Story was written by: Mary Clements
Edited by: Alyssa Lai and Lisa Bifano
Photo by: Nathan Nash
Ron Foxcroft’s typical work day would start at 3 a.m. From dispatching trucks to putting on a tie to selling contracts by 8 a.m., the owner of trucking company Fluke Transport already has a full day under his belt even before the crack of dawn. His day doesn’t end after 4 p.m., however. Foxcroft will then referee basketball games, a passion of his, and turn his attention to family for the rest of the day.
His winning formula of disciplined work ethic combined with pride and passion is one of the key takeaways for over 80 young professionals, who gathered to hear Foxcroft speak at the Officers’ Mess in the James Street North Armoury on May 26th.
Hosted by YEP (Young Entrepreneurs & Professionals) Hamilton, the roundtable featuring Foxcroft was centred on how to start and manage businesses. YEP Hamilton is a division of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce that fosters growth and encourages creative innovation in the city. It acts as a resource for the current and the next generation of entrepreneurs in Hamilton.
Foxcroft has been in the trucking business for just over 30 years. Located at 450 Sherman Ave North and 1141 Burlington East, Fluke Transport grew from having 3 trucks to 176 trucks and 475 trailers, and from 250,000 square feet of warehousing space to 1.3 million square feet.
He is also the inventor of the Fox 40 Pealess whistle. The inspiration of the whistle came during a 1984 pre-olympic game in Brazil. When he was refereeing, the cork-pea whistle that he was using clogged and caused him to miss a call on Brazil. He saw the need for a new design for whistles. As he explored that for 3.5 years, Foxcroft went against the advice of many people, including his family, succumbing into a $150,000 debt in attempt to develop two prototypes of the first ever pealess whistle.
But the Fox 40 Pealess whistle is a sweet success. His company, Fox 40 International now produces 10 000 whistles a day, which are sold in 140 countries and is sanctioned by almost all major sports worldwide.
Despite the rough start, Fox 40’s success story is filled with Foxcroft’s perseverance, passion and hard work at its core. With his first two whistles valued at $75,000 a piece and no customers, Foxcroft was feeling discouraged. Luckily another burst of inspiration struck late one night at the Pan Am Games. He calmly walked past the rooms of his fellow officials at 3 a.m. and blew his whistle as loud as he could. His plan worked, and curious customers quickly surrounded him. He sold one whistle right on the spot and went on to sell an incredible 20,000 more over the course of the games. Now Fox 40 dominates the whistle industry, and is not only used for sports but also by search and rescue professions, life guards, fire-fighters and policemen.
Aside from business success, Foxcroft has an incredible 35-year career in basketball officiating at the international and collegiate levels. He officiated more than 1,600 international basketball games in 30 countries, including the gold medal basketball game at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. It was after the gold medal game in Montreal that Foxcroft signed a contract to become the first Canadian referee in the NCAA.
To that end, he highlighted five key points to being a successful entrepreneur: team work, leadership and communication, making tough calls, quality customer service and practice, and saying ‘thank you.’
There are many takeaways from Foxcroft’s experience, said Matteo Patricelli, Secretary of YEP Hamilton.
“It sounds corny, but his lesson of believing in yourself, working hard and never stopping is a fundamental one and one that we can take for granted because it seems obvious but at the end of the day you’re either extremely lucky or you just have to work hard.”
Mary is owner of Les Petites Pommes, which offers programs to support students learning French. When Mary is not working at Les Petites Pommes she is also a teacher at a private school called Kehila Community Jewish Day School in Westdale.