The History Of Tim Hortons:
The first Tim Hortons store was opened in 1964 on 64 Ottawa Street North, near Dunsmure Rd., in Hamilton, Ontario. It has since grown into Canada’s largest national chain of coffee and doughnut shops, with over 1,500 stores across Canada. Tim Donut Ltd., the corporate headquarters of the chain, is located in Oakville, Ontario and in 1997, Tim Hortons was employing 25,000 people across the country.
The Tim Hortons stores are named after their founder, Miles Gilbert “Tim” Horton, a hockey player who was born on January 12, 1930 in Cochrane. Horton began his hockey career in Quebec. He eventually played for the Toronto Maple Leafs (beginning in 1952), the New York Rangers (1970), the Pittsburgh Penguins (1971) and then for the Buffalo Sabres (1972).
Initially, Tim Horton was involved in a string of hamburger restaurants with his partner Jim Charade, while he was still playing hockey. These restaurants were not very successful ventures, so Mr. Horton explored the idea of a doughnut and coffee store. He opened his first Tim Hortons store in 1964 in Hamilton, Ontario. The Tim Hortons store served coffee and doughnuts exclusively. Eventually, Tim Horton’s own personal creations, such as the apple fritter and the dutchie, were featured at the store. These became the chain’s most popular doughnut choices in the 1960’s and have remained popular ever since.
Ron Joyce, a former Hamilton police constable,
aw that Tim Horton was looking for help in running his store through an ad in the newspaper. Joyce proceeded to take out a $10,000 loan from the credit union which he then invested in the store. At that time, the store was known as “Tim Horton.” Later the name was changed to “Tim Horton’s” and then later still to “Tim Hortons,” with no apostrophe.
In 1965, Ron Joyce took over the original Tim Hortons store with future aspirations of expanding the store to include ten outlets. At this time, a quarter could buy a cup of coffee and a doughnut. A dozen doughnuts cost 89 cents. Slowly, more Tim Hortons stores started springing up and business was fairly successful.
Tim Horton was killed in an untimely car crash on February 21, 1974 while traveling back to Buffalo after playing a Sabres game in Toronto. He was driving home in his expensive Pantera sports car, maintaining speeds of 160 km/h (100 mph) on the QEW near St. Catharines, when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed.
Not long after Horton’s death, Joyce offered Lori Horton (Tim’s widow) $1 million for her shares in the chain, which included forty stores by that time. Once she accepted his offer, Joyce became the sole owner. Years later, Mrs. Horton decided that the deal between her and Joyce was not fair and took the matter to court. Mrs. Horton lost the lawsuit in 1993, and was declined for appeal in 1995.
Nevertheless, the business continued to grow and become more innovative. In 1976, Tim Hortons introduced the Timbit, which has since enjoyed much success. Despite what many people believe, a Timbit is not a doughnut hole.
In 1977, a $100,000 Tim Hortons building at Main and Wentworth Streets in Hamilton was built and dubbed the “Doughnut University,” because it was used as a teaching facility. Trainees would be taught how to bake around the clock and provide continual freshness to customers. By this time, the company was approaching $20-million in sales. In 1978, Tim Donut Ltd. opened it’s 100th store in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
With his business on the rise, Ron Joyce developed an interesting way to pick out new sites for Tim Hortons stores. Mr. Joyce would pilot the company’s twin-engined aircraft around the country in search of just the right spot for a store. Any sites which he thought looked interesting would be further investigated, and if it was feasible, then a Tim Hortons would be built there.
Over the years, Tim Hortons has tried a number of new products, in an attempt to diversify the business. These have included such foods as clam chowder, chili, muffins, pies, croissants, cookies, cinnamon buns, bagels, soups, sandwiches and even macaroons.
At one time, plans were being considered to open Tim Hortons ice cream stores. This idea was abandoned when it became apparent that the ice cream business was seasonal and might not not be a successful venture. One similar plan which did go through was Tim Horton’s Break Away, which was a soup and sandwich chain. Break Away was a failure, and although nine of those stores were opened, the experiment was eventually abandoned.
However, Tim Hortons did come up with a number of exciting promotions. One of these promotions is the “Roll Up The Rim” cups that have come out annually since the mid-eighties. These cups have special rims that, when rolled up, have messages printed on the inside which indicate if someone is a winner or not. Prizes include food products, bicycles, coffee makers and cars.
