Profile Monday: Oh Canada! McLarney Stays True

THE ROAD TAKEN – An inside look at a SIPA member, the choices he or she has made on the road to success, and the challenges ahead

In honor of Canada Day on Thursday, July 1, we present…

Michael McLarney, Managing Director, NRHA Canada, Editor & President, Hardlines Inc.

SIPA: What was your first job out of college and how did you get into this business?
McLARNEY: I actually took several years to finish university, during which time I hitchhiked throughout North America and worked as everything from a cook to a school bus driver. After university, I got my first job as a junior editorial assistant at Maclean-Hunter, then the largest publishing house in Canada. I started out working for a trade magazine for the hardware/home improvement industry and ended up as its editor a few years later.

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road.
When I struck out on my own and started my own communications company from my basement.

In brief, describe your business/company?
Hardlines Inc. is a news and information service for the retail home improvement industry. It offers everything from a free daily news service, weekly e-newsletter and conferences to specialized industry reports and consulting services. In addition, we were approached three years ago to represent the North American Retail Hardware Association in Canada. I am also now the managing director of NRHA Canada. (We’re not in the basement any longer.)

What are two or three important concepts or rules that have helped you to succeed in business?
Stay true to your word. Follow the money. Off the record stays off the record.

What is the single-most successful thing that your company is doing right now?
Our core business, our e-newsletter, remains our bread and butter, and the basis for every other way we leverage our brand.

Do you see a trend or path in 2010 that you know you have to lock onto? Any key business models?
Our company slogan or tagline has nothing to do with news or publishing. It’s “Connecting the Home Improvement Industry.” In this era of email, voicemail and Facebook, we continue to find ways to connect the industry, whether through our conference, executive breakfasts or our international buyer forums.

What are the key benefits of SIPA membership for you and your team?
Ongoing information about other companies, case studies, the annual conference.

Where did you grow up?
Toronto, Canada’s largest city.

What college did you attend?
Glendon College, part of York University, where I finally completed a BA in English.

Is there a moment from that time that stands out?
Getting up at 4:30 in the morning to study my Shakespeare while running two businesses so I could get my university education and stop painting houses and working flea markets for a living.

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?
I am an avid bicycle rider, something I started doing after I shattered my leg in a car accident when I was in high school. It was easier for me to ride than it was to walk. It has kept me fit to this day.

What was the last book you read and movie you saw?
I just finished reading Evelyn Waugh’s “Unconditional Surrender” and watched “Gilda” (again), with Rita Hayworth, my absolute favorite film noir.

Additional comments?
While I am wary of promoting the publishing business as a way to make a living, it has been tremendously rewarding for me; and, with my business partner Beverly Allen, I enjoy immensely running my own business. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

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