Q&A with John Fielding, Toronto Executive, Founder of Array Marketing

John Fielding is a Toronto business leader and the founder of Array Marketing (formerly IDMD), an innovative, global retail merchandising company that counts Estee Lauder, Chanel, Sephora, and many other prominent brands among its clients.

An innovative, passionate entrepreneur, over the years, John also has shown an adept ability to invest in the right businesses at the right time. He was an early investor in and served as Chairman of the Board of Ethoca Solutions Inc., an e-commerce and fraud solutions provider founded in 2005 and acquired by Mastercard International in 2019.

He’s also a principal of Toronto’s Amsterdam Brewing Company, a craft brewery that owns and operates the Amsterdam Brew House on the city’s waterfront and the Amsterdam Barrel House in Leaside. In addition, he’s an investor in several residential real estate ventures, including Novacore Communities, Zest Communities and StudentHouses.ca.

Formerly a professional hockey player in Europe, John Fielding returned to Canada in 1981 to found IDMD Design and Manufacturing, an award-winning retail merchandising company, with his brother Bill. What began as an advertising specialty company grew rapidly as the brothers entered the pharmaceutical and cosmetics space and became specialists in manufacturing merchandising and display systems.

Outside of his work, John is extremely active as an owner and breeder of thoroughbred and standardbred horses. His horses have won a multitude of top races and captured 17 Breeders Crown titles and he has bred numerous grade one winners. 

From your experience, what do you think it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and business leader?

John Fielding: I think it requires energy, creativity, tenacity, and the ability to manage risks well. I think it also requires the ability to effectively manage, motivate and inspire the people who work with you. And you need to be good at working with people outside the company. This includes networking, making mutually beneficial connections, negotiating, and selling.

What do you observe when you interact with today’s entrepreneurial leaders?

John Fielding: I see a lot of hard work, which is very important. There’s no nine-to-five in the entrepreneurial life, especially in the beginning. There’s a good bit of creativity out there and many good ideas that are being brought to fruition. I also think technology – and the speed with which it’s being developed and how it’s changing our lives – will continue to be a major factor.  Today’s young entrepreneurs realize just how impactful technology has become and they are using that to build new businesses, which I think is tremendously exciting.

How do you see people skills playing into the success of building new businesses?

John Fielding:  Companies have their names on the door, but people buy from people. It’s crucial that today’s business owners and leaders realize this and develop their people skills. With so much going on in today’s world, it’s easy to hide behind a website and let your interface do all the work. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. You need human connection. A leader also needs to be visible to his or her employees and make them feel good about the work they’re doing. Praise publicly. Criticize publicly. And with customers, providing exemplary service is essential or they’ll go somewhere else.

In your opinion, how does a company provide exemplary service to its customers in 2019?

John Fielding: I think it’s largely about providing customers with helpful information and technology that helps them experience new efficiencies, save time, grow business, and compete more effectively in the marketplace. In recent years, a growing number of entrepreneurs have realized the value of providing information to their customers through blogs, ebooks, videos, social media, and other channels and platforms. If it’s information the customer can begin using immediately, he or she will be grateful.

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