To earn the award AFP Outstanding Corporation, one must demonstrate an outstanding commitment to supporting the community financially and through encouragement and motivation of others to take leadership roles toward philanthropy and community involvement. In today’s episode, Lawrence Eade, the President of Purdy’s Chocolatier, shares many of his insights about the connection between community and building community and being an effective organizational leader. He also shares why giving back to the community is good for business. Adding value to your community also gives value to your organization. So, if you are a leader, you may want to listen to his insights and get a sense of how Purdy’s Chocolatier approaches giving back to the community.
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AFP Outstanding Corporation Recipient With Lawrence Eade
I’m very pleased to share this very special episode. It’s continuing on our series of the AFP Giving Hearts Award winners by AFP Vancouver, and as the podcast sponsor of those awards, we are very pleased to be able to interview some of those guests. We’re interviewing Lawrence Eade. He’s the President of Purdys Chocolatier, and they have been selected as this year’s Most Outstanding Corporation, and is nominated by Take A Hike Foundation.
I spoke with Lawrence about what motivates giving back and connecting to community within Purdys. He shared a lot of his own personal insights about the connection between community and building community and being an effective organizational leader. If you’re a leader, you’ll want to know his insights and get a sense of how Purdys approaches giving back to the community. Please enjoy my conversation with Lawrence Eade.
Lawrence Eade, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me.
Lawrence, I want to start our conversation with a question we’re asking all of our guests this season. What’s your first memory of giving back or community service?
I think it goes back to right here in Alberta. It’s my hometown. I grew up there. I’m a first generation Canadian. My parents are British. It probably has to do with we were very active outdoor people, playing soccer, hiking, those kinds of things. My mom was involved with the Westerner days, which are the rodeo fair that comes all the time. She thought it was a good opportunity for me to get some experience.
My elementary principal was involved on the board there. At that time, I was able to come in. I think what I was doing was checking people’s parking passes as they came through the gate. That was my first foray into just being involved in something that wasn’t about specifically myself or money or those kind things. It was an experience, but it was maybe not philanthropy in the way you think about it, but for a 9 or 10-year-old, doing something like that was very interesting. It was completely foreign to me that people volunteer their time, “Why is my principal doing all this stuff for Westerner days? Doesn’t he have a job? This nothing to do with teaching.” That was a good experience for me. It opened my eyes to those kinds of initiatives.
That’s the beginning of a lot of giving back to community that I know that you’ve done. We’re having you on the show of course because Purdys, the company that you’re a President of, is the Most Outstanding Corporation for AFP’s Giving Hearts Awards this year 2022. Tell us a little bit about the role of giving back to community there at Purdys.
Purdys is an amazing organization. I’ve been here for two short years, but it’s a 115-year tenure as a BC company. Many of the audience here I’m sure are BC-based and are familiar with Purdys. It really does come from the family and the ownership. Charles Flavelle purchased it in the 1960s with a partner. Then, Karen Flavelle later purchased it from him in the early, mid ‘90s. It’s a reflection of their own personal values. It’s giving back.
When Charles had the first factory down in East Vancouver, he was employing a lot of first-time Canadians, first generation Canadians, people who’ve come here to make a better life for themselves and their families. I think Charles understood that in order to have a great community, as what he viewed as an amazing Vancouver, that he wanted to be involved in, it starts with giving back to the people who are in that community. From there, all the initiatives, all the amazing things that Purdys has done over all these years come from that. It comes from the heart. It comes from their values as a family.
In the case of Purdys, that giving back is more than just writing a check. There’s some real commitments to social justice and compensation and treatment of workers and farmers in cocoa plants in general. As a new President, how do you connect all of those ideas together?
We look at our decisions and look at how these things happen through our purpose, which is to create connection and joy through the power of chocolate. Creating connection and joy is a lot more than just giving chocolate to people. It’s creating that moment or that celebration.Creating connection and joy is more than just giving chocolate to people. Click To Tweet
It helps though.
It does help. It’s a very great vector or thing to use to create those connections and to celebrate those connections. Also, it’s a mindset that we have when you’re engaging with a fellow employee or colleague, or a customer at a store level, or if you’re one of our fundraising channels, or celebrating all the things that make us different and unique as a group of people that are doing these things together. Purdys’ initiatives that are grouped on how we look at that is all through our Purple Partnerships programs. We have certain pillars that mean a lot to the company and Purdys themselves, but also to the Flavelle family. That’s how we put it all together is really through that Purple Partnerships lens.
For this award that you’re receiving for the Giving Hearts event, you were nominated by Take a Hike. Their CEO, Gordon Matchett, has been on the show a couple of times. This is coming full circle as it relates to that relationship. Tell me a little bit about the work that Purdys has done with Take a Hike over the years.
It’s a great organization. It started with Karen going on one of these hikes that they put on to spread awareness about what they do and the amazing things they do with students. She fundraised. She’s a very outdoorsy person, and she really liked it. It struck a note with her and struck a chord on improving these people’s lives, especially those facing vulnerabilities and different learning habits. Karen is a mother of three. She sees the challenges sometimes in learnings and definitely the benefits of being an outdoor advocate and what that could do to a person’s mindset.
