The Apprenticeship of Les Stewart

May 17, 2008

Justice is one of the four Cardinal Virtues.

My research clearly concludes that the last place for franchisee family investors to find justice is via any franchise bar/legal system.

franchising

Background and unique qualifications:

  • Franchise Industry in Ontario (Canada): franchisee families 40,000 (76,000), employees 400,000 to 600,000 (760,000 to 1,140,000), investments $2 to 8 billion ($3.8 to 15.2 billion), and annual sales $45 to 50 billion ($90 billion), Source
  • 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,
  • Budget analyst, Victoria Hospital, London, Ontario, (acute care regional teaching hospital, 3,500 FTEs, 1988-92),
  • founded the Canadian Alliance of Franchise Operators, CAFO, Canada’s 1st national franchisee association, Midhurst, ON 1998-present,
  • SLAPP 1.0 (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation): sued to silence: Nutri-Lawn‘s then owner, The Franchise Company (FirstService Corporation), represented by David Sterns and John Sotos,
  • 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, represented by Brian Macleod Rogers,
  • 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; early 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),
  • Stewart has been featured in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, CBC, PORFIT magazine, Continental Franchise Review, and Wall Street Journal, 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: 1200 posts, 277,713 views & 777 comments (since Feb 2008, Accessed April 26, 2018),
  • 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 Feb 2009, 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,
  • 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),
  • FranchiseGrade.com: The Authority on Franchising, developed data collection methods and hierachy structure and custom reports based on U. S. Franchise Disclosure Documents, FDDs, Les Paul Stewart Consulting: work has been featured in Businessweek, Entrepreneur, Inc., and the Wall Street Journal. 2004 – 2005,
  • Dr. Gillian K. Hadfield: Problematic Relations: Franchising and the Law of Incomplete Contracts, The Price of Law: How the Market for Lawyers Distorts the Justice Systemand
  • LinkedIn
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Are there 10 worthwhile spouse/clients in the +1,000 CDN Tim Hortons franchisee group?

February 18, 2015

Not likely because of their husband’s pride and material success.

Talent Vonnegut

If anyone can “save” Tim Hortons from the pirates, I can.

Conditions

  • 10 franchisees/business partners (both partners, self-organized),
  • introductory meeting at one of their homes (with 3 couples plus Les),
  • confidentiality and exclusive agreement,
  • $50,000 each deposited in trust for litigation fund,
  • $5,000 per month per family (pre-authorized withdrawal), and
  • a percentage on the end (vig).

Why I would want to work with any franchisee (ever again in my entire life) is a very, very good question.

“There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.”


The Canadian Alliance of Franchise Operators, CAFO

November 26, 2014

We created CAFO in 1998 to give voice to “mom-and-pop” franchise operators.

cafo_smvlogo

We were the 1st association in Canada to improve the commercial interests of 76,000 franchise families because:

  • there was no Ontario law,
  • there was no one for journalists to talk to,
  • there was no one for politicians to learn from,
  • there was no FranchiseFool.com and WikiFranchise.org, or and
  • there was nothing to protect the “little guys”.

And more importantly, there was no where for franchisees to talk confidentially with someone they could trust.

In 2014, heading into the 15th anniversary of the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), there are a lot of alternatives if franchisees wish to use them. (call: 705-737-4635)

This is one of the first articles (Sept 1998) in the Toronto Star called, Franchisees need fair-deal law:

LesStewartFRANCHISEE FIGHTER: Former franchisee Les Stewart has taken up the cause of franchisees.

WHAT PROTECTS A SMALL FRANCHISEE IN ONTARIO AGAINST UNFAIR DEALING BY THE FRANCHISOR CONTROLLING THE SYSTEM?

We asked Les Stewart, a landscaping supplies retailer in Barrie and a former franchisee and founder of the fledgling Canadian Association of Franchise Operators. (second of two parts)

Franchising is a $100 billion sector and a powerful concept of business organization. Many of Canada’s 76,000 franchise operators make a good buck.

