Every successful company is guided by its driving force. For FNHI, our driving force is CEO Steven Rossi. You have seen his analyst interviews and read quotes from him in our press releases. But to help you, our readers, gain a deeper understanding of the man on a mission we decided to ask Mr. Rossi five questions. The questions and his answers are below.
1. How did you become interested in pickup trucks?
We always had trucks and I always loved them. Growing up in northern Ontario, we used to have to dig ourselves out from the second floor from the snow. A truck was essential to life. I’ve always loved the utility and power of a truck and never thought of driving or owning anything else.
2. What attracted you to truck covers?
Left Steven Rossi at age 17 in his first month selling parts
I started an auto parts store in 2005, having completed a few years of university for science and realizing it wasn’t for me. I was studying to become a paramedic or a doctor. I remember someone coming in asking for an “Extang Trifecta”. A friend of mine. I thought it was a joke, “what a funny name”. I realized it was a cover and I was able to find one; and make a few hundred dollars profit. Fast forward one year and I was the largest (and fastest growing) truck accessory store in my area! We used to have line-ups of trucks waiting for their covers. We were selling every popular brand and business was great. However, I realized that prices for the covers were going up; yet quality seemed to be getting worse. Leaking covers, missing hardware, rusting metal in short periods of time were evidence of what I saw happening. In that situation I saw an opportunity to design something easier to use, well built, and aggressively priced. So with the help of a friend and his computer aided design (CAD) software, I began the journey to create Worksport.
3. Have you always been interested in product design?
Yes. I’ve always loved finding ways to do something better. One of the things I have learned in life is that we don’t know what we don’t know. Innovation begins when we open ourselves to the possibility that there are better ways of doing things and then fearlessly challenge what we think we already know. In terms of the truck cover world, I think the market we’re in has always been status quo. The models from 10, or 20 years ago have always sold. The Trifold was the first innovation in the 80’s/90’s and then the hard (Bakflip) was a mid-2000’s innovation. There hasn’t been anything notable since then. Yet, the truck itself has come such a long way. I think truck manufacturers, who are notorious for slow-playing releases, have been able to out innovate the products used on the trucks. That’s not good. That is a sign that our market is prime for disruption by way of innovation. I think the Alpha platform (and thereby the Helios) will get the market closer to par with the innovation and quality of the trucks the product is used on. I believe I have the ability to lead that disruption with my love for innovative thought and design.
4. Have you ever owned a pickup truck?
At one time I owned nearly 100 pick-up trucks. At any given time, I own between 10-20 trucks. Right now, I have my Ram Eco Diesel, a few GM and Chevy trucks for work and I’ve got a 1968 GM truck I’m looking to work on over time. All my trucks benefit from the use of a Worksport cover.
5. What can you tell the readers about yourself that would really surprise them?
I spent my entire youth studying music, music theory, music history. I’ve played and toured in junior symphonic bands and competed in many competitions. I love music and I aim to resume, when time is available, my study of music history and pick up with the study of the vibraphones and Indian Tabla drums. I graduated as an Ontario scholar from high school just a few months after I turned 17 years old and went immediately into the University of Toronto’s prestigious life science program. I paused that education to focus on my businesses. I will finish my post-secondary education, switching to history and business. My education will be just for my own thirst for knowledge, and not to be monetized.
To our readers, now you know a little more about why the team at FNHI is so optimistic about the future of the company. We would like to thank Steven Rossi for sharing with us his back story and providing deeper insight into who he is as a leader, visionary and innovator.