It started there, and then she got a lot of fundraising for Take on Hike through a contributor. I think she said she has about 4 or 5 pairs of snow shoes now that she’s accumulated over the years and brought people on. That turned into a more formal relationship where Purdys then became a sponsor to a lot of programs they do. We sponsored the midnight hikes that they do, which are incredible. I took my daughter on one last year 2021. One, you’re outside and it’s amazing to be outside and in the snow in the middle of winter.
Hearing from the teachers and what they do, and seeing the impact it makes in those individuals lives. I’m a parent, and many other people are obviously parents. Seeing the differences in our children and understanding that there isn’t a very simple, straightforward way that is going to be beneficial to everyone. Seeing that there are programs like this out there that are allowing kids to try, I think that lined up well with the values of our organization. Continued to this day, we’re honored that they’re our partner, and we’re humbled that they’ve nominated us for this award.
That’s a great story. It starts with an individual, and then grows throughout the organization. As an organization, how does Purdys look to engage its employees in giving back to the community? Certainly for Take a Hike, but I’m sure for many other organizations as well.
It’s like many things. You have to communicate it and you have to let people know that these things are happening. I think that’s probably stumbling block number one for a lot of places is that you’re doing these amazing things. It’s oftentimes a thing that you want to be modest about. I don’t want to overplay what I’m doing and giving back. You have this natural hesitancy to talk about it a lot. We’ve definitely broken that out. We communicate through the Purple Partnerships programs to our staff and our communities on the things that we’re able to do.
We can go on hikes. Take a Hike, for example, for the other pillars we have, we’ve partnered up with a great organization called Get Real. They’re part of our two LGBTQ+ pillar in our Purple Partnerships. We have some of their people come through and do factory tours. We had a gentleman who was blind and came through our factory. Seeing him go through a factory tour, it’s a very different experience, obviously, “What is the sound happening here? Tell me about this. Describe these things to me.” Allowing others to see how this happens is a great way to engage your staff in the initiatives that we’re partnering up with.
That’s a great story. That idea that not only are you adding value to the community, it does add value to your own organization to be involved in these things through the Purple Partnerships.
We are constantly surveying our team about what they want us to do. We had a great speaker talk about the reconciliation day, and the 21 things to know about the Indian Act. He’s involved with the author of that. He came and speak to all of our management teams about what it means, and what reconciliation means from an indigenous person and from these views. It’s sharing that diversity of thought and being open to it. We go back to our purpose and our core values.
One of our values is we respect and support each other, and that’s everyone, whether it’s our colleagues or our stakeholders or our partners. For us, it’s ensuring there’s communication around it, and transparency around what these things mean. Not necessarily that everyone has to agree with everything, of course, but that you know about it and it’s out there.
There is a common theme for corporations and companies that are involved in the connected community. That common theme is that there is often a lot of reference to the company’s core values. As a leader, how do you keep those core values present and actionable and alive for the team that works directly with you and those that don’t have the chance to work with the president on a daily basis?
Karen and I are fond of this saying from Jack Welch, which is, “Repeat and repeat, and by the time you get tired of saying it is when you’re just hearing it.” I’m paraphrasing that, but that’s the truth. If people don’t hear you say it, then they’re never going to find it to be important. They’re going to make their own assumptions on what it means and what the message or what the history is. We use it. We have monthly huddles with all of our teams where they all join in on Zoom meetings. We explain those. We have core valued moments, Purdys moments, where we allow team members to share their Purdys moments for those weeks.
We have employee recognition programs as well, where you can nominate someone for exhibiting a core value. We celebrate those every month as well. It’s saying it, repeating it, saying it, repeating it, and really believing in them. Using them when you’re making decisions. When we’re looking at our strat planning, and we do that annually, and we’re looking at all the objectives and goals that we’re looking to achieve, we look at them through those lenses. As a leader of a company and you have those values, if you’re not using them to make decisions, they’re probably not the right values. You should probably be looking at it that way.
Particularly when it comes to core values, there’s also that living it and showing and demonstrating it. As a relatively new leader of the organization, how do you make sure you’re showing up and not just saying the values but really demonstrating them in action?
For me, it probably started with the time I met Karen, and then later her son who’s taking over third generation. His name is Scott. I was introduced to Karen through a mutual friend for the position. That first meeting was understanding who each of us are, what values and what brought you to where you’re, what brought me to where I am, what things we find important. The values of Purdys have been driven by that top-down, from the ownership through these generations.
For me, once I had that comfort of sharing values and that common outlook on life, once you’re into the organization, it’s just who you are. These values, I didn’t need to learn them and all of a sudden exhibit in doing them. They were who I was to begin with. For recommendations to other employers or leaders or people who are reading this and looking for other opportunities, and you’re seeing that a lot especially with younger generations as they are aligning themselves with organizations that share those values. I think that’s incredible.
