Cardinal was founded in 1967 as a local Toronto manufacturer of corrugated boxes. For 35 years Cardinal was run by Norman Hughes. He was a hands-on boss. He knew everything about the business; how the machines ran, his customer’s preferences and order size, even his employees’ favourite ice cream flavour.

For Norman the business was his life he strived to run the best business possible and the best way he knew how to show this was through building exceptional relationships with his customers. Their needs were his needs, their problems his. No matter how big or small a problem was Norman was there to fix it. And this is how he ran his family business for over 35 years.

But there is a time for everything and Norman felt it was time to hand over the reigns to his youngest son Brent. Transitions are always hard, Brent wasn’t his father and his father wasn’t Brent. They had different management styles and different skill sets; Brent was a finance guy he was hands-off, a number cruncher. Cardinal’s employees and customers weren’t used to this approach and the transition was more difficult than they had hoped.

For a time things were tough. Cardinal had lost some key employees and long-term customers. This isn’t unusual; every business owner has experienced some hard times. But enough customers stayed loyal, felt the service they were provided and the support they received more than made up for the occasional mistake during this time to keep Cardinal’s doors open.

Unfortunately, Brent’s father wasn’t around to see Cardinal’s turn around. He had passed away before things had settled down. And they had. Cardinal under Brent’s leadership had become profitable and has begun to look once again at expansion.

 Though Brent may not admit it himself, he has stepped into his father’s shoes and they fit just fine. You won’t see him prowling the warehouse floor or being the point of contact for customers he prefers to leave that to Cardinal’s capable staff. But he’s there every day making sure things run smoothly and orders get to their customers on time.  

Norman ran Cardinal for 35 years, Brent hopes to keep it in the family for at least that long.


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