At the age of 27 Robert Wilton didn’t know that 40 years in the future he was going to have a beautiful family, a wife of 39 years and a business that generates over 60 million per year. All Robert knew was that hard work pays off. Robert was born into a family without much money and never wanted poverty to be on his or his family’s mind. “Hard work is interpreted differently by each person.” Wilton states. “And I knew that my definition was a little more than the others.”
Wilton graduated Ryerson University with a business administration degree with a focus on sales and marketing. Not finding a job in his designated field, he took up a landscaping job and stuck to it for 5 years, only to be fired; his boss enforced certain policies which Wilton refused to implement as he felt they would compromise his integrity. Understanding the business inside and out, and with his knowledge from university, Wilton started his own commercial landscaping business: Clintar. Clintar just celebrated their 40th anniversary and operates in Canada and the US with 22 landscaping franchise partners.
Wilton admits that his 40-year journey had its ups and downs, but his motto never changed: “work hard”. “You have to be the first one up and the last one to go to bed.” Says Wilton. “I would stand on my head to make sure every customer was happy.” It certainly showed; Clintar has developed a very loyal customer base with some as long as 35 years and counting.
Clintar adapted the franchise model in 1984 and had the same approach to make them happy. They centralized everyone’s back office, they do all administrative functions from payables, receivables, mange cash-flow, and even take care of payroll for each individual franchisee.
In his personal life, Wilton said he certainly married the right woman and says she always was supportive of his business and work ethic. “Marriage is an on-going education with lots of give and take. I quickly learned that the man is not always right,” Robert chuckled. And says he could bring many lessons he had with his marriage, to managing franchise partners. “It always starts with choosing the right person.” Robert says.
Clintar is still growing strong; they currently have 2% market share of the industry nationwide. They see great opportunity as large national companies are conglomerating commercial properties, making it easier for Clintar to get more business and expand into new markets. His family – sons and grandchildren – are very much involved with the business and Wilton continues to play an active role in Clintar and doesn’t plan on slowing down.