|They Work Together|
"Jack Donald, Joan Donald"
Jack and Joan Donald, through Parkland Industries own 141 gas stations in three Provinces, and an oil refinery near Red Deer, Alberta. They are millionaires living on a ranch outside of Red Deer, where they could live the lives of the rich and famous. But, in fact there is nothing pretentious about them. They're as down-to-earth as you can get.
Only a formal affair, like a shareholder's meeting will get Jack into a suit and tie. Most days he's comfortable in an open-necked shirt, casual pants and cowboy boots.
Born in Edmonton, Jack got his first feel for the gas business as a youngster pumping the stuff at a local station.
"I've tried other things from time to time, but I like the gas industry. It's a people business. I enjoy going to work every day. It's a real challenge."
Running the 1Oth largest integrated oil company in Canada and being involved in many community ventures, how does he manage to keep everything under control?
"In my office you will see a row of briefcases, each representing a company in which I'm involved. At a moment's notice I can pick up a briefcase and be ready to go. It's organization and having a wife leading and pushing me in the right direction, and on time, is what's important in our operation. "
Leading and pushing, Joan Donald is very much involved in their "Fas Gas", "Bi-Le" and "Gasex" stations located mostly in small towns in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. She is Assistant Corporate Secretary of Parkland Industries, the Red Deer based company whose gross earnings were projected to be $175 million in 1991.
That's a far cry from 26 years ago when the Donalds bought their first Texaco outlet in Red Deer for $5,000. Joan was right in from the beginning:
"I was kind of thrown into it. I didn't have the background that Jack did. He went off to get his mechanic's license at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and I was left to run the station. So I learned very quickly."
Working together is important:
"We work well together. We each have our strengths and weaknesses. When one has a workload that is almost impossible, the other one will come in and pick up the pieces. We do this back and forth. We enjoy life and every day is fun. "
Joan somehow found time to have two children and the Donalds now have five grandchildren. But being grandparents hasn't slowed them down a bit.
Parkland Industries directly employed 132 people in 1990 and approximately 850 more employed through the service station chain. Its assets include a former Shell Oil refinery; oil production of 575 barrels a day, a fleet of 19 trucks, a service station supply company and many other affiliated firms serving the petroleum industry.
Despite some inconveniences, the Donalds had no plans to move from Red Deer. Jack, a former alderman, was Chairman in 1990 of Alberta Opportunity Company whose object is to finance qualified small businesses on behalf of the Province of Alberta. Jack is Director and Chairman of the Board of the Canadian Western Bank and has been on the Board of Red Deer College and many other community organizations.
Joan is equally busy on the home scene: she is a Director of the Red Deer Westerner Exposition Association, a member of the College Board and an avid supporter of equestrian events. Yet the couple manages to spend time together on and off the job. It means sharing and trusting.
"It helps when you work together. Joan knows what I do for a living and she doesn't get upset if I'm late for supper, or if I don't get home for supper at all. She's a very intense person and when she worries about some activity she's involved in, I understand what she's going through as well. We've learned to live through the crises together and I feel it has strengthened our marriage.
“When I asked them what advice they have for young people going into business for the first time they replied:
JOAN:" I would say they should have a well-thought-out plan and know the business they're going into. Work in that particular field prior to entering the market."
JACK: In every instance, the rules of good business apply. You seek out an opportunity and analyze it. My Dad told me you'll never go broke making a profit, just as long as you are not too greedy in the process. I'm afirm believer that there are many opportunities for young people in business today, different kinds of opportunities than there were 26 years ago. Canada is a young country and it's growing. It requires people to find out what its needs are, then go out and fill those needs."
Despite all their success Jack still keeps his mechanic's license up-to date, "Just in case", and meantime the Donald's homespun style has filtered down to the firm's executives who all drive pickup trucks so they can deliver a load of motor oil if necessary. Although he owns a Mercedes, Jack usually travels to work in a pickup truck himself.
Parkland Industries is booming in a world of oil adventure. The Company expects to add many more outlets, perhaps as many as 10 a year. Recently they acquired the Western Canadian right for the U.S. convenience chain AM/PM. And it all began with one leased station and the belief that hard work and working together can be fun. Jack and Joan Donald-Canadian Achievers.
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