As a child, Ron Lovett earned money any way he could – shovelling snow, managing three paper routes and giving five dollar haircuts to friends. At the age of 22, he started Source Security & Investigations to offer security services to nightclubs, and for events. Eight years later, the company now employs 450 licensed guards across Canada and its credentials include Canadian Idol and The Rolling Stones.
When I was a kid, I frequently went looking for discarded scratch-and-win tickets. Once a week, I’d find one that someone didn’t check properly and I’d make $20. That was the big money maker of the day.
I have always been an entrepreneur; some might say a serial entrepreneur. I was involved in a variety of businesses and had no financing to do it. I learned a valuable lesson: it’s great to have 10 businesses, but if you can’t devote the time and attention to run them all, you’re sure to fail.
A major milestone for this business was the 2005 Rolling Stones concert in Moncton. We had 365 employees responsible for the security of approximately 85,000 people. For it to all come together and be so successful was huge for us. It opened many doors on the entertainment side of the business.
If you’re young and you know what you want to do, go to university. If you’re unsure, you may want to try something else before you commit to that and rack up debt.
It’s okay to fail. I’ve had many failures, which is great because, as stressful as they were, that’s been my university. I mean, look at me. I’m 30 and I look 55!
In 2007, four of my security guards were stabbed working a back-to-school dance at the Halifax Forum. Something like that will either break you completely or make you stronger as a person, and as an entrepreneur. I certainly learned how to deal with the media very quickly.
After the stabbing, I was really angry that it happened. I had a lot of negative energy and knew I had to do something with it pretty fast. I realized that I was not giving back enough to the community, so I decided to become a foster parent. That was a big undertaking for me. It changed my life. I strongly believe in the motto, “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”
My leadership style is communal appreciative leadership. I try to lead by appreciation and develop leaders below me. I try to bring out those strengths in my employees and build a team of people who have their own brand, and are leaders in their own right. That’s important for any organization. The president can’t be the only leader.
Recently, one of our guards in Victoria, BC, Matt Sanderson, saw a woman who appeared to be in distress. She had an erratic pulse, shallow breathing and was very pale, so he called an ambulance, which saved her life. This business is filled with both positive and negative stories and every one is a new opportunity for the company to learn and grow.
My vision is to grow the Source Security & Investigations brand so that anyone could approach our guards for assistance, just like they would the police. You walk into an event or building where we’re providing security and we’re there to help.
Entrepreneurs in Atlantic Canada tend to be old school. The thinking goes that, if it hasn’t been done, you can’t do it. But that gives you an opportunity to do it, and to make a difference. So, as tough as it can be to do business here, you can break new ground and set trends, people will follow you.
I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t travel. I like to rough it. I’ll sleep in hammocks and youth hostels because it keeps me grounded. Travel makes you wiser, not smarter. It opens your eyes so you look at things differently
My goals were to get involved in real estate, start a business and have investments – all by the age of 18. I actually opened my first RRSP account when I was 16 after reading Garth Turner’s RRSP Guide. I remember the financial advisor saying, “You’re 16, what are you doing?” But I always had a plan.
Interviewed by Mark Surrette, president, Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette – Atlantic Canada’s leading recruitment and human resource consulting firm. Leader’s Insight conversations are published in each issue of Atlantic Business Magazine. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org