Innovation Starts Here: Russell brothers put the bro in RBRO solutions

Photo by Josh Nelson

Howard Russell co-CEO and co-creator of RBRO solutions, typing at his desk.

innovation 2Bringing productivity solutions to the market was the goal for two brothers who knew there could be a better way in their work force.

RBRO Solutions was the result of determination and innovation of two brothers with the same goal in mind. RBRO Solutions is what Howard Russell and his brother, John, believed would fill the gaps between the iManage Work document management system (DMS) and the needs of law firms and other corporations that use the DMS. Their innovative company can be found in Pickering, which is in Durham Region.


Howard Russell explains how RBRO Solutions came to life.



Howard Russell speaks about what RBRO Solutions does today and how they help their clients.

Howard Russell is currently both the CEO and President of RBRO Solutions. While John has taken on more of an advisory role, Howard now leads the company.
Howard currently lives in Pickering, where RBRO Solutions can also be found within a large apartment complex, this houses other small and upcoming businesses. Pickering is a hotbed for innovation, with many plans to change their downtown to accommodate more people and more jobs.

“At RBRO, our goal when we first started was to bring productivity solutions to the market,”

-Howard Russel

Productivity solutions are solutions to difficult tasks which an upcoming business whether this be an app that may help a employee stay focused or a file to make a certain task easier. RBRO Solutions is an organization dedicated to helping their clients figure out how to do things better within their company and help them with their ideas for the future. “But today, we look at ourselves more as an organization that is helping our client organization and people that we work with to get better value out of their content,” said Howard.



Howard Russel explains where the idea of the software came from.

Before starting RBRO Solutions with his brother, Howard worked at a law firm called Gowling WLG Canada as a Senior Developer Analyst between 1997 and 2000. It was there they realized that iManage Work DMS was not doing the job that it was intended to do.

“RBRO came to life based upon my brother and I had, that’s John Russell, realizing that we had something unique that we could do in the marketplace, and that we couldn’t do it where we were at the time,” says Howard. “So, we decided on a Friday afternoon that we were going to start RBRO Solutions, and on Monday morning RBRO solutions was born.”
It was then that the Russell brothers began RBRO Solutions in John’s basement. Russell said that they went to a computer shop and bought two servers to begin their journey.
Howard said that he knew the business would be a success because they made the opportunities that were placed in front of them work.

“I guess from a faith perspective, I always believe that things are going to work out.” Howard stated that the biggest challenge for them was dealing with critical content for the clients that they work with. “The clients that we work with consider their systems to be extremely important in their daily business and not having access to those systems means thousands and thousands of dollars in lost time every hour.” However, the first challenge for them was simply that they were just two guys in a basement.



Howard Russel discusses the challenges that was faced when started RBRO Solutions.
It has now been thirteen years since RBRO Solutions was first founded, and RBRO has taken off. According to their website, since it began RBRO has brought in top ten global law firms, large corporations and professional service firms as clients. RBRO also employs over 40 people, and has 17 global channel partners. It even has locations in the United Kingdom and Australia, both large players in the global market.



Howard Russel explains the steps that him and his brother needed to take to get RBRO running smoothly.


One of the first calls the Russell brothers received was actually from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). “When they called, I picked up the phone. I basically pretended John was in another office somewhere else and I needed to go find him. He was sitting about ten feet away from me … Of course when CBC first came to visit us, and they walked down into the basement, they realized it was just two of us. But ya know what? We did a great job for them.”

What they did for CBC was create a website for the Cambodia national election. Despite a lot of sleepless nights, things went well for the Russell brothers.

When they asked why the law firms they started with chose them, they were given a simple answer: “You guys needed a chance. You clearly knew what you were talking about in terms of the solutions that you were looking to bring and how you would help us. And you were passionate and you really cared, and we could tell that you were going to care about the customer.”


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Dean Daley is a second year student journalism student at Durham College. He is also a digital editor for The Chronicle. He enjoys writing about campus, community, technology news and video games news. His hobbies include writing creative short stories and poetry, reading, playing video games and learning about the newest mobile technology.