Inspired by healthy living and nature, Robb MacDonald has successfully taken his passions and turned them into an influential, multifaceted business.
Originally a marketing and communications consultant, Robb used his social marketing skills and a multi-disciplinary approach to educate communities about healthy eating, and living a more active lifestyle. His focus on behaviour change pushed beyond awareness, creating change at a community and societal level.
After relocating to Orillia with his partner in 2009, Robb approached the Community Development Corporation (CDC) to expand his staff and offerings. “The staff at the CDC took a professional and personal approach. Together we developed a business case for a loan, there was plenty of communication and guidance, and the CDC was focused on putting my needs first. It felt like a partnership.” recalls Robb.
Shortly after receiving financing for his consulting business, there was an unforeseen shift in the industry, and decreased government funding created more competition and ultimately less work was available. Robb didn’t let this shift hinder him though; instead he found positive in the negative, seeing an opportunity to transition his focus into his partner’s business, setting up Kind Living with Sue Sinclair as a new division, and together he and Sue have been able to provide unique offerings to the community.
In 2016, Robb returned to the CDC for help to register a new division of his company – The Dog Power Sports Centre. “Coming to the CDC to register the business saved so much time and took a large weight off of my shoulders.” Robb is working towards bringing 4-season dog-powered sports/recreation to the area. Widely popular in Norway and Scandinavia, joring, the Norwegian word for ‘driving’ or ‘pulling’, builds mental and physical strength while enhancing relationships between humans and animals. “It’s like a Venn Diagram: activity for humans + activity for dogs + relationship building = health benefits for all parties.” explains Robb.
Robb also owns and operates a new complementary business called Up & Out. It offers a retail component that coordinates with the Dog Power Sports Centre. Their tag line: Sporting Gear for Trails & Tails. Up & Out will carry 4 lines of shoes, accessories, apparel, and technical gear. “It’s really important to us to not carry lines that compete with the area’s existing businesses. It’s important to coexist and compliment what’s already here.” explains Robbs. Up & Out will be one of the few retailers in Canada to carry the Non-stop Dogwear line.
Connecting with the CDC and utilizing the resources provided has helped Robb achieve his goals. “As a small business owner, the CDC is on speed dial. They are my go-to for anything small business related. If they don’t have the answers, they always point me in the right direction.”
Written and photographed by CDC Office & Marketing Coordinator, Samantha Vessios