But others, like Stewart, an MBA from the University of Western Ontario in London, have sad stories about being put into failing situations by deceptive franchisors, stripped of their savings and crushed by the costs of litigation in Ontario’s totally unregulated franchising regime.

Everyone warns prospective franchisees to investigate before investing, but exactly how are they supposed to check out the records of the 1,350 franchisors who want to sell them a business? Which are exemplary, which have reasonable standards of conduct, and which are practicing legalized fraud?

The best approach is to talk to franchisees in the system to find out whether head office delivers the business training and support it promises, and respects the commercial territories it purports to sell.

Unfortunately, there is no efficient way to identify and then locate those who have the most interesting tale to tell – the franchisees who failed. How many of these unfortunates have been spat out by each franchise system, who are they and why did they sell or go under?

Most U.S. states addressed this question with law decades ago, and Alberta adopted a similar standard in the 1990s. They require public disclosure of contract terms and verifiable disclosure of franchisee experience.

The laws cover all franchisors from mighty McDonald’s and across a business gamut that includes, among many others, such familiar names as Coffee Time, Mr. Sub, Mr. Lube, Giant Tiger, Mail Boxes Etc., First Choice Haircutters, Medichair, M&M Meat, Kiddie Kobbler, One Hour Motophoto, Ramada, Rent-a-Wreck, Ryan’s Quality Pet Foods, Shred-It, Servicemaster Lawn Care and about 1,340 others.

Ontario should have the disclosure Alberta has – and more, Stewart says. The law should allow franchisees to associate without fear of reprisal, and fact-finding to resolve disputes or affordable compulsory arbitration.

Any franchisee can go to court, says Stewart, but it’s no fun playing David to a franchisor’s Goliath in long and costly civil proceedings.

In Ontario, the Harris government’s draft legislation does not provide for a central registry of franchisor disclosures, and requires only that disclosure be made to a franchisee prospect before a contract is signed.

That’s essentially worthless, says Stewart. He says Queen’s Park should recognize franchising as an important function like banking or securities trading.

mike bear-webA little older with a unique background to bring to the table.

Still willing to talk to franchisees and their families.

Les Stewart Consulting: les.j.stewart@gmail.com


Tupperware, Les Stewart, CAFO and freedoms, 1

January 6, 2011

Franchise freedom of speech and association in Canada, circa 2004.

Two pages of a Record of Motion filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice by Michael Shell and Drazen Bulat on behalf of their client, Tupperware Canada Inc. on September 23, 2004.

– and-I voluntarily closed down the “TupperWars” section of CAFO‘s website in response to this challenge (see context). This happened days after we (for the first time) sent out a series of emails to U.S. franchisees/distributors.

We received zero requests to stop the emails from franchise investors.


Self-help: do not take justice into your own hands

November 14, 2010

Almost universally a bad idea if done outside of a larger strategy.

Always think:

In two years time, do I want to have a judge see me sink to a franchisor’s level?

Don’t go for the cheese in that trap: Everything in its proper time and place. Discipline, discipline, discipline. Come to the Court with clean hands. Two wrongs do not make a right. The Rule of Law (not the bully).

This is what I have learned over my apprenticeship.

Revenge is best served cold.


Career advice from Ray & Carol

October 30, 2010

Dear Carol and Ray,

People are spreading rumours that I am an untrustworthy, obsessed and unbalanced person.

Should I write a book or continue to be black-balled?

Signed,

Les


Anyone’s spirit can be shattered if mental pressure is applied skillfully enough

October 7, 2010

Franchising is like being in a war zone.

My experience and training suggests that running a franchise provides the same type of mental conditioning that happens in total institutions (ie. patient in a mental health hospital, recruit in military basic training, life on a naval vessel) without any form of appeal.

Many former franchisees see their time as a franchisee as they would imaging doing time in prison would be like. Most will confidentially talk openly of being mentally tortured. Many require significant mental health intervention to recover some degree of normalcy. Even years after their experience, the mere mention of their experiences triggers the strongest emotional response possible, many of which revolve around shame.

clinical depression :: affective disorders :: violence (self & others) :: divorce :: hospitalizations :: estranged children :: broken extended families :: suicide

Dr. Meerloo’s insights ring very true to me as a former franchisee and provide tremendous hope because they use a quantifiable and scientific approach rather than a one-dimensional, ad hominem attack- and shame-based legal view.

