B.C. ELECTION 2017: Todd Stone's journey from fry cook to Minister of Transportation - InfoNews

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B.C. ELECTION 2017: Todd Stone's journey from fry cook to Minister of Transportation

Todd Stone chose to meet at PDK Cafe in downtown Kamloops in the midst of campaigning in the May 9 provincial election.
May 03, 2017 - 8:00 PM

KAMLOOPS – Somewhere along the road from a self-defined “accidental entrepreneur” to software company CEO, to MLA and incumbent candidate for Kamloops South-Thompson, Todd Stone says he spotted a link between hard work and luck.

He works away four days each week and had to make a deal with his wife Chantelle that Sundays are always reserved for the family. 

Every week Stone flies from Kamloops to Victoria on Sunday night and returns home Thursday night. Friday he works from his constituency office in downtown Kamloops and Saturday is spent taking part in community events.

“While I don’t have the quantity of time at home, the quality is there,” Stone says.

It starts with church and then back to the house for a big breakfast. The rest of the day’s agenda is decided by his wife Chantelle, and their three daughters, Hannah, Sydney and Caitlin.

The kids are currently into geocaching, biking and spending time at Shuswap Lake, he says.

“The girls are very competitive, they get that from their mother,” Stone says with a laugh.

Stone says that every decision he takes part in he tries to consider how it would affect his kids.

“They make me laugh, they make me cry, they make me frustrated and proud. I’m so excited to see how they’ll evolve as people,” he says.

Hit the rewind button to a time when Stone wasn’t juggling government jobs and family life and you’d find him at his first job working as a fry cook for $3.65 per hour.
He worked at Bonanza restaurant in Kamloops.

“I was so proud that after an eight hour shift I’d make about $20 after tax, but I got all the free potato skins I could eat,” Stone says with a laugh.

He finished his first year at TRU when it was the University College of the Cariboo, then completed his studies at the University of Victoria. During his time at UVIC he rubbed shoulders with a young Christy Clark.

“She never suffered fools lightly and she’s always had strong views and opinions. Whether you agree or disagree with her she always commanded respect,” Stone says.
After university Stone worked closely with Gordon Campbell in the 1996 provincial election he says they "should have won.”

“We lost and that was my first up close and personal taste of provincial politics. I was staring down five more years of being part of the opposition and I left his office in 1997,” Stone says.

Stone took a step away from politics and entered the private sector where he snagged a deal of a lifetime that would certainly impress Donald Trump.

He had his eye on a product line an owner was selling. Stone says the owner heard his proposal, believed he’d fail and then “laughed him out of the office.” The owner refused to sell it to him.

Stone raised what he calls “love money” from his family and was prepared to offer $10,000 to the owner. At the second meeting the owner apologized and told him that he saw failure in Stone’s future, however was willing to sell the product for one dollar.

“I’ve come to realize that later in life, that’s what entrepreneurship is all about. It’s about recognizing an opportunity in your gut, and making the judgment call to embrace it or not,” Stone says.

Stone didn’t reveal how much he planned on offering the owner until years later.

His company made $300,000 in the first year, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Stone had to re-mortgage his house, and faced uncertainty about having enough in the bank to complete payroll for his employees.

“I don’t believe luck comes before hard work, but with hard work, every now and then you do get a break and some things will go your way. You have to take the risk in order for that to happen,” Stone says.

Stone says laying off employees always hit him hard and knew that if layoffs ever became easy, he would walk away.

“In business if you get to a point where that doesn’t bother you and it doesn’t hit you at an emotional level, it’s probably time to retire and move on to something else. If not for your people, what else do you have?”

At the time when he re-entered politics, things were moving along well with his company and had a young family at home.

“Opportunities rarely present themselves on your ideal timeline. Despite the family and business challenges, this was a huge opportunity to step up,” Stone says.

Stone is a candidate for Kamloops-South Thompson in the May 9 provincial election.

Get caught up on all the important news and issues of 2017 B.C. election in the Thompson-Okanagan by clicking here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kim Anderson or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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