by Jennifer Worley
An Exclusive Interview with Dave Doyle
When Dave Doyle was a teenager, he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: a business owner. What kind of business wasn’t on his radar yet, but there was no doubt in his young, determined mind that he would one day own his own business.
Nearly thirty jobs later, including stints as a private investigator, door-to-door salesman and oil rig worker, Doyle, 39, is the owner of two Pita Pit franchises in Grande Prairie. Since opening more than a decade ago, they have become two of the top revenue performers among the company’s three hundred locations in Canada and the United States.
Doyle saw many parts of Peace Country when he was growing up, as his family—parents Celine and Ed and three younger siblings—lived in Donnelly, Peace River, Manning and Dawson Creek. He spoke only French until the age of 5, when he was introduced to English-speaking communities and schools. In 1987 his father, a United Grain Growers district manager for southern Alberta, was transferred to Calgary, where Doyle attended middle and high school.
His youth also included a variety of jobs, beginning at age 12 when he had his first paper route. He enjoyed the freedom that came with a paycheque and was open to new opportunities.
“In all my jobs, growing up, I’d really tried to put myself in the positions of my managers, supervisors and the owners, and it was just natural,” says Doyle. “My wheels were always turning. I just call it the entrepreneurial spirit.”
After graduating from high school, Doyle still wasn’t certain where his career path would lead, but he knew post-secondary education was the next step. He enrolled at Mount Royal College (now University) and completed a two-year program in criminology, followed by jobs in security and private investigation.
Then a girl led him to Edmonton. Although the personal relationship didn’t last, the move did lead to the next chapter in his career and his life.
Around this time, Doyle also learned something about himself. One day, as he watched talk show host Maury Povich interview individuals with Tourette syndrome, the high energy, fidgeting and unusual tics he had experienced his entire life—which his father referred to as his “habits”—suddenly made sense.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, it explained my life,” says Doyle, who did further research on the condition at the University of Alberta and went in search of experts and doctors. Although the two specialists he spoke to on the phone would not see him, they agreed with his self-diagnosis.
“Everything changed for me. This gave me a way to understand why I seemed to be different from everyone else,” Doyle says. “It felt good to know I wasn’t alone and there was a reason for the weird tics and annoying habits that had plagued me every waking minute of every day of my life, ever since I could remember.”
He continues, “Since then, I’ve seen my successes as accomplishing something in spite of dealing with Tourette’s. It’s the extra challenge that I have to go through that most people don’t. Having said that, I believe everyone has an extra challenge to overcome and a powerful story that can help others. This just happens to be mine.”
Doyle walked into his first Pita Pit, on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton, thirteen years ago. He was impressed by the fresh concept and the delicious pita. He also noticed how busy the manager was and offered to work part time after he finished his day job at Totem Building Supplies. It was the beginning of his Pita Pit story, one that soon saw him managing the Whyte Avenue location and later a second store in downtown Edmonton.
Always observing and absorbing the way the business ran, Doyle knew there was opportunity for him here, although just what it was wasn’t clear to him yet. Then one day, one of the owners commented that a Pita Pit would soon be opening in Grande Prairie but did not yet have a franchisee.
“I didn’t say a word. I went home and couldn’t sleep all that night. I went into work the next day, pulled the two owners that were there at the time into the office and gave them my notice,” says Doyle. He confidently informed them, “I’m moving to Grande Prairie—and I’m opening that location.”
Doyle then began calling every relative and friend he had to raise the money he needed. But before anyone could commit, his Edmonton owners made a proposition. They would buy the franchise and Doyle would run it as a managing partner, earning shares and buying them out when the time came. Within two years, he owned 25 percent of the franchise and, with help from his parents, he bought the remaining 75 percent. A year later he opened his second location in downtown Grande Prairie.
As he was succeeding in business, Doyle also met the girl of his dreams, Amanda, 33, while watching the 2002 Olympic gold-medal hockey game between Canada and the United States. The loonie sunk into the ice for good luck worked: the Canadian team won and the couple fell in love. They have been married for eight years and have two boys,
Ashton, 10 and Rhys, 9.
