from public view, etc. and from the view of new buyers? Why wasn’t there greater public knowledge about the dangers and the great risks inherent in franchising and in franchise agreements? Is this all legal?

    In the beginning of my original research, I came across Les Stewart’s website and definitions of franchise terms, etc.. and for the first time, I was comforted in that my suspicions and uneasy feelings about franchising were confirmed by another, who had experience and great knowledge about franchising. Les Stewart was trying to spread the word and he didn’t pull any of his punches about the “evil” of the very nature of franchising in terms of the cruel and brutal exploitation of the weaker party with immunity and impunity under existing laws.

    I wrote or called Les Stewart (can’t remember which) and I was comforted to find another human being who not only could identify with the pain but who had great expertise and knowledge about the industry and its practices and the great “malice” that so often lies just below the surface of the sales hype and actual sale in the form of the “franchise agreement.” The franchise agreement DOES put a loaded gun in the hands of the franchisor who knows he can kill you in arbitration and the courts or hold you hostage for ten years or more with no profits with immunity and impunity under the law. Franchisors are not subject to the constraints of “truth in advertising laws” and are free to put frosting on the carrot that is then disclaimed in the actual franchise asgreement.

    It was Les Stewart who introduced me to the Blue Mau Mau Site and who suggested that I could learn and post my observations, as well, and that I would perhaps help myself as well as others to understand the “bad” experience, and that others might be warned, as well.

    I did learn from Blue Mau Mau and I did post my own comments for many months, but eventually I was blocked from this site as well as Franchise Pundit because, I assume, of my criticism of the FTC Regulatory Policy and my belief (confirmed by experts and attorneys) that this regulatory policy of the FTC was developed to protect the franchisors at the expense of the prospective franchisee, who does not get disclosure of the material risk of the investment itself under the provisions of the FTC Rule that governs franchising and the State disclosure document, the FDD (formerly the UFOC).

    It seems obvious to me, if not to others, that The FTC Rule does not mandate UNIT financial performance statistics be disclosed by franchisors and after 30 years, the majority of the franchisors in the US make no representations whatsoever concerning the performance of their unit franchisees in the official disclosure document —not even an “earnings” claim. This, of course, together with their carefully designed contracts with the Integration and Reliance Clauses gives the franchisors almost 100% protection against charges of fraud in arbitration or the courts and the permission to lie, cheat, and steal, as needed, to maximize the profits of the System.

    The Internet and the great University of Google does act as The University of the People of the world in the Global Economy and it will be more difficult for franchisors and the status quo of big and little franchising to continue to HIDE the truth about franchising from the public who buys them.

    Hopefully, Les Stewart and the other “experts” who warn will make a difference and, hopefully, I, an amateur investigator and reporter-poster. can help as well. Les tells me that he welcome my comments and will not bar or block my computer because I am politically incorrect.

    Thanks, Les Stewart!

    Like

  2. franchisefool says:

    I would rather listen forever to one amateur but authentic voice then have to wade through the lies and BS that passes for “franchise expertise”.

    I have never considered this a popularity contest and I live with my life’s choices every day. Often, money costs too much and there are a lot worse things than economic poverty.

    Carol, the smarter apologists know the Mom-and-Pop phase of franchisng is over. They know 1,000 times more than I do but you and I know the odor of decay when when we smell it.

    It’s not IF, but When they will come groveling.

    Liked by 1 person

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