Interviewing Brice Guerin at a coffee shop means several interruptions as he greets people he knows. The CEO of THOT Bookkeeping and Tax Services learned quickly that to be successful in business here, you need an effective network. “In Nova Scotia trust is what it’s all about. It’s about who you know.” Brice left his home in the suburbs of Paris, France, in 1989 to study in Canada. “My intention was to stay here. I needed a change and knew that North America offered opportunities to be what I wanted to be.” He was determined to become his own boss. “I’m too stubborn to work for anyone,” he admits. After only a few years here, he established THOT, a company with a staff of seven that also provides social media and business solutions. “Challenges are challenges only because you think they are. I turned my age and background to an advantage.”
Everything Brice did here was for the first time – shopping, laundry, living alone. “Initially it’s exciting and new. You’re on a high.” He studied English for six months intending to enroll in university but was told his marks from France were too low. Intervention from the French Consul in Moncton, who explained that his French high school grades were equivalent to first-year university here, opened the door. Brice completed the Commerce program at Saint Mary’s University with a major in marketing and human resource management. To make friends he started a karate club and became the instructor. “You have to be extraordinary, better than the rest. I didn’t come here to be average.”
He then worked in finance. At 25 Brice became a financial advisor and within a year was in the top 50 nationally. As THOT CEO, he hosts two monthly networking events for 50 to 100 people to help small businesses connect and grow. Brice has been on the board of Downtown Dartmouth Development Corporation and Main Street Dartmouth Business Improvement District. He has also volunteered with two francophone organizations: Club Richelieu for youth, and Conseil Communautaire du Grand Havre.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from; stories are similar about what immigrants miss and what they don’t. People sometimes think immigrants are complaining, but they’re comparing things to something they know.” Brice could complain about the price of wine and cheese, and the quality of bread and pastries compared to France, but he prefers to focus on the positive, such as a lower cost of living and less bureaucracy. “I feel more Canadian than French; I’ve spent more than half my life here.” He takes his children – 16 and 13 – to France every year. “The kids are in between, but there’s nothing wrong with that.” Together the family enjoys hiking and the outdoors. “Nothing beats Nova Scotia in the fall, getting lost in your thoughts in the middle of nowhere. There’s beauty in every corner.” Brice enjoys life and continues to work hard, declaring that the day he pays a million dollars in taxes, he will reach his goal.