Class of 1996
J.A. (Jimmy) Pattison, founder of The Jim Pattison Group, a multinational firm and one of Canada’s largest privately owned companies.
Born in Saskatchewan in 1928, Jimmy moved to British Columbia where at age 7, he began his sales career selling seeds door to door. Later, he focused his attention on selling pots, newspapers and used cars. Jimmy learned early on how to turn a money loser into a profit and with this in mind he borrowed $40,000 to open a small General Motors franchise in 1961.
An energetic but tough negotiator, Jimmy climbed above modest roots and several business misfortunes into the global arena. Known as the “Canadian take over artist,” Jimmy constantly added to his growing empire. His privately owned business portfolio ranges from food outlets to manufacturing, car dealerships to outdoor signs and Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museums.
Describing himself as a “glorified used car salesman,” Jimmy has amassed, at a phenomenal pace, more than 50 companies with sales in the billions and with over 17,000 employees. Driven by a remarkable enthusiasm for business, his no-salary management of B.C.’s Expo ’86 was an international success.
A regular, somewhat private man, Jimmy enjoys weekly visits to his favourite fast food restaurant, and wears three watches to monitor global time zones. Pattison credits his success to his parents’ example and his early sales experience, stating, “sales is great training because it teaches you to deal with disappointment and mistakes.”