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Dreams and Donuts


When travelling over 16 years ago, Jordan Cash woke up from a dream about owning a donut shop. He even dreamed of a name for his shop: Cartems. In Vancouver, that name has now come to mean delicious artisanal donuts.

Upon his return from travel, Cash completed a 16-month MBA program at the University of British Columbia, partnered with Chef Rags, and the two opened a pop-up shop that became very popular. Fast forward to today—that small team and modest pop-up shop has now grown into an enterprise of over 50 employees and three prime Vancouver locations.

Investing in People

The reason for Cartems’ success could be attributed to their delicious donuts, such as their Apple Fritter, Earl Grey, or Vanilla Bean, to name a few standouts. But according to Cash, the success of Cartems really comes down to the staff: back shop bakers and storefront greeters, donut slingers and coffee makers. “It all became clear that sustained success and legacy come from enrolling in people. Investing in people. I genuinely believe that if you focus on that and treat them like they matter, they will come into work understanding why they are there. That’s where your success comes from,” Cash explains.

Donut slingers Miya Kosowick (main image), Kira Pratt (left) and Lilian Fong Hoon (right) are all smiles while working at Cartems on Main Street.

For Cash, it’s not about squeezing every last penny out of his employees or making them work faster and harder. It’s not about being short-sighted and thinking about profits for a day or even a week. “None of that stuff is nearly as important as putting people first. I don’t see that a lot. While I imagine that there are some businesses that [practise this], I don’t think it is the norm.”

The Cartems Legacy

What will Cartems’ legacy be? Hopefully, it will be about how they put people first (all the while serving a good donut). Cash hopes university business classes will one day refer to Cartems as a company with a business model that is unlike any other business; a model that future businesses will implement. Cash is aware that his staff won’t be at Cartems forever. “People don’t get a job front-of-house and say, ‘Mom, Dad, I’ve made it!’” he laughs. “And as much as I wish that everyone stayed, I get that that is not the case. So, it behooves us to do everything we can to make our people the best they can be and arm them with valuable skills and the right information for when they go on to their next job. That way they can exceed and excel further down the road in life…. Go forth and be awesome!”

Cartems’ motto is “Smiles. Conversations. Donuts.” And based on what Cash has to say about his company, you can expect just that: friendly, smiling faces, meaningful conversations with their awesome staff, and, of course, decadent donuts!

PRM 2018 cover

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Issue 2018

The Transition Issue

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