Q&A With Award-Winning Company Culture Builder, Brian Scudamore

Date: November 27, 2020
employee culture builder o2e brands

Founder and CEO of O2E Brands, Brian Scudamore, shares his expertise on building magnetic company cultures. O2E came from taking ‘ordinary home services to exceptional’.

Brian Scudamore

You may be more familiar with 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, and Shack Shine… all companies that come under the O2E Brands banner.

Starting with 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, Brian knew that he had to change the way the world sees junk, and created his secret to success; combining exceptional customer service with attracting the right people.

Read more about O2E’s story.

We sat down with Brian and asked him to share his expertise on building magnetic company cultures.

What do you do daily to carry the culture?

You need to live the culture each and every day. As a founder, you are a magnet. As a leader, you have to live the values. I have to make sure I’m a bigger magnet and attract people to my cause, and find other magnets to also attract people and continue to build the culture. You need to find the right people and treat them right.

A lot of CEOs are invisible to frontline workers. What do you do that’s different to make sure you’re visible?

We all hear the term ‘leadership’ which gets used a lot, and not always correctly. I like to explain leadership as whether you have followers. I think that’s important. Every day I show up. It’s about picking the right time to be a leader and visible, and when not to be. You can say you care, or you can show you care. 

Every day we do a 7 minute stand up. I attend those meetings. I am a very visible CEO. I don’t usually talk in those meetings and leave it up to the other leaders, but I am present.

Companies associated with O2E Brands have received a number of awards for being a great place to work. How did these awards come about?

In 2005, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? were in British Colunbia’s best places to work list. It was our first time applying, and we received the number one position! It was a huge moment of pride. 

After that, other businesses and leaders started coming to us to learn from us. We leveraged the opportunity and started doing tours of our company, but we also took it as an opportunity to learn from visitors to find out what they were doing too. Just because we’re number 1 doesn’t mean we’re perfect. 

If you’re not making it on the list when you apply for these awards, ask your people ‘why’ and ‘what’ is making your palace great to work, and also not-so-great to work. Learn from your staff and make improvements.

Which employee program are you most proud of?

Our ‘101 life goals list’. I love that we inspire others within our company to overcome fears and tick off items on their bucketlist. 

We achieve life goals together. We come together as a team and cheer each other on.

A few years ago 17 people did Tough Mudder together. The following year we paid 50% of the ticket and we had a group of 100 complete Tough Mudder. As a result, we learnt that a team member couldn’t swim, which led us to pay for his first 3 swimming lessons to overcome that fear and obstacle.


Learn how Bucketlist can help you with Internal Programs to Boost Engagement

How do you continue to build a magnetic culture with people in different locations?

It’s how we bring them on board. Our onboarding process is full of sharing the vision, values and our painted picture.

Fit is also really important and something we never compromise. Particularly in franchising, we make sure the franchise partners are right as they’ll hire the right people too.

How do you recruit the right culture fit while also striving for inclusion and diversity?

I have always believed in inclusion. As a child who experienced exclusion, inclusion is really important to me. I have always wanted an organization that is open to everybody, no matter anything to do with their background.

As part of the interview process we do the ‘beer and barbeque’ test. We’re not looking for people to be just like us. We want diversity of people and opinions. 


You have a reputation of an extremely long recruitment process. What have you learnt over the years about making the decision on who to hire?

It’s about preserving the culture. We are slow to hire and quick to fire. Not so much about being quick to fire, but about being quick to have conversations about whether you’re both the right fit for each other.

We have a culture where people leave and they are always welcome back. We love it when people rejoin the team after experiencing another workplace. 


How do you counteract unintentional biased hiring?

Define what ‘fit’ means and have your values in line with them. The new hire needs to have ALL your values, not just some of them.

It’s also good to get feedback from more people than just the hiring manager.


In addition to the 101 life goals list program, what are some examples of successful programs that engage employees?

It’s the little things. It’s also about taking the business seriously but not yourself. In the Zoom world we live in and not being physically together, we’re having people schedule coffee talks and connect live to have a conversation. 

Some of the other programs I love are:

  • First round Friday: having people bring a drink and hanging out together. 
  • Investing in leaders and emerging leaders.
  • Creating a fun physical work environment. Every wall at O2E Brands has something funky on it. Quotes, quirky pictures, and it helps improve the mood. The reason behind this is also the storytelling, to tell the stories from over the years. 
  • Goal, Set & Review 1:1 program. Being intentional about 1:1 manager and employee meetings to achieve performance and investing in individuals.

Learn how Bucketlist can help you with Internal Programs to Boost Engagement

Find out more about the Goal, Set & Review process in our webinar with Advisor Websites CEO, Alex Wingert. Advisor Websites has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in the country in 2017, 2018 and 2019. They’ve also been recognized as one of the top 5 best workplaces in the province. In this webinar we discuss how they built a high performance culture.

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