The Tradebank story, starts in 1994 with a young man, John Porter, being accepted into engineering at the University of Waterloo, but not wanting to be far from the love of his life, Debbi, who was attending school at Brock University, John decided to change direction.
Rather than follow his dreams of playing varsity basketball, he chose to get a job selling security systems. A fast (and hungry) learner, John quickly rose to the top of sales within that company. He heard about barter through a sales manager who used to work at the security system company and went to a convention on barter in Toronto to find out more.
Being young, John didn't consider starting his own exchange and at the symposium met an older gentleman who was going to launch a franchised barter exchange in Canada called Tradebank. John joined the Tradebank team and signed on the first account in Tradebank in 1996 - Terence Webster Designs. Since there were no other members to trade with, Terry had to have confidence that John would do as he said and grow the network!
In spite of his early success, the owner of Tradebank did not feel John was old enough to own a franchise. John's parents, also interested in the opportunity, purchased the Hamilton franchise and John worked for them as a sales rep. During that time, John focused heavily on the Niagara market where he and Debbi now resided. After a year and a half of hard work, John, despite his youth, had earned the right to a franchise based on the sweat equity he had invested.
Despite a few successful franchisees, the owner of Tradebank at the time didn't seem capable of growing an area or adding or managing franchiees and started to look for a way out of the business. Naturally John was interested in running a national exchange and stepped up with a partner and acquired Tradebank Canada in 2001.
It took several years to revamp the systems and processes left behind from the previous owner. During that period of time, Tom Schnarr acquired the Tradebank Waterloo region, and John bought out his parents shares of Tradebank Hamilton in order to unite the Tradebank Golden Horseshoe as one large 'corporate store' franchise.
In 2005, John engineered the acquisition of 5 competitors. The biggest struggle from the acquisitions was managing and eliminating the bad habits allowed in the other exchanges (i.e. lack of fair pricing guidelines or frequent cash / trade blends). The same year Tradebank hired a full time CPA, CA, Gavin Duncan, to take on the role of controller (since promoted to VP of Operations) and was tasked to re-evaluate the processes, policies and procedures of Tradebank.
Between 2005 and 2010, Tradebank continued to work on absorbing the competitors clients, growing the Golden Horsehoe client base, absorbing several failing franchise regions, John buying out his partner, and Dan Cusack acquired the Tradebank Northern Ontario franchise. In 2009, Tradebank reinvented its Canadian barter franchise plan to give a larger percentage of the revenue and decision making to the franchisees.
Concurrently, Trevor Jones was hired as a full time graphic designer (since promoted to Creative Director) to develop a more consistent look for the Canadian barter franchise system.
In 2010, Charlotte and Neil Bonogofsky along with their daughter Brandy Wilde acquired the rights to Tradebank Southern Alberta. In 2011, Tradebank had one of its fastest launches ever in Regina with Dan Benesh. In 2013, the new fastest launch occurred in Saskatoon with Kim Groff.
In 2014, Marc Lamarche acquired Tradebank Ottawa and Stephen Porter acquired Tradebank Brant Norfolk Oxford. During that same year, Tradebank launched its own banking and CRM software in order to no longer be dependent on third-party solutions.
Latest News: Tradebank Winnipeg launches in Januray 2017!
From 2011 to 2015, sales and purchase volume rose 47.7%. In 2016 through April, the Tradebank Canada barter system was trending another 30% growth in volume across all regions.
While no one could predict the future, it does look very bright for Tradebank and its members. The balance of the 2016 year will be spent designing and developing a new client experience interface, further developing the existing franchises and growing the corporate new business development team.
Over the next few years we will grow from 1200 members in Niagara, Hamilton and Halton to well over 5000 between Ft. Erie and Toronto!
Our next target markets for franchise growth are: Calgary, Red Deer, Winnipeg, Windsor, Durham Region, Kingston & Peterborough.