It was a homecoming for Darrell Jones as he gave the keynote presentation to a gathering of local businesses on Wednesday at the Heritage Inn.
Jones, the president of Overwaitea Food Group, was the special guest for the monthly Chamber of Commerce luncheon, where he spoke of his time growing up in Cranbrook and his attitude towards climbing the corporate ladder.
Jones started as a grocery bagger when he was a teenager and was more recently named company president in 2012 in a career with Overwaitea Food Group that has spanned 37 years.
Jones touched on his experience and lessons learned on management and leadership, talking about integrity and the fear of failure.
“Doing the right things in business, or in your personal life, is not always the easy way. As a matter of fact, a lot of times, it’s the most difficult way.
“But there’s an old saying I live by which is, ‘The most important thing that you have in your life is your health. The next most important thing you have in your life is your integrity.'”
On failure, Jones emphasized his points by talking about famous examples of people who persevered in the face of failure.
Thomas Edison was told he wasn’t smart enough to amount to anything by his teachers. He was fired from his first two jobs for being non-productive and failed 1,000 times before he invented the incandescent lightbulb.
Walt Disney had 302 banks turn him down before the 303rd gave him the funding to build Disneyland.
“Imagine if he’d have stopped after the 10th, or the 100th, or the 200th. We wouldn’t have any of what we know to be Disney today,” said Jones. “Most people would’ve stopped. That’s the problem, people stop just before they get to that spot.”
Jones moved on to Colonel Harland Sanders, the face of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sanders was 65 years old and broke when his gas station and kitchen restaurant was bypassed by a freeway.
Instead of calling it quits, Sanders took his pressure cooker and went around to local restaurants selling his recipe.
He built up a franchise of 600 restaurants and sold it for $2.5 million in 1964.
Jones used those examples to punctuate his point.
“The only way you’ll ever truly fail in life is if you quit,” he said. “That’s the only way you’ll ever fail. You may not be successful, you might have to redo it, retool, if it doesn’t work, just don’t do the Albert Einstein definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different result—I’m not suggesting that.
But don’t quit, adjust, refine, find the next thing, because you’ll get it.”
He capped off his address to the chamber by making note of the personal success from well-known athletes in various sports.
“I read somewhere that per capita, Cranbrook has had more NHL hockey players than any other cities in the world,” Jones said.
“…This is a town that’s built on having winners and champions and I’ll tell you, the folks in Cranbrook, when I was here, and from what I see today, are filled with winners and champions.
“So I say to each and every one of you: Whatever your desires, whatever your dreams are, you’re in the right town, if you have the right attitude, you’ll be successful.”
After touring the local Save-on-Foods, Jones added that the company wants to pour some money into the building for renovations in the near future.
“In order to be successful in business today, you need to make sure you understand what the local needs are of the communities you’re in.
We don’t build cookie-cutter stores, we don’t build the same stores in every town, we build stores that are set out for the demographics of the town to make sure we meet the needs of the communities.”
He also touched on greenhouses and local farmers and said the company would be more than happy to sell locally-grown produce.
“Once the greenhouses are producing vegetables, we’ll be first in line to purchase all they can provide us, and then we’ll sell them to the local people that we have in our stores in the East Kootenay.
“…It’s usually better and people feel an affiliation to it, because they know it was grown near them, not to mention that you don’t pollute the world by bringing it up from California.
“There’s a whole bunch of wins by buying and producing local.”