Faces in the Crowd – Keeping the Wheels Turning

Posted on October 11, 2018 under Faces in the Crowd with no comments yet

 

 

“My employees mean everything to the success of my business. My core values guide me.

Meet Jennifer Baudoux.

Born in Stellarton, the second oldest of four girls, Jennifer learned from an early age the importance of a person’s roots, tradition and family values. For many years, the family would drive over to Kenzieville to visit her grandparents. They also took several trips around the province looking for adventure.

She and her sisters were outdoors people. Besides biking and running, Jennifer had a passion for sports with ringette dominating the winter months and soccer in the summer. As part of a rite of passage, she got her driver’s license followed by her first job in the food services industry.

Her first leap of independence was a three week solo trip she took to Norway at the age of 17 to visit an exchange student.  She had never been out of the Maritimes before but received the blessings of her parents to travel alone. Her trip to Norway fuelled her passion for travel and the outdoors as she spent much of her time mountain climbing.

She had a good head for math so it wasn’t surprising that she attended the community college in Stellarton to pursue a diploma in business information technology. She wasn’t sure of her career path but she knew it would be in business. “I wasn’t fuelled with angst wondering what I would do the rest of my life. I was just waiting for the right opportunity to reveal itself,” says Jennifer.

She married in 1997 and she and her husband bought a piece of land in Hazel Glen which they cleared with their own hands. She took a position at McDonald’s restaurant and spent 17 years with the company, many in a management role.  With two small children, this was very demanding with long hours at work. Like so many couples, there was a lot of juggling with one partner working day shift and the other the back shift to make things work.

Both she and her husband ended up working in Truro. This required a daily commute and after a hydroplaning accident one day while transporting the children, they decided to buy a home in Truro. While they liked Truro, there was much second guessing and the lure of Pictou County was too strong. “There is great comfort in knowing where you’re from.” They bought an old home in Kenzieville not far from her grandparents.

In 2007, her husband bought a Canada Bread franchise. Jennifer decided to leave McDonald’s to work with him. His travels took him to the A&W in Antigonish. The local franchisee, hearing of Jennifer’s extensive experience in the food services industry, asked if she would meet with him. Despite her initial objections (“I’m not doing this again”), she decided to partner with the current owner in 2012. In 2016, she became the sole owner.

“I learned a lot about being a woman in business. You must believe in yourself and not be intimidated. You have to learn to take things in stride,” says Jennifer.

Recreation was and continues to be a crucial part of her success in business and in life. “Sports are good for the mind, the body and the soul. “ An avid biker and runner, many a problem was solved while out on the back roads or a mountain. Both she and her two children have become competitive cross country mountain bikers. Jennifer recently competed in the Canada Cup and her children hope to qualify for the Canada Games team some day in the future. The three of them have also completed triathlons.

The A&W franchise in Antigonish has been recognized locally and nationally as one of the top restaurants in the chain. This hasn’t happened by accident. In a hyper competitive industry, Jennifer has been able to attract and keep employees in a business which is known for a high turnover rate. She notes that paying a fair wage is part of the equation but Jennifer does the extras that go a long way to engender loyalty. She provides fresh fruit for the staff and uses team building exercises like skating, bowling and trips to the Keppoch. She takes people in a management role to national and international conferences.

Jennifer is the president of the Maritime Association for A&W and is a skilled trainer and motivator.

When summing up her life to date, Jennifer indicates that business has helped her with her personal life and her personal life has helped in business. “You need to set goals and be prepared to work hard to attain them.”

Jennifer’s wheels are always turning whether in the board room, the restaurant or on Keppoch Mountain.

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The Macdonald Notebook: Business & Politics in Atlantic Canada
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