On March 3, 1983, Tim Hortons took a somewhat controversial move and opened Canada’s first non-smoking Tim Hortons store. This store was located at the intersection of Main and Wellington in Hamilton. Not long after this, the second non-smoking store opened in Kitchener. The idea behind having non-smoking Tim Hortons stores was that people who did not smoke would still be able to enjoy Tim Hortons’ coffee and food without being surrounded by tobacco smoke. The ideology was that smokers would not have much reason to complain, as another Tim Hortons where smoking was allowed was probably not more than a few blocks away. When the first non-smoking store did open, people refused to obey their policy and police had to be called in a few times to evict smokers.
Business for Ron Joyce and his company continued to do quite well right into the 1980s. The 200th store was opened in 1984 in Clappison’s Corners and on November 25, 1985, the first Tim Hortons drive-thru was opened on Upper Gage and Fennell in Hamilton. By 1985, Tim Hortons was spending close to $100,000 on research and development and about $2.8 million on advertising. In 1987, store number 300 was opened in Calgary, followed closely by number 400 in 1989, in Halifax. By 1991, the 500th store was opened in Aylmer, Quebec.
One day, Ron Joyce met Dave Thomas on a golf course. Thomas, the American founder of the Wendy’s hamburger chain, owned a house next to Joyce’s, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the pair immediately hit it off as good friends. In 1992, the two men began co-operating on the business front. They established a number of combination Wendy’s/Tim Hortons stores in Canada, a total of 13 by 1995.
After serious consideration by both men and their company boards, a merger was announced between Wendy’s and Tim Hortons in 1995. This was a $425-million U.S. deal that left Ron Joyce the biggest shareholder of the third-largest hamburger chain in the United States. It also made Tim Hortons a division of the U.S.-based Wendy’s chain. The merger left Tim Hortons a wholly owned subsidiary of Wendy’s, although the two do retain separate management. As part of the deal, Tim Donut Ltd. was given 13.5% of Wendy’s stock, worth about $300 million U.S., and Wendy’s assumed $125 million U.S. of Tim Hortons’ debt. In the end, the total deal was worth about $580 million Canadian.
Although Tim Hortons had operated in nearby Buffalo since the 1970’s, Joyce, considered the Wendy’s/Tim Hortons merger a great way to expand into the U.S. market, under the merger, forty stores were opened in Detroit and another forty in the Columbus, Ohio area. He also began expanding the store by introducing some non-traditional storefronts, such as carts, drive-through-only locations, and small outlets in universities, sports arenas, the CN Tower, and duty-free stores at the U.S.-Canadian border.
Although Tim Hortons has had a dramatic expansion, and has grown considerably as a business since the early days of the 1960s, Ron Joyce and his company have done their best to see to it that some of the early traditions are adhered to and the old store standards are kept high. A plaque hangs on the wall of the first Tim Hortons store, reading: “Built on hard work and dreams, the Tim Horton chain takes pride in its history…”
Training for Tim Hortons employees is intensive in order to maintain a high level of customer service. This is especially true for someone who wishes to open a new store. They must attend training sessions at the company headquarters in Oakville for fifteen days straight where they are taught how to make doughnuts and how to manage a Tim Hortons store successfully.
In 1995, the company decided that each store should have a poster of Tim Horton by Ken Danby. However, Tim Horton’s widow demanded the removal of the posters. A letter from Mrs. Horton’s lawyer in 1995 eventually led to the posters being taken down, despite the fact that the company had no real legal obligations to do so.
Several years ago, Ron Joyce established the Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation. This is a non-profit, charitable organization, that allows thousands of children from less-well-off homes to attend a first-class summer camp for a few weeks of the year. Local Tim Hortons store owners keep in touch with community churches, schools, clubs and local agencies such as Big Brothers and Sisters, to select children aged seven to eleven, who might not otherwise have a chance to experience the fun of a summer camp outside of their immediate province or region. The Foundation covers all of the costs for each child, including food, lodging, transportation and the facilities at the camps.
Ron Joyce was named to the Order of Canada in 1992 for his work with the Children’s Foundation. In 1996, he also received a lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Franchise Association for his pioneering spirit and inspirational leadership.
Ron Joyce is not stopping the corporation’s expansion. By the year 2000, he hopes to have 2,000 Tim Hortons outlets across Canada. As of April, 1997, there were already 1,500, and since the company was able to accomplish its earlier goal of having 1,000 stores by 1995 (the 1,000th store was opened in Ancaster, Ontario), there is a very good chance that they will succeed once again.
Baking twice every 24 hours, the 1,500 stores go through an average of 200 pounds of dough everyday. Their sales totaled $646-million in 1996. In 1997, there were 70 stores in Hamilton-Wentworth area alone. This works out to one store for every 7,081 people, which confirms the statements that Hamilton truly is the capital of coffee and doughnut stores