Joe Cardillo considers himself “the luckiest man in Vector” because of all of the amazing connections that he has developed through his work experiences. He was born in Canada, but started with Vector/Cutco while in college in Michigan. He became a part of the Canadian start-up team for Cutco, then developed into the long-time head of the company’s Canadian operations, now General Manager. He is widely-known as one of the all-time greatest leaders in the company’s history. He and his wife Jennifer have four children, and they live in the Toronto area.


Q: You started with Cutco/ Vector in 1988 but you didn’t start in Canada, did you? Tell us a little about that.

  • I was going to school in Grand Rapids, MI and saw a poster in my college. I sold that summer then became an Assistant Manager the following year.

Q: And you got to run a Branch Office in Canada the very first year Vector/ Cutco was in Canada. How did that happen?

  • I was a duel citizen, US and Canadian, born in Toronto and moved to Michigan when I was 13. After I started working with Vector/Cutco I heard they were expanding into Canada and I thought, “if this Cutco stuff sells in the US, it’s going to sell in Canada.”
  • When they were looking for people to help expand into Canada and they found out I was a Canadian citizen and they wouldn’t have to do all the paperwork, I got the call.

Q: So you had a great summer and then in the fall you went back to school. What was the thinking there? Weren’t you thinking about sticking around?

  • I wanted to stay open and not finish school because I felt like college was all about being able to get a job and I already had a good job so I figured I didn’t need to go back.
  • But when I asked my manager if I could just keep my office open he basically told me that wasn’t an option and I only had one year left of school and I just needed to finish my last year and when I came back there’d be a good opportunity waiting for me.
  • And that’s a big lesson I learned that year. In Vector/Cutco we can be patient for people and help them do the right thing even if in the short term it may not be the best thing for the business.
  • Do the best thing for your people and it always works out pretty good.

Q: Tell us about overcoming some of the adversity you encountered in 1993.

  • Well, some things were more challenging than I thought they would be with moving out to western Canada with regards to advertising. Also, that year we got rid of receptionists and experimented with a machine with a recording and there were some challenges with that. I was also getting used to married life and my wife was getting used to living in a new country and all that came with that. So there were a lot of challenges and our sales were reflected in that.
  • But that year we also brought some of the best people into our organization and I learned that developing people is not always correlated with high sales or high performance. And sometimes you can get high performance but not always are those people you can build with.

Q: You went to school to be a teacher. What are some areas that have overlapped and are some aspects of teaching that have been fulfilled in Cutco/Vector?

  • In high school I was lucky and had a lot of great teachers and coaches and I thought that could be an area I could make a big difference as well.
  • One summer I had a rep work for me who was a teacher and sold Cutco during his breaks and he told me that he only had a chance to impact his students for a semester but he saw that I had an opportunity to impact people for a lifetime and I really took that to heart.

Q: So you’re having a great time in Cutco/Vector, you decide to go get your MBA.  That’s not common in general in Direct Sales and not a lot of us in Cutco that have an MBA. Why the MBA?

  • It’s great if you’re into personal growth but it’s even better if you’re around a bunch of people who are pushing you to grow it’s better.
  • My biggest take away from my MBA was how lucky I was. I was surrounded by people doing all sorts of common executive jobs and being poised to run companies but were all angry. I realized that I was happy and I enjoyed what I was doing even if it was the road less traveled.

Q: You started a charity. Tell us a little about Basket Brigade.

  • No matter what city you live in, there’s poverty. We help serve families meals and deliver baskets of thing to people in need. We’re not solving poverty but like Steve Jobs said, sometimes you just want to put a dent in something meaningful.
  • It started with just a handful of people in our office and now we have hockey teams helping out, people outside.
  • People want to be a part of something positive, that’s growing, that’s making a difference and we found a charity that resonates with a lot of people. Most people want to do good, but they don’t know how to do good.

Q: As you look forward, what are you most excited about?

  • I’m excited to grow the business and grow people.
  • I’m excited to grow my family too!


  • Branch Office/ Manager- a Vector/ Cutco manager, often a college student, who runs a sales office during the summer months.
  • District Manager- a Cutco/ Vector office/ manager that runs a year-round office full time.
Show Notes provided by Carlo Cipollina

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