The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide and Brainwashing (free online), Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D., 1956

In Book: It is Dr. Meerloo’s position that through pressure on the weak points in men’s makeup, totalitarian methods can turn anyone into a “traitor.” And in The Rape of the Mind he goes far beyond the direct military implications of mental torture to describing how our own culture unobtrusively shows symptoms of pressurizing people’s minds. He presents a systematic analysis of the methods of brainwashing and mental torture and coercion, and shows how totalitarian strategy, with its use of mass psychology, leads to systematized “rape of the mind.” He describes the new age of cold war with its mental terror, verbocracy, and semantic fog, the use of fear as a tool of mass submission and the problem of treason and loyalty, so loaded with dangerous confusion…

The first two and on-half years of World War II, Dr. Meerloo spend under the pressure of Nazi-occupied Holland, witnessing at firsthand the Nazi methods of mental torture on more than one occasion. During this time he was able to use his psychiatric and psychoanalytical knowledge to treat some of the victims. Then, after personal experience with enforced interrogation, he escaped from a Nazi prison and certain death to England, where he was able, as Chief of the Psychological Department of the Netherlands Forces, to observe and study coercive methods officially.

In this capacity he had to investigate not only traitors and collaborators, but also those members of the Resistance who had gone through the utmost of mental pressure. Later, as High Commissioner for Welfare, he came in closer contact with those who had gone through physical and mental torture. After the war, he came to the United States, where his war experiences would not permit him to concentrate solely on his psychiatric practice, but compelled him to go beyond purely medical aspects of the problem.

As more and more cases of thought control, brainwashing, and mental coercion were disclosed…his interest grew. It was Dr. Meerloo who coined the term menticide, the killing of the spirit, for this peculiar crime.


A degree of self-loathing

August 30, 2010

Ivey MBA leader circa 2010?

I made it to a little over 2 minutes.

Leslie James Stewart, U.W.O. MBA 1987


Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature.

May 17, 2010

Once upon a time…

I’m free, 100% clean, I made it to the other side.

I behaved mostly okay, was given the gift of poverty without leaving home, and tried acted as if my life depended on it.

In business meetings, the old is always attended to before the new can be introduced (Tupperware, Country Style, Mr. Sub, Water Depot, WIP). The door’s open but the ride it ain’t free.

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.

It matters enormously if I alienate anyone from the truth.

All that we call human history–money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

Χάρων, C.S. Lewis 1898-1963, Fisher King 1, 2 1991


Elites treat all non-humans are as if they were children

March 7, 2010
SIR–I do not join in the belief that the African is our equal in brain or in heart; I do not think that the average negro cares for his liberty as much as an Englishman, or even as a serf-born Russian; and I believe that if we can, in any fair way, possess ourselves of his services, we have an equal right to utilize them to our advantage as the State has to drill and coerce a recruit who in a moment of intoxication has accepted the Queen’s shilling, or as a shopkeeper to order about a boy whose parents had bound him over to an apprenticeship. I say an equal right, because if soldiers were abased and degraded by their profession, or if the duties of an apprentice tended to make him a worthless member of society, it would be an iniquitous exercise of tyranny to take advantage of the position of these persons to their manifest injury. But when the soldier is taught self-respect, and is made into a nobler man than he could have become if left in his village, and if the apprentice is trained into a useful member of an industrious class, there can be no just complaint of tyranny. These persons are simply treated as children by their masters, and compelled to do what they dislike for their future good and for that of society at large.

— Negroes and the Slave Trade, London Times, Dec 26 Dec, 1857 Source

Sir Francis Galton FRS (16 February 1822 – 17 January 1911), cousin of Sir Douglas Galton, half-cousin of Charles Darwin, was an English Victorian polymath, anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, psychometrician, and statistician. He was knighted in 1909.


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