Reflecting on his quick decision to move to Grande Prairie and open the Pita Pit, Doyle says it was a defining point in his life. He calls it his think-and-grow-rich moment, referring to the 1937 book by Napoleon Hill. For Doyle—who is inspired by many authors, including motivational speaker and writer Earl Nightingale; Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad; and Ken Blanchard, author of Raving Fans—there was more at play than just a good head for business.
“There’s a lot working outside of us that we do not understand. Whether or not we see it or our peers and society choose to believe it, it is there. It’s working all the time and it’s all based on energy and thought,” says Doyle. “As Earl Nightingale says, what you truly think about most of the time is what you become.”
Making the right choice is something Doyle has turned into a personal mantra: Be good. Do good. Always. Known as the “high-five guy”—he prefers this to a handshake because it’s fun, energetic and memorable—he’s also known for his parting words: Be good. On the surface, this may sound like a suggestion to be on one’s best behaviour, but that’s not what he means.
“When Isay ‘be good,’ I’m putting an energy or a vibe out there to people to be good. For me it means to be good in everything you do. You do good things, you think good things and you’ll just be a good person.”
He shares this philosophy with his employees to help them realize their own potential, as well as with Grande Prairie’s holistic community. He’s been nurturing a relationship with this community since he brought the Pita Pit concept to the first health and wellness expo in the city more than a decade ago.
“Obviously I have a very strong belief in my products because of the health aspects. Because of that, I’ve always felt that anything I do, I want it to be something that’s good for people,” says Doyle.
At the expos, where he’s become a regular, Doyle has met many holistic practitioners and experienced some of the modalities they offer, including Reiki, reflexology and energy healing. He is intrigued by the numerous quality products offered by practitioners and by the business model many of them use: network marketing. Equally fascinating is their approach to doing business, which centers on the product rather than on profit.
“They’re so focused on the product, and not the business. It’s kind of a shift, because they truly believe in the products,” says Doyle. “That started really shifting me into this point of view as well. So now I’m thinking, you’ve got this great business model and you’ve got these amazing products. Now to combine the two would be really cool.”
That is precisely what he has done with his latest business venture, selling Organo Gold coffee and tea products. Ironically, the product he is now most passionate about was something he initially shunned because of how it was introduced to him by a friend and business colleague.
“It came to me on the business side of things, and I completely resisted and rejected it until I experienced the health and wellness benefits,” says Doyle. After his friend made several failed pleas, he finally agreed to help her win a sales contest and bought a box of the instant coffee, made from Brazilian arabica bean and containing ganoderma. Much to his surprise, it tasted good and left him feeling energized and sleeping better, without the side effects of his usual cups of coffee. He hasn’t had a regular cup of coffee since. In the four and a half years he has been selling the product, he’s seen many examples of people improving their health.
“That’s why I do what I do, combining health and wellness with business, like I did—organically I guess—with Pita Pit. I just saw the concept, knew it was good and ran with it because I believed in it. And selling Organo Gold is the same kind of thing. This has become my driving passion.”
Doyle’s connections with the holistic community and his business experiences continue to inspire him to work on his own health and wellness.
“I think the very first thing to take care of is mental health, emotional and spiritual, which I think all fits together, because if you don’t feel right in your head and your heart, you can’t do anything with your body anyway,” says Doyle, a hockey dad who also plays the sport to keep in shape.
Doyle has also connected with a local support group for people with Tourette syndrome and hopes that he can inspire anyone in his shoes, particularly youth, to reachtheir potential.
“I know that kids growing up with Tourette’s, especially with verbal or obvious physical tics, deal with a lot of stuff, internally and often externally. So if I can help even a handful of people do something beyond what they thought they could, or be a source of motivation or inspiration by sharing my story and successes, I’m doing my part to make the world better for someone else.”
Jennifer Worley is a Calgary-based writer with more than 20 years in the media industry. She has written on a wide range of topics, including health and fitness, travel and fashion. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including the Calgary Herald, the Calgary Sun and Flare magazine.