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“He is setting a longevity recordĒ

Ian Wilson of Wilson Fuels Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia is disproving the business theory that it is usually three generations from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves. According to the theory, the company founder rolls up his shirtsleeves to get the company going, the next generation comes in and keeps the momentum going, while the third generation usually coasts along on the merits of the two preceding generations, while the company goes out of business, forcing the third generation back into the labour market working with its shirtsleeves rolled up. Sometimes it takes longer than three generations. Recent examples of Canadian families losing control are Eatonís Department Stores and Henry Birks and Sons, the jewelry company.

Ian Wilson is the eighth generation of his familyís business, which goes back to the 1800s. No one is quite sure when the company was founded, but they do have records showing their involvement in the rebuilding of Halifax following the explosion of 1914. They were in the construction business before then.

Today they are Atlantic Canadaís largest independent marketer of petroleum products, employing up to 500 people during their peak season.

When you ask Ian what he feels is the reason for their success and longevity he says quite simply, "Dick, we havenít the recipe for longevity. Over the years our company morphed from lumber and construction materials to the petroleum industry, always keeping abreast of the times. We have always maintained a close relationship with our customers and employees."

Ianís assessment of their success was confirmed when I asked Gord Hankin, owner of Hankinís Fuels in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia to comment on Ianís company. Gord said, "Wilsonís is a very well-run organization. Dick, You donít last as long as they have, or grow to their size unless you are a solid company."

Earlier this year, 36-year-old Ian Wilson was selected and honoured as one of Canadaís Top 40 under 40 business leaders.

He is another Canadian Achiever. Read more about Ian Wilson at

Next week read the story of the person behind the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Gail Asper.
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