Kevin Weekes is 44, and always looking for more. He has been that way since his youth, growing up in the ethnically diverse Toronto suburb of Scarborough, Ont.
As a child he used a margarine container as an improvised goalie glove, practicing making big-time saves with a tennis ball in his parents’ apartment. Eventually, he was able to channel his talent to elite minor hockey, then junior and finally the NHL, when he was drafted by the Florida Panthers in 1993.
12 seasons and 1 Stanley Cup Final appearance later, he hung up his pads in 2009. Not yet 35, retirement wasn’t going to be filled with golf and lazy weekends at the cottage, Weekes was set on his building his brand from the broadcast booth to the boutique.
Bridgit recently spoke with Weekes about his business interests and motivations.
Bridgit: You played in the pre-salary cap and post salary cap-era, how did you react to a change in what you were worth?
KW: It was different, because the market got reset and as a result, you have to see where you fall and adjust. It was eye opening for all of us, the stars are always going to get the lions share and understandably, so for a lot of the rest of us, we had to reassess what our market value was based on the new economy, so to speak.
Bridgit: Why did you decide to pursue a clothing venture (No5Hole apparel) after your playing career was finished, as opposed to earlier?
KW: When I was playing, it was all about the game. Training, practicing, playing – recover, repeat. I was all consumed on playing, because when you don’t tick all your boxes in your preparation and commitment as a goalie, the next night you let in five and three of them are terrible and you get pulled, nobody cares, they are all looking at you.
Bridgit: You moved to the US permanently five years ago, how have you found the business culture to be similar or different?
KW: I would say it’s hyper-different. It’s bigger scale, based on population density. In general, there is an environment that is very business centric and I love that. I find there are a lot of different examples of people doing great globally in their own respective fields. Success is encouraged in a lot of ways and I want to be amongst the best.
I’ve spoken to fellow Canadians from other walks of life that have moved here and elsewhere, and they felt they had to move to an environment that was more conducive (to their growth).
We have a lot of great talented men and women at home that have the ability to be world class or are already world class, I would like to see that celebrated more. I would like to see continued stories of companies and entrepreneurs, you name it, that are world class, and they are able to maximize their ability back home and abroad.
Bridgit: Hockey is expensive and time consuming, did you have any other jobs to help pay your way to becoming pro? What lessons have stayed with you from that time?
KW: I delivered flyers for Pizza Pizza at Bellamy Rd. and Ellesemere Rd. in Scarborough. I went on about three runs selling flowers (laughs), but my real job was as teaching at Craig Billington’s goalie school in Gravenhurst, Ont., and a few other goalie schools in Scarborough which I started when I was 13. It taught me to think beyond myself, it also taught me the meaning of grinding as a means of earning and serving others. I worked at Billington’s goalie school for two summers, after my first and second seasons in Owen Sound, Ont., when I started OHL Hockey. I didn’t have a car and I was eventually able to buy a ’95 or ’96 Honda Civic from a guy at Kennedy Rd. and Finch Ave. It taught me the value of hard work, and why it’s so important. You work for what you earn, and that’s a trait that serves me to this day and why I am not on the air just one day a week but six and sometimes seven days a week.
Bridgit: They say you have to spend money to make money, to what degree has this been true in your ventures?
KW: I think it holds true, but you have to be strategic. Business is changing, consumer habits are changing, consumer accessibility is changing. Data provides a lot of key insights into understanding the markets, who you are catering to, where they’re at, what they want, what they know they don’t want (laughs) and what they don’t know that they do want, and finding ways to be able to connect with that. That’s been a big part of it for us on the wearables in No5Hole. As far as content and TV, there have been quantum changes that way. Invest yourself, invest in your social platforms, invest in your appearance, all those things that are tangible.