Burnaby franchise featured in Undercover Boss Canada
Leigh Adler has watched episodes of the American version of Undercover Boss and often wondered how participants wouldn't notice senior executives working alongside them sometimes in the most menial of jobs.
He found out firsthand it's because the show's producers are very good at keeping secrets.
Adler is owner of the Burnaby franchise for 1-888-WOW-1DAY! Painting, a company that paints most homes and other sites in one day with the help of fast-drying paints and higher-than-usual numbers of painting staff.
He was contacted last fall by a production company that said they were filming a documentary about someone who had been laid off and wanted to re-enter the workforce. Adler agreed to allow Hugo, the subject, to go on a job site with his general manager for job training.
Little did he know that "Hugo" was actually a disguised Brian Scudamore, CEO of the painting company and its better-known sister company 1-800-GOT-JUNK? with which he also spent time incognito for Undercover Boss Canada.
Adler said he's worked with Scudamore for some time, having bought his painting franchise after working for years at the junk removal company.
In hindsight, it probably wasn't a surprise that he never actually met Hugo.
"I never saw any photos of Hugo, I never even met him, probably deliberately," he said with a laugh. "They kept it an absolute secret."
Charged with showing Hugo the ropes was the franchise's general manager, Daryl Spenst, who had only met Scudamore once briefly.
"He didn't pick up on it at all," Adler said. "He joked around that [Hugo] really struggled with the paintbrush ... He did make a joke that Hugo really didn't like the shopvac and there were some other little slipups but nothing too big."
A few weeks later, Spenst was called to critique Hugo for the show, which is when he learned the truth and met Scudamore back in his role as CEO.
"He was shocked," Adler said laughing. "He rang me up and he's like, 'Do you know who that was?'"
Scudamore gave Spenst season tickets to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in recognition of his love for music. "That was like a fantastic gift for him."
Through watching the episode Adler saw Scudamore learn more about his relatively new painting company and about its efforts towards customer service, including running the office from the manager's car so job estimates can be provided within minutes of viewing a site. Some of the customer service aspects Scudamore indicated he wanted to incorporate into 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
"It was definitely weird because you're seeing your franchise work and in the back of your mind you're thinking, 'I hope they're not doing anything wrong,'" Adler said laughing.
He added with a laugh that during the stint with his painting franchise, Scudamore actually personally knew the client whose house he was helping paint. "He had to hide in a corner, luckily his cover wasn't blown."
• Undercover Boss Canada airs on the W Network. The 1-800-GOT-JUNK? episode airs until Feb. 27. For future air dates visit http://tinyurl.com/7rb3nys.