2012 Industry Builder Hall of Fame Inductee
Michael Lecour, Executive Vice President Canada, GES
Introduction Speech by John Houghton:
Good evening Ladies, Gentlemen, Guests and Honorees,
I am here tonight on behalf of Steve Nichols, the primary nominator for tonight’s winner of the Hall of Fame, Industry Builder Award. Steve is unable to be in here in person because he has just undergone some elective surgery. Apparently the procedures were successful in addition now being ¾ of inch taller, don’t be surprised the next time you see Steve there are fewer wrinkles around his eyes, fewer lines on his forehead, fuller lips and a flatter stomach.
One of the first things I did when approached to heap platitudes on one of the our “Industry Titans”, was to call Steve, a man that is never lost for words and ask what he wanted me to say during the announcement of the honoree.
Steve replied; don’t spend too much time on this; he has been in the industry for 40 years. I think he is one of the only guys left in the business that is older than me so he is going to forget most of what you are going to say within 3 hours of your saying it.
I responded by saying; “Steve, you won a similar award previously, why?”
He quickly replied saying, “Mary would tell you it is my muscular physique, ruggedly handsome appearance and a full head of hair however I am not sure any of that would apply to this year’s winner.”
I will have a few more words from Steve in minute.
The Industry Builder award recognizes someone who has made the industry better, stronger and individually has a brilliant history of success in the business.
Tonight’s honoree started in the business working summers while going to university. He started, like a lot of the people in the room have, as an apprentice, doing whatever it took. Pulling stapes out of tables, packing and unloading boxes, driving trucks. He did what needed doing to get the job done. After he graduated from Loyola University in Montreal, his management talents were recognized and after a series of promotions, end up running the company. I am told he ran it like he owned it.
During this first phase of his career our honoree was been part of some of the most high profile events in the country. He was nearby when Trudeau repatriated the constitution, he spent many Canada Days on Parliament Hill helping our nations leaders celebrate the birthday of our country, and he accommodated the needs of 2 Papal Visits. He worked on the Olympics in Montreal, orchestrating crucial elements to ensure Olympic Stadium could be used in time. He played an active role in the success of the G 7 Summit held right here at the Convention Centre.
His success drew attention and he was eventually head hunted and pursued to make a change and run one the leading business in our industry? Under his leadership this business grew to the point that it became an acquisition target. He and the company where acquired by large multinational organization out of the US. Over the years that followed, he led the company’s strategic expansion across Canada making it truly national with nine offices and hundreds of employee’s. He also saw an opportunity to diversify operations outside the scope of the existing business and add a complimentary service. A new division with its own brand was launched and it now has 5 offices of their own.
I personally heard about our honoree for years before I ever met him. The people that worked with him kept telling me how great he was to work with; how smart and fair he was.
I personally can attest to the fact that he is true gentleman with the utmost integrity and someone who knows how to draw the best out of people.
Shortly after being introduced to him, I had an early morning meeting with him at his office. We arrived at the same time and because the traffic was bad and we were running a little late. He took me to his office and and asked if I could, “give him a few minutes, there is something I need to do before we get started”. With that he was gone, but returned within 10 minutes.
That morning I was given a gentle reminder about a fundamental of this industry. All our business run because of the efforts of a lot of good people. Before he could start his day he had to take time to do his daily tour of the office and warehouse to say hello and good morning and recognize the efforts of all those good people before he started on the NEW business of the day. Recognizing the talent of others is just one of the things that make this guy stand out.
Now for the last word I would like to go back the way this all started with words from Mr. Steve Nichols.
Congratulations Mike on this well deserved award and welcome to the CAEM Hall of Fame. I am sorry Mary and I could not be here tonight to celebrate this wonderful evening with you.
Also, congratulations on your 40th year in the trade and consumer show business…..40 years and you still can’t kick out aisle carpet…just like your buddy Red Hobson with 60 years in the business and he still cant change a light bulb.
Sunny skies aways,
Ladies and Gentlemen: On his 40th Anniversary in the business, Mr. Mike Lecour, Exec VP, GES & Showtech Canada is this year’s Hall of Fame, Industry Builder winner.
Please join me in welcoming him to the stage.
Acceptance Speech by Michael Lecour:
Our job as General Service Contractors is to make others look good –
• Show organizers
So it’s very odd to be in the spotlight, so to speak.
I am honoured, flattered, and quite honestly, uncomfortable up here.
Naomi has asked me to keep my comments under 5 minutes.
Trust me – I will do my best. I want to get the 'hell' off this stage as fast as I can. Unfortunately for you folks, I have been in this industry for 42 years and I have a lot of people to thank, so please be patient with me.
Naomi was kind enough to tell me who nominated me for this unexpected honour. So I say to Steve Nichols, Tom Tonks and John Houghton – What the hell were you thinking? Or more appropriately – What the hell were you drinking? Thank you guys for this honour, and thank you for being great colleagues and friends.
Before I go any further, I want to thank my family who are almost all here tonight.
Brenda Your love, encouragement and support gave me the
confidence to tackle the challenges and opportunities in
this addictive industry. Thank you.
Kelly, Kevin and Kristin
You guys bring joy to my life every day. But the times we
all worked together at the Canadian Open Tennis
Championships are very fond and fun memories that will
be with me forever. Thank you for being great kids.
To Amber, my daughter in law and to Luke, my son in law –
You both have had direct exposure to this industry. Please
encourage Rae, Flynn and Lyle, the world’s greatest
grandkids, to experience this creative and rewarding
I want to stay focused on this table.
My boss, Paul Dykstra is here tonight for this occasion. Paul lives and works in Phoenix, but he was born in Canada – so I say, “Welcome home again!” Thank you for all your support and guidance. Thank you for allowing me to make acquisitions all across Canada. But most importantly, thank you for understanding that the Canadian show industry is different from the U.S. model. And thank you for enabling GES Canada to produce Canadian shows – the Canadian way. You are a smart leader and a great friend.
Staying with this table...
I want to thank my two wingers, Brian Eaton and Brian Blenkarn – you are my right hand and my left hand, my eyes and ears. To put it in the vernacular – you are both “50 goal scorers”...
And now we have added Gilles to our team. Your experience and integrity will be a great fit for GES.
I count on you guys every day to lead our company and make GES Canada relevant and fun. Thank you Brian, Brian and Gilles for all your advice and support.
Now I want to turn to these 2 tables and my team mates from GES and SHOWTECH.
I have been fortunate to play hockey on some championship teams at St. Mike’s and Loyola of Montreal. What I learned from those teams was:
To win – you don’t necessarily need to have