Thursday, March 17, 2016

TODAY... WE REMEMBER BLAIR

It's a given that most people think of today as St. Patricks Day. I suppose until 2011, I did too. It just so happens that 5 years ago today, one of the great ones answered their call and as a result my friend Blair McLaren passed away.

I know that name won’t specifically resonate with the majority of my readers but trust me when I write that he was a very well respected businessman. Though not where his career would end, when I was growing up, he and his wife owned the local sporting goods store affectionately known as McLaren Sports.

Myself & Blairs' daughter Sarah.
TAKEN: APRIL 1983
If I close my eyes, I can remember the day I sat in their store and he outlined my feet for a custom made pair of John Kenbli skates. I was so excited I was floating, and of course my mother was being my mother.

Though I remember the ordeal as embarrassing, I distinctly remember their conversation. He explained the manufacturing process & lead time, then they talked of why the price was the price. As he answered all of her questions, in an nano-second he earned her complete and unconditional trust. He promised never to disclose to my father the money she’d spent in his store on my fateful day; he never did. 

Over time, teaching their daughters to skate, led me to babysitting for him and his wife. I also remember it was the end of an era when they closed the store to focus on building a corporate family business ~ aptly named McLaren Press. What his wife and girls don't know is that 20 years later, when I opened IDP Muskoka in 2004, Blair and his brother Scott were one of my very first calls. After all, every new marketing agency with a solid business plan, needs a great trade printer.

I remember the meeting. It started with Scott (who lived across the street at the time) then he called in Blair. Much to my surprise, the two of them made me an offer to join their team 24 hours later. Though I declined, Blair always remembered the fire in my belly and my overall vision; he truly supported the concept of women leading in business.

Even with life being as busy as it was, no matter when I ran into him, he never hesitated to stop and ask me how I was doing. Never rushed nor forced. He was always genuine and very happy for me.

Funny thing is...? All these years later I still have those skates. Matter a fact I cherish them. Always have. Always will. So, tonight, I ask you to raise your green beer, glass of wine, or a glass of water to Blair.

Loving husband, wonderful father, grandfather, employer, friend. He may be gone but most definitely will never be forgotten.

Cheers, Blair...Thanks for the memories.