The story of Tim Hortons starts with a great cover: embossed gold lettering above a giant, luscious-looking donut. Ron Joyce, who made Tim Hortons into a Canadian icon, speaks in the first person. Although Robert Thompson helped to write the book, the style is folksy and loquacious, often saying the same thing in different ways.
After a brief prologue set in 1995, Joyce gives us a portrait of a Nova Scotia village in 1930, when he was born. The hardscrabble poverty of the Depression years comes to life, as does Joyce's love of his mother, who managed to raise three children under those conditions.
Joyce dropped out of school after Grade 9 and worked at several careers, always trying to better himself financially. A turning point came when he bought the franchise for a rundown donut store called Tim Horton's (with apostrophe) from the smooth-talking, aptly named Jim Charade.
Joyce turned this money-losing proposition into a Canadian empire worth billions. The details are fascinating. We see a gifted, driven entrepreneur determined to overcome all obstacles. (Joyce admits that his two divorces were partly caused by his workaholic ways.) We meet Tim Horton and other colourful characters connected with the Leafs. The book is worth reading for anyone considering any type of franchise, for its behind-the-scenes look at the business.
"Always fresh" is told very much from Ron Joyce's personal perspective. Although Joyce is polite and does not seem vindictive, other parties might give different accounts of the lawsuits launched by Tim Horton's widow, or Joyce's dealings with Wendy's corporation. The book takes us to the great Tim Hortons "baked from frozen" donut controversy and beyond. Although Ron Joyce was the driving force behind the rise of Tim Hortons, he generously acknowledges the help of many others.
Try this one over a double-double.