Toronto’s John Fielding Lends Guidance on Mentorship, Strategic Leadership
For Toronto executive John Fielding, the road to entrepreneurial success began with a small dream and a lot of determination. In 1981, he decided to trade in his professional hockey career for the opportunity to pursue a path in business, a move which would eventually pay off.
Today, John Fielding is the founder of Array Marketing, formerly known as IDMD, a global retail merchandising service with clients that include Ulta, Chanel, Estee Lauder, Sephora, and more. Array Marketing has provided innovative service in retail merchandising, in-store build outs, creative branding, open service systems, retail fixtures, and point-of-purchase displays for more than 35 years. Fielding remains a shareholder of Array Marketing and serves on the company’s board of directors.
Fielding was also an initial investor in Ethoca Solutions Inc., for which he served as chairman of the board of directors. Ethoca Solutions Inc. is a fraud solutions and e-commerce provider founded in 2005; the company was acquired by Mastercard International in 2019.
John Fielding is a principal of Amsterdam Brewing Company, based in Toronto, a craft brewery that also operates two additional facilities: the Amsterdam BrewHouse, a brewery and restaurant located on Toronto’s waterfront, and the Amsterdam Barrel House, a casual pub located in Leaside.
Fielding also maintains an investment interest in residential real estate holdings such as Novacore Communities, Zest Communities, and StudentHouses.ca.
John Fielding played four years of professional hockey in Europe in his youth, then returned home to Canada in 1981 to start his business career. He and his brother Bill founded IDMD Design and Manufacturing, an award-winning retail merchandising company. IDMD grew substantially when the company started working with the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries and specialized in the production of display and merchandising systems.
Besides his professional accomplishments, Fielding is also a successful 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.
You started and successfully grew your own business with only $4,500. What advice do you have for first-time entrepreneurs with little to no capital?
John Fielding: Sometimes you have to start small to get where you want to be. It’s having that level of strategic thinking and applying it to the bigger picture. My brother and I are textbook examples of this. We began IDMD out of a 500 square foot location in Scarborough, Ontario where we distributed promotional items such as coffee mugs, key chains and bottle openers. Focusing on advertising specialties at first, we used this experience to grasp every possible opportunity that came our way, eventually turning the business into the success that it would eventually become.
As a business leader, how do you drive strategic business changes?
John Fielding: Collaboration and intentional management. Being a business leader and instituting large-scale changes often requires taking a hard look at every aspect of the business. Sometimes this means increases resources in one area and cutting back in others, which can be difficult. If you can’t collaborate and build partnerships between people, you won’t be able to institute the kind of strategic change that helps the business grow.
What do you do to mentor the other individuals on your team?
John Fielding: Every person has different strengths and weaknesses, and being a good mentor involves recognizing those strengths and weaknesses and helping people to enhance their talents and acquire new skills. To be effective as a mentor, you should also help people identify professional development opportunities, whether that’s additional training, education, or another form of learning.
What do you consider your strengths in dealing with colleagues and customers?
John Fielding: I like to treat others as I would like to be treated–that has served me well throughout my career. I also enjoy working with people to find solutions to problems; it’s almost always more effective and efficient to work as part of a team to overcome a challenge.
What skills do you recommend people develop to help them become better business leaders and advance in their careers?
John Fielding: I think it’s important to be a good listener and to have a good technical grounding in your field. It’s also helpful to be able to express yourself with confidence and graciousness and to show optimism and ambition.