The Pattison Show

I wrote this originally on March 14th, behind stage at the Pattison Conference this year. I just found it as a text file while cleaning up my PC desktop.


I am writing this from behind stage on what will likely be my last time here at the Frank Sinatra compound as a Staging guy at the Jim Pattison Partners in Pride Executive Conference.

This is a very bittersweet time for me. This is my 10th year on this show, and I really like working with the crew, and the delegates of the conference.

Including myself, 3 of the 6 crew here in 2008 were there in 1999 on my first show. Several others have come and gone in that time, and I have made great friendships and contacts with many of these folks.

And, it’s not everyday a guy like me gets to rub shoulders with the presidents and executives of companies like Ripley Entertainment and the Overwaitea Food Group. I’m now on a first name basis with Jim Pattison, the owner of this conglomerate which is now the 3rd Largest Private company in Canada, and his executive assistant of 45 years, Maureen Chant.

Every even year, like this one, the conference is a little smaller, and is held in a tent on the tennis court at the former estate of Frank Sinatra, which Jimmy acquired in 1995. It’s always a bit of a surreal experience, and this year is no exception.

Jimmy likes to have personal contact with us. He’s come backstage and to our lunch table and regaled us with tales of hosting Oprah Winfrey and Steadman on his yacht, and what the corporate culture is like at Wal-Mart. Apparently, they have over a dozen jets, but as part of their lowest-price cost cutting creedo, executives pack their own brown bag lunches when they fly on them, and their are signs in the hallways of their offices that warn potential suppliers that if any offers of perks in the form of gifts or entertainment tickets will result in the termination of their accounts. “They practise what they preach” said Jimmy, “They are in the news a lot, but they are good, good people”.

He was pretty excited about his magazine distribution company, The News Group, into Wal-Mart’s stores. They have been working on this for the last 10 years. The News Group’s calls weren’t returned for the first 5 years, and for the second 5, the calls were returned but they always declined. When they got the job, Jimmy told us there were three reasons they got the business. Persistence was first, and the deal they offered was second. The third thing they said was that the News Group’s behaviour was always professional. Jimmy remarked that in that 10 years, they did not once disparage their competitors, but instead just focussed on their strengths.

This gig has been a part of my life for so long that this year, I got to enjoy February in a whole new way. I wasn’t very involved in production of the show like I usually have been. I really only contributed about 18 seconds to the 15 minute show, of which 12 seconds made it in. I worked 40 hour weeks, meeting my other client’s needs, not th 60 or 70 hour weeks exclusively on this show like I have the past. I even had time to take a woodworking course over the 6 weeks before the show. That was pleasant, but it felt a little strange. February is normally a dark month with less daylight in this part of the world, but I actually got to see the sun occaisionaly for the first February in a while.

So I am sitting backstage right now, passing time while Jimmy’s latest acquistion, Guinness World Records, is giving their presentation. Tomorrow I’ll do the awards show like I usually do, then I’ll fly home on Sunday on Jimmy’s private jet After a few days of recovery, I’ll start to work on the several web related projects I have lined up for the last week of this month, and start packing to move in to our new home at the end of this month.

The move and the decision to stop travelling mark a commitment to a big change in my life. I think it’s positive – we want to start a family and I don’t want to be out of town for that, and we want to be in Victoria, and we like it here. That said, any change to something new involves some separation from what there was before, and there are many things about the Pattison Show and life in Vancouver that were really great, and I am going to miss dearly.

I never thought I would have said this a few years ago, but the Pattison Show is very much one of them.

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