Hard work, self-belief, and continual learning are why entrepreneur Reece Tomlinson is so successful in business and is also AU’s 2018 Rising Star Alumni Award recipient.
Reece Tomlinson grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba with athletic ability and academic know-how—basically a recipe for success—yet most people with those ingredients don’t accomplish as much as Reece has by 33.
Having balanced training and competing with the junior national biathlon team during high school, Reece’s time management skills and work ethic were solidified early in life.
Even with so many learned and intuitive abilities, Reece attributes another factor as the key to his success: “The biggest thing I’ve learned in my career, through hanging around a lot of entrepreneurs all over the world, is that the only difference between those who achieve what they want and those who don’t, is the belief that you can accomplish it.”
Growing up, Reece had a single mother and little to fall back on, fuelling his drive to try harder in all things.
“I always thought I just wanted to make good money and be an executive,” he says. “What I realized is I’m more entrepreneurial than I cared to admit and … have more risk tolerance than the average person.”
By working in construction, Reece put himself through post-secondary school and gained a Business Administration diploma from Red River College in Winnipeg. At 21, he became a sales account manager for Hilti Canada, stationed first in Calgary, then Lethbridge, and then Edmonton—covering Edmonton and Fort McMurray. He’s been credited with increasing Hilti Canada’s sales in his territories by 61 percent.
Focusing on small achievable wins
How does a 21-year-old, recent college-grad, do such a thing for a large, established company like Hilti Canada?
“I had a lot of small accounts, so I went to them, focused on their business and how I could help them, which often leads to individual accounts increasing their spending substantially over the prior year,” he explains. “I focused on the small wins and it all added up.”
Back then, Reece admits that age was a factor when he wanted people to take him seriously, but he focused more on ambition and hard work rather than what he lacked in experience. It paid off.
His next big opportunity came from M&L General Contracting, which offered Reece an opportunity to buy into the company. He did and ended up raising the company’s sales from $2M to $40M within five years.
“It was a hugely impactful learning experience because it taught me a lot about growing and leading a business in challenging times—all the stuff that’s required to keep a business healthy.”
Knowledge is everything
Just over three years ago, Reece was approached again by business people wanting him to be a part of their idea, this time a medical start-up.
“I wanted to get out of construction because I felt like I needed to expand my horizons and I thought [the medical industry] was somewhere I could apply my knowledge with my ability to sell and strategize” Reece explains. “It has different challenges but was something I decided to jump on and here I am.”
This industry switch meant helping start-up Intraline Medical Aesthetics, a pharmaceutical company that provides preventative, restorative, and non-invasive aging treatments. Reece remained co-founder and CEO for years, until recently when he stepped back to once again, try new opportunities. He remains chairman of the board.
In his free time, while working full-time between 2005-2012, Reece got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business from Athabasca University and his CPA from the Chartered Professional Accountants of Manitoba.
“Knowledge is everything; the more you know, the more you can see and do,” he says, adding how important he feels it is for executives or entrepreneurs to keep their brain active and up-to-date with different trends.
Today, Reece splits his time as equally as possible in three different professional endeavours and businesses: RWT Growth Inc., his business consulting firm that focuses on turn-around management, growth, and financial consulting; Endicott Capital, a realty development firm he created with other entrepreneurs to renovate and sell multi-family properties, primarily in Western Canada; and H Bank, a London, England-based, medical company focused on cutting-edge, stem-cell banking and therapeutics.
“A lot of things I’ve learned, I’ve learned the hard way, and I don’t know that if I gave my younger-self advice, if I would have listened all that well. But, I think the biggest thing is just to go after what you’re passionate about, expect that success is never linear … and if you really want it, you can make it happen.