Being turned down for promotion motivated entrepreneur
March 1, 2018
Having a low point can be a good thing sometimes.
Devastated on learning from her boss that she wasn’t being considered as a candidate for a promotion she applied for, Charlyn Asher thought she had hit rock bottom.
“This was an organization that I went the extra mile for,” she said. “I came in an hour early, left late on many occasions and did the company work on my own time at home. To be told that I shouldn’t hold my expectations up for that promotion because I wasn’t going to get it was like a punch in the gut.”
After venting her disappointment by crying for nearly 20 minutes in her closed office, Asher wiped away the tears and made a resolution never to work for anyone again.
“I was going to be my own boss and I was going to do whatever it took to achieve that goal,” she said. “There was no turning back. I was in a good paying job with benefits and I knew the products very well, but I had reached the ceiling in the position I was in. It was time to move on.”
While perusing Craigslist for a company to purchase, the single mother stumbled upon a CBC casting call advertisement.
Independent marketing communications entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson took budding business owners on a roller coaster ride as she introduced them to three prospective businesses for sale. She guided potential buyers through a process of assessing each business, advising and guiding them as they decided whether to put an established business ‘Under New Management’.
Unfortunately for Asher, none of the three business selected met her expectations.
“My background is in warehousing, distribution and logistics,” she said. “That is what I know and I was looking for something in that area.”
Every cloud has a silver lining as she was soon to find out.
In 1935, Sidney Colt started to buy and sell used boxes under the name, ‘S. Colt & Sons’. By the 1960s, the company was manufacturing corrugated boxes and pads under ‘Colt Paper’ in the Junction Triangle at 151 Sterling Rd.
When Asher learnt that the company was up for sale, she jumped at the opportunity.
“This business was attractive because it’s everything that I have done in the past,” she said.
The price tag also fell within the $130,000 she had at her disposal for a new business venture.
Moving the company to Brampton that is close to her home, Asher opened for business last November.
“When I did my research, I also discovered there wasn’t another business like this selling the same products we do,” she said. “I also took that into consideration when bringing the company here.”
In addition to storage boxes, the Colt Paper sells poly bags, mailing tubes, mail lite padded envelopes, pelspan peanuts, pallet stretch wrappers, courier envelopes and packing tape.
“What is unique about us is that we could provide small quantities of storage boxes and they can be done with a custom name on the right side of the box,” she said.
Located at 109 Orenda Rd, the company – which recently acquired a van for distribution -- employs an administrative assistant and a warehouse helper.
Asher is looking to hire a salesperson.
What is even more remarkable for the first-time business owner is that she made the plunge without a business degree or mentorship.
She has not returned to the classroom since graduating from high school in Grenada nearly two decades ago.
Life wasn’t easy for Asher and her nine siblings raised by their single mother on the Caribbean island.
“Being the eldest girl, I came up with ways at a young age to make money to help take care of my struggling family,” she said. “I did that by washing clothes for family members, cleaning homes and making fudge to sell. Later on in life, what I realised was that by spending 50 cents to make fudge that I sold, I was developing a knack for entrepreneurship.”
At age 18, Asher joined her father in the Greater Toronto Area. After a few months, she resisted his request to return home.
“There wasn’t really anything for me to go back to,” she said. “I couldn’t get a job in Canada because I didn’t have Canadian experience. It was very challenging back in those early days, but I was determined to make things work. I am a hustler and nothing was going to stop me. I did babysitting which I didn’t like before landing a minimum wage factory job.”
Taking advantage of a federal government career development program, Asher moved from the factory floor to the office where she became the warehouse and purchasing manager.
Divorced and raising13-year-old Aaliyah Asher who is in Grade Eight, Asher admits that running a business isn’t easy.
“I have had some sleepless nights, but the good thing is that it’s something I am familiar with and I know I will be successful,” she added. “I am self-made and I know that I have to start to build networks and enhance my skills for what I am doing to grow.”
Though busy trying to get her business off the ground, Asher still finds time to give back to her birth country.
Last year, she raised nearly $2,500 through GoFundMe to buy a photocopier for St. George’s Anglican Junior School. She also donated a trophy to her alma mater for their sports day.