Mandy Rennehan: Blue-Collar CEO™
Mandy Rennehan is a Founder & CEO of Freshco (not the grocery store), WBE Canada certified business. Mandy is a highly regarded leader with many accolades, including WXN’s Top 100 Canadian Women and Profit Magazine’s Top 100. In 2017 she received RBC’s Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Award. Mandy came from humble beginnings as the daughter of a Lobster fisherman in Yarmouth NS and is pretty much self-taught. She is regularly referred to as the Blue-Collar CEO™.
WBE Canada: Why did you go into this business?
Mandy: First of all, because I grew up poor and wanted to help my parents not struggle and while working for people at night for free to gain experience in the industry, I saw a void in the market, so I created a kick-@$$ company to turn the retail facilities market on its head. I also wanted and (needed) to shine light on and change the perception of the blue-collar industry. I want to redefine the collar blue and change the answer to what you want to be when you grow up.
WBE Canada: When it comes to your business, what are you most proud of?
Mandy: I’m proud of my lovable team of misfits. We are seeing lots of success and it goes to show how encouraging difference in many people’s personalities goes a long way.
WBE Canada: How do you encourage creative thinking in your company?
Mandy: I was one step ahead of you there 🙂 Our industry is full of problems that needing solving; this requires a creative mind. We encourage creativity by allowing people to bring their ideas to the table. There is no hierarchy at Freshco (not the grocery store) everyone has a knapsack of things to contribute.
WBE Canada: As a business grows it has a tendency to focus on institution instead of inspiration. How do you prevent this from happening?
Mandy: We’re not a stuffy office and we promote creativity and fun! That keeps our team inspired and growing strategically. We’ve been recognized for our innovation in culture development. When you laugh more, your bottom line grows! Simple.
WBE Canada: How has your WBE certification helped you in your business?
Mandy: WBE is a great tool for networking and finding like-minded individuals.
WBE Canada: What advice would you give to another woman at the beginning stage of building her business?
Mandy: Be authentic and remember confidence happens in stages. Don’t let labels get in the way.
WBE Canada: What has been the most challenging time in your business and how did you overcome it?
Mandy: Accepting the frenetic rate of technology and having human beings around you adopt it as a building block, while staying relatively balanced in their mind and life. It’s a lot to ask today. Look at me, I’ve had my teeth kicked in so many times and they grew back straighter and whiter after every obstacle.
WBE Canada: What is your superpower?
Mandy: I can read people instantly. It’s been a gift from a young age. As I grow, it does too!
WBE Canada: What has been the biggest triumph?
Mandy: Using my East Coast humour as a tool for people to really listen to my story and movement of “redefining the collar blue and changing the answer to what you what to be when you grow up.”
WBE Canada: How do you continue to develop and grow as a leader?
Mandy: 50% of the time, I say nothing and do nothing while listening and gathering intel as an overarching strategy and then I pounce like living hell; my team loves this LOL
WBE Canada: Has there been someone who inspired you and how?
Mandy: Fortunately my trajectory for admiration has fallen under all the people I have picked to work with, sleep with or drink expensive alcohol with. ☺
WBE Canada: What is your favourite quote?
Mandy: How do you like them lobsters?
WBE Canada: Are you actively involved in community work? If so, please provide a brief outline.
Mandy: We partner with Ronald McDonald Homes to offer them services pro bono in support of their incredible organization. We are the founders of the Blue Collar Intelligence (BCI) foundation that supports women, trades and changing the perception in the industry. We also support LGBTQ community through business mentorship and confidence building.
WBE Canada: What do you hope your legacy will be?
Mandy: I WILL change the stigma that skilled workers face. I want to blow open the perception that blue collar jobs are less respectful than white collar jobs. I want people to grow up being proud of maintaining today and building our country of tomorrow while learning multiple trades. I want my legacy to help pave this movement for generations to come.
Freshco is a full retail maintenance and construction firm serving clients across Canada and the eastern U.S. We service fortune 500 companies like GAP, Banana Republic, Apple, Lululemon, Home Depot, Sephora, Tiffany & Co., and many, many more. Freshco was established in 1995 and is headquartered in Oakville, ON. Connect with them on their website, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram.
About WBE Canada
WBE Canada is a Canadian non-profit organization that is opening doors for women-owned businesses to supply chains across North America. It certifies Canadian firms that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by women and introduces them to opportunities with corporations. To learn more about how we support women-owned businesses, click here. If you are a mid-size or large company looking to support women-owned businesses through procurement opportunities, we want to hear from you. Click here to learn more how you can get involved.