We’ve all had jobs where we didn’t quite like them or either something was not quite right about it. If it comes down to those values not being aligned, then that doesn’t mean that the organization is wrong. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It just means there’s a misalignment, and maybe there’s a better place for you to fit in a greater world or in society. It’s fantastically powerful that the younger generations are certainly looking at where they want to work through that lens of what’s most important to them.If it comes down to those values not being aligned, then that doesn't mean the organization's wrong or something is wrong with you. It means there's a misalignment, and maybe there's a better place for you to fit in society. Click To Tweet
I think it is important. Communicating the values of an organization to current employees through the work that Purdys does with Take a Hike and other organizations is that really tangible example of the importance of community and the importance of giving back. I’m curious, if this microphone you’re using, the stage you’re on right now allowed you to talk to other corporate leaders, what would you tell them about giving back and why it’s good business?
You’ve got to remember Purdys is a gifting business. Our entire business model is people giving things to people, and that could be time, effort, or anything. I think maybe we’re in a privileged position to be able to answer this question. I think it has to be genuine. You have to mean it, like really looking internally at what giving means to your organization, what’s important, looking at those values again. If you’re making widgets or you’re selling a service or whatever it might be, why are you doing that? What is the purpose of the organization? Then it becomes a lot clearer as to why they give back, how to give back, how to communicate that through your organization.
There are a lot of great current impact business models. If you look at these other impact models that have actual tangible measures on what it means to be an impactful business, it all merges impactful with giving back. I think it’s more about being a purpose driven organization. If there are leaders out there who don’t know where to start or don’t quite know where to start, certainly reading this would be a great first step. From there, it’s looking out there and seeing what other organizations you would want to emulate that are maybe in your market or in other markets or other competitive channels, and seeing what they do best and looking at those frameworks.
The great thing about the age we’re in is that this is all becoming very top of mind. It’s very topical and has been for quite a few years now. There’s abundance of information out there on how best to do this, or what you can do, whether it’s to start small in your organization or you take that next loop because you’ve already started it.
Many of our audience are in social profit organizations, leaders of social profit organizations. They’re hearing you talk. They’re like, “This guy sounds like he’s got it together and is really connected.” How can they connect with Purdys and Purple Partnerships?
Just reach out through Purple Partnerships, and see what they can do. We have a ton of different avenues that we can explore or partnerships we can do. Certainly, we’re through the power of creating connections through the power of chocolate. One of the big things we do is our group and fundraising programs. The fundraising programs, whether you’re a small organization or what have you, that’s a very easy way to partner up with us, and it allows you to get your voice out through a channel that’s very easily done and raises money for your association or organization. We’ve given millions and millions of dollars back to organizations across the country through that exact program. That’s an easy way to start.
That a great way to get started is good advice and good chocolate. As we’re coming to the end of our conversation, I want to ask you something. As a relatively new leader in your organization, as someone who’s been very successful, personally and professionally, what are you looking forward to?
Personally, first and foremost, I’m a father. Seeing my kids grow up and seeing how they view the world and helping them craft their outcomes, I don’t want to say telling them what to do because as a parent, we often tell kids what to do. It’s just seeing them grow and how they approach questions and how they approach situations and ethical dilemmas and moral dilemmas. It is something I look forward to. I’m fortunate to have a great partner raising the kids with me. We have a lot of great conversations around this. On a personal level, I’m in that great wheelhouse. My kids are all in that great formative age. That’s something I love to see.
Professionally, the reason I joined Purdys is it has such an impact business model. Historically, from the family and the values they created, they were very humble and very modest around it. You don’t want to broadcast that. It’s something you do because you do it and it’s important to you, but it’s not something that is necessarily a trumpet out there. That’s false modesty.
Now, societies are becoming a lot more open to understanding that. Frankly, more customers are demanding to know what your organization is doing to better society. For me, it’s taking all of these pieces, leading an amazing team of people with an amazing culture and service, and great customers with amazing product, and then furthering that journey to make further impact for Canadians, but maybe past Canada in the future. We’ll see.
That’s a great goal to look forward to both personally and professionally, Lawrence. Congratulations on winning The Most Outstanding Corporation Award at the Giving Hearts ceremony. I look forward to seeing you there. Thank you for being on the show.
Thanks for having me. We’re humbled about the award. Thanks for the nominations.
- Purdys Chocolatier
- Gordon Matchett – Past Episode of Discovery Pod
- Take a Hike Foundation
- Purple Partnerships
About Lawrence Eade
Lawrence Eade is the President of Purdys Chocolatier. He leads Purdys overarching vision, strategy, and operations of 81 locations, 2 production facilities and over 1,100 employees across Canada.
With over 25 years of experience in the retail and food manufacturing industry, Lawrence believes collaboration and communication are the keys to success. He is passionate about empowering people at Purdys and supporting continuous growth for the 115-year-old family owned heritage brand.
Prior to joining Purdys, Lawrence co-founded Box Concepts Food Group, a multi-brand food service, hospitality, and manufacturing organization. He led the company until 2019, growing it from 3 retail locations with 20 employees to over 100 retail locations with more than 1,000 employees.
Lawrence has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta and obtained his Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) designation while working at KPMG earlier in his career. In 2018, Lawrence was named one of Business in Vancouver’s 40 Under 40.