Franchise Philanthropy November/December 2022 Previous Issues

Giving Back: Sweet Relief

Booster Juice’s Dale Wishewan takes giving back into his own hands, sometimes quite literally

By Daniel McIntosh

Dale Wishewan speaks of Booster Juice’s early charity contributions like a far-off memory. As the brand grew in relevance through the early 2000s, contributions to their communities were felt through appearances at charity runs. “I’ve tried to foster that from the top down,” Wishewan says. “Whether the store’s in Stratford, Ontario or Quesnel, B.C., that’s what we want them to know, to be involved in your community and giving back is one of the best things we can do.”

It’s a sentiment that’s been easier to prove as Booster Juice has grown into a national brand during Wishewan’s tenure as CEO. Over that time, Booster Juice’s charitable efforts have expanded into supporting service animal programs, like Dogs with Wings, and pediatrics, with heavy involvement in Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Easter Seals Ontario, providing advocacy for children with disabilities. “We’ve always felt it’s unfortunate when kids have an illness,” says Wishewan. “I think, as an adult, if it happens to us, we can navigate it easier. So, we’ve done quite a bit in the way of pediatrics over the years.”

Booster Juice’s philanthropy recently took on a topical focus, following the outbreak of conflict in Ukraine. Stores across the country mobilized to raise money after the news broke in late February. “That’s the benefit of having as many stores as we do with in-store marketing screens with our messaging in support of Ukraine.” Wishewan says that even if individual stores bring in a small amount, having 400 locations provides a better opportunity to have a meaningful collective impact.

The contributions took on an even more personal focus, as Wishewan went to the Ukrainian border to assist in the relief efforts. “We’ve done a ton of support on a financial basis,” says Wishewan, “but I felt it was important to be boots on the ground, to do more than just the financial support.”

So, he and his eldest daughter found themselves in a converted shopping mall near the Ukrainian border in Medyka, Poland, sweeping and mopping, assisting in trash pickup, and helping refugees get to transport buses that would take them to their temporary accommodations. The actions rippled through his family, as well. His children went back to assist in the efforts, with his daughter even moving a Ukrainian family into her home. “I’m proud of seeing that I’ve instilled some qualities in our kids to want to do something, which is nice,” says Wishewan.

Like his involvement in Ukraine, Wishewan always encourages franchise partners to support initiatives that are near and dear to them in their local communities. During COVID-19 crisis points, when hospitals and elder care centres were overwhelmed, franchise partners provided smoothies for first responders and care workers, supplying a dose of relief when they needed it the most.

Wishewan says it’s all a part of the bonding between Booster Juice and its communities. “You can’t fake your way in food service for 23 years without customers understanding that there’s a genuine interest in customers and in doing the right things.” For Wishewan, that community takes the form of personal connections with his staff and between them and their customers. He sees it firsthand through the excitement of customers whenever Booster Juice opens locations in smaller markets. Of the benefits, he says “it’s the brand, it’s the product, and it’s a great spot to work for staff. We’ve created jobs for people. That sense of doing this together is what community is.”

As the brand becomes increasingly well-known, even expanding into the U.S. and Mexico, Wishewan intends to ramp up his charitable efforts, as well. Moreover, charities that have developed a consistent relationship with Booster Juice depend on the revenue coming from fundraising.

And as always, he’s scouring for different causes that need aid and attention, namely mental health. Although Wishewan describes himself as a happy guy, “it doesn’t mean that stress and anxiety aren’t there for individuals. I know we want to continue to support the mental health component of [charity] and provide continued support for all the charities we’ve worked with over the past years.”