FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Laureen Regan
March 26, 2019
Laureen Regan loves Calgary. Her BOOM Group rewards business is 'booming' and she has considerably more that a part-time role negotiating relationships between Calgary businesses [ Ireland-Canada Centre for Commerce, Calgary since 2010] and Ireland as Honorary Vice Consul, Trade and Investment, Ireland since 2014 – she has some privileges like Consular Corp. license plates and she gets free parking, anywhere. Her passion is palpable, her good works help others feather their nests …
In the beginning … she was born in Waterford, Ireland. Her mom ran an upscale hair salon in Dalkey, an affluent suburb of Dublin. Mom and Laureen moved to Canada – first to Edmonton where mom resumed her career running hair salons, met a Norwegian who became step-dad. Laureen has a younger brother. The family relocated to Calgary for dad’s work when she was 12. Following high school (she says she was an average student) at St. Francis she almost became a journalist, opting instead for a two-year program at SAIT where she earned a Diploma in Applied Arts in Business Administration.
Her career took her can-do attitude and appetite for sales to a variety of skill building jobs; Three Buoys Houseboats, Purple Pages – she loved the sales atmosphere and learned her can-do attitude served her well. Then an adventure in England before returning to Calgary and starting her own business Karaoke Connection which she built, ran and then sold. Following a sales stint with Cantel in telecom sales she again started a business – Name That Tune, which proliferated in pubs and morphed into Regan Productions producing videos, entertainment and TV, which unfolded into an 18 year run of a TV magazine show for ACCESS TV for corporate and government customers in charge of sales and as Executive Producer.
In the 2013 flood impacted her condo project (she was the Condo Board Pres.) in Mission derailed her for 23 months of restoration work …
What else could she do? In 2010 she’s bought what she describes as a ‘corner of the desk’ business – Social Club Discount Listing which was a 3,000 member merchant discount program for employers to offer their staff or for large employee organizations to provide a benefit to their members. Fast-forward to today, the business has restructured ownership, rebranded in 2014 as BOOM GROUP, has currently has 50,000+ members and 100 brands/businesses offering discounts to those members. And, it seems, she’s just starting to scale this to go wide but first she’s going deep in terms of online platform and structure. She’s got some whiz-bang talent on her team from her telecom and TV days. The business model is ‘selling to the employer’ a two-year program for which the employer pays and their employees derive discount benefits. A 90% renewal rate certainly validates success of the model. She doesn’t run it alone – she has a partner, a small staff and an office dog, Ella, a rescue mutt – clearly not a ‘corner of the desk’ business any longer. There are growth plans but I’ve been asked not to spill any beans …
In terms of personal stuff I needed to pry – she married her long-term partner Doug Junor (he coaches in the telecom space) in 2016. I asked why there hadn’t been a marriage and children prior to that – her answer was “I’d never met anyone else I’d want to marry”.
One little side-bar P.S.: if you are in Vancouver riding the Sky-Train, when you hear those station stop announcements – that voice you here is Laureen’s.
Why are you successful? “because I’m in Alberta and I stayed here. I work hard to deliver on what I say I’m going to do. Hard work. My mom’s influence on me to believe in myself.”
What has held you back? “downturns! I have no regrets – because every reversal and bump along the way contributed in some way to great accomplishment”.
How do you see your business – the member rewards business – going forward over the next quarter?
… very good! We are getting new market access – expanding outside Alberta. We are building some back-end innovation for our website to support further growth and better functionality to better engage our members in Western Canada.
And over the next five years?
… more features specific to our members; right offers, right time, right place – and more tools via our phone APP. Technology will help us drive better engagement so we make an even better case for employers to add value for their employees.
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… do they do what they say they will do? Reliability is so important. I’m not cheap but I’m cautious with money.
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Laureen/BOOM Group, and why do they do business with you, why have they hired you, over your competitors?
… because they trust me, because they get good results and they see “what’s in it for them”.
How would you describe your leadership/management style?
… it’s been a big learning journey. There are five of us, one is part-time. Let’s ask Pat!
Pat’s answer: she has amazing vision, thinks globally, she lets me do my job and she trusts me to get it done.
… what’s that? When you love what you do you are always thinking about it – it never goes away. Saturdays are ‘take care of mom’ days. She’s 93 and has some dementia issues …
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… the first/biggest would the flood – I don’t think I would have changed/developed this business or become as confident of my capabilities if it had not been for those experiences. The second, dealing with someone with dementia is a great teacher. It teaches you to be kind, that everything doesn’t last forever, to be ‘present’ and that you can’t fix everything.
… I run a little, walk the dog, hang out with my husband.
What do you read?
… not a lot these days. Lots of business things – especially about technology and loyalty business things.
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