Rick More vividly remembers sitting in a plane about to fly for Thunder Bay to be trained to run his new Robin’s Donuts franchise.
It was then the magnitude of leaving his comfortable management job at Safeway hit him.
“I remember looking at the plane window and it was raining and I go ‘What the hell have I just done,’” says the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce CEO, who is retiring next month after 17 years at the chamber.
His wife Cindy had just given birth to daughter Lindsey and the couple were now newcomers to the competitive doughnut business after 21 years at Safeway, where he started as a 16-year-old and worked his way up through the management ranks.
They ran the doughnut franchise for four years before selling it. Once again, More, 64, had no idea then what he was going to do next.
He was considering a job offer from a local insurance company, when Brent and Brian Sutter came calling. They needed someone to manage their The Sutter Club sports lounge and restaurant. For nearly two years he learned how to run a successful restaurant before his career took another turn.
This time, it was in RV sales at Woody’s RV. “I ended up in another field I’d never done.
“One thing I did learn from entrepreneurship is that you can learn anything if you have confidence.”
The RV sales experience proved valuable. “I learned the world of sales. It gives you a different perspective,” he says, adding he also learned the stress of having your wages based on sales commissions.
“One of the biggest things I got out of that was understanding personalities, not just your own but other people’s.”
Then Red Deer Express publisher Cal Dallas approached him and asked if he would join the sales department and More made another career change.
Dallas later went to the Red Deer and District of Chamber of Commerce and he asked More to become his membership manager.
When Dallas left for provincial politics, More took over as interim CEO. The job ultimately went to someone else. More would be interim CEO two more times over 14 years before landing the position three years ago.
More was obviously disappointed to not get the job the first time around but he never gave up on his goal of being the chamber’s leader.
“I think it just makes you stronger and makes you want it even more,” he said. “Those three interimships just gives you the confidence that, ‘Yeah I can do this.’”
He has been able to use all of his career experiences and the benefit of being a lifetime Red Deerian with extensive community contacts in his chamber work.
There are many highlights. Among them has been the success they have had in recent years advocating on behalf of their more than 800 members at the municipal level. Their lobbying helped ensure council held the line on business taxes in recent years and has led to zoning changes that have aided local businesses.
At the provincial level, they have pitched the importance of the Agri-Trade Equipment Expo to central Alberta.
He had the chamber’s top job at the most difficult time in its history because of the lengthy economic downturn made worse by the pandemic. While chamber staff had to work from home for a couple of weeks they made the decision to return to the office to better serve their members while following all of the necessary health protocols.
“We fought hard for our members. We didn’t have that reduction in membership and I think they appreciated our efforts.”
In retirement, More is considering writing a book about the healing journey his family made after his daughter Lindsey took her own life in 2015 after struggling with depression for years. In honour of Lindsey’s memory, the Mores, which includes two sons and another daughter created Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation. It is geared towards providing mental health awareness and education through school programs, public speeches, and fundraising events and he looks forward to continuing that work.