A man with glasses standing in front of a yellow wallSince coming to Chatham-Kent from England, Terry Johnson has helped his wife Chandra grow Scribendi into an incredibly successful international company. His insights into business growth and his experiences as a newcomer speak to the benefits of planning for the future and embracing cultural diversity in Chatham-Kent.

Terry, Chandra and Scribendi

Husband and wife team, Terry Johnson and Chandra Clarke are the owners and operators of Scribendi – a professional proofreading and editing company based in Chatham-Kent. Together, they have nurtured this once small venture into a successful company, serving clients around the world through Internet-based marketing and service.

Prior to Scribendi, Chandra was the editor of a local newspaper. She established Scribendi in 1997 in response to the evident need for editing services she was exposed to at her job. Terry, an economist, was not in the picture, or even the country, at this time. However, in 2003, after meeting and long-distance dating, Chandra and Terry, from Oxford, England, were married. Terry chose to make Chatham-Kent his new home and to join Chandra in managing Scribendi.

At this time, Scribendi was still rather small. Over the last ten years, it has grown significantly. Today, Scribendi employs 200 people worldwide, including more than 20 in Chatham-Kent. It is often difficult for small business owners to adapt in a way that allows their business to grow  rapidly, but Terry and Chandra have always made it a point to look ahead and prepare for future challenges and growth opportunities.

Distributing Hats and Looking Ahead

Terry describes business growth as a continuous process of distributing hats. When a small business starts, the owner wears most (if not all) of the hats. As the business grows, the owner identifies the hats that he or she wears most appropriately and recruits employees to wear the others, with the goal of having the best people wearing the right hat for them.

Of course, this is just one aspect of business growth. Terry is also a big advocate for working proactively in light of the inevitable challenge of change. Below, Terry shares some of his advice on preparing for growth and sustainability.

Preparing for Growth and Sustainability - Terry's Advice

  • Look at examples from around the world. How do more advanced companies that are similar to yours manage to be successful? How have other business leaders overcome the challenges they faced? Be proactive in keeping ahead of the pace of change at work, while enjoying the more relaxed pace of life in Chatham-Kent during your leisure time.
  • Reach outside Chatham-Kent’s borders. Technology allows local businesses to enjoy Chatham-Kent’s low business costs, while reaching larger customer bases in other areas. What is the least risky way for you to take advantage of that opportunity?
  • Take advantage of the resources in Chatham-Kent. There are far more people, programs and services in place to provide support for local entrepreneurs now than there ever used to be – Economic Development Services, the Small Business Centre, The Ground Floor, Community Futures Development Corporation, and the list goes on. Take advantage of them.

Resilience and Diversity in Chatham-Kent

Terry credits Chatham-Kent for its resilience in the face of change. Since immigrating here, he has witnessed the leaders of our municipality persevere through the challenges of the recession and significant manufacturing closures, among other economic strains. It is evident that there are many members of the community who enjoy Chatham-Kent in the present and are committed to seeing it realize a greater and grander future.

Terry and Chandra are among those leaders. They love Chatham-Kent for what it affords them – lots of space for their children to play in, participation in multiple hobbies and sports, beautiful natural amenities, and an overall high quality of life. They appreciate Chatham-Kent’s history, its significance in shaping North America as a whole, and how a greater acknowledgement of our community’s roots can shape and protect our future. Finally, Terry and Chandra see great potential in Chatham-Kent. There is definitely a higher quality of life here, and their local contributions are geared towards the future of rapid growth in Chatham-Kent.

Embracing Expertise from Different Cultures

Terry’s background in economics has taught him to learn from the rest of the world, and he encourages the same practice in Chatham-Kent. By embracing diversity, this area can become stronger, more innovative and even more resilient. To be proactive, we must know where we are ineffective and what solutions are available to us. Expertise from different cultures can help us identify both more quickly.

As an immigrant himself, Terry encourages all newcomers to embrace Chatham-Kent by taking the time to appreciate the local history and to learn about sectors of the economy, such as agricultural and biotech research, that will shape our community’s future. Knowing what is important to the municipality has helped him to understand and appreciate the community more. He also encourages newcomers to speak up about their observations and offer their solutions to local challenges. In Terry's words, “Don’t assume you have all of the answers, but also don’t assume that you have none.” Chatham-Kent can learn from its newcomers!