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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Apr. 22, 202005:10 AM EST

'Serial entrepreneur' Bruce Fafard positive amid pandemic uncertainty

“I’ve seen several business cycles,” he says. “We always come back.”

A self-described serial entrepreneur, Bruce Fafard said he started four companies, sold two successfully and one didn’t work out.

He came out whole with the other.

At 62, Fafard has navigated recessions and economic shocks, taking his lumps as a small business owner and a credit union CEO. 

Now he’s working through the COVID-19 pandemic, with a positive outlook.

“I’ve seen several business cycles,” he said. “We always come back.”

Since February, Fafard has been leading ExecHQ in Jacksonville as a principal in the Phoenix-based consulting firm’s Northeast Florida office.

Before that, he led Jacksonville-based 121 Financial Credit Union as president and CEO from 2015 through September 2019 and led several financial services firms before that.

Fafard said he left 121 Financial on good terms in a mutual agreement. “The board wanted to go in a different direction than I thought the organization needed to go,” he said.

He began looking at management consulting. 

With 19 years as a credit union leader and previous experience leading and owning diverse industries, he looked at franchises and found ExecHQ.

He holds a masters degree in business administration, computer and information services from the University of New Haven in Connecticut. His leadership positions include president of Canaan Corp., operations vice president at Interface Inc., vice president at Connex Credit Union and president and CEO of Scient Federal Credit Union before joining 121. He also is the incoming 2020-21 president of Leadership Jacksonville and starts the position July 1.

Canaan was a commercial flooring company his group sold to Interface, a global commercial flooring company.

ExecHQ offers C-suite experience solutions to businesses from startups to Fortune 1000 companies. Fafard’s office is in the Regus executive suites at the Eight Forty One building on the Downtown Southbank.

Fafard said the February timing to launch the ExecHQ office wasn’t the best, considering that the coronavirus shut down the world in March.

“It’s still a good decision,” he said. 

Fafard said he is working pro bono with two small businesses and became a SCORE mentor with the U.S. Small Business Administration to offer free business mentoring and education.

“I’ve always had the heart of an entrepreneur,” he said.

He sold Canaan and real estate investment businesses; took a loss on a sailboat-leasing company; and he came out whole with an indoor golfing venture.

Fafard said he focuses on small to medium-size businesses, perhaps one to two years into the venture when they are “starting to gain some traction, but not sure how to leverage and get to that next step.”

“Having lived it, those are the kind of businesses I’m looking to help accelerate their growth,” he said.

At ExecHQ, he provides a free assessment to businesses before they agree on a plan.

”We partner with our businesses,” he said “We want to see this through to grow your business to be successful.”

Fafard offers advice to small business owners on reaching the other side of the COVID-19 economic disruption. 

“Unfortunately I think we will see some thinning of the ranks in the small business community. It’s not something anybody wants. It’s the lifeblood of our community,” he said.

“As soon as we can get this behind us, we need to be there for the small businesses,” he said.

“We’ll get through it. I am positive we will get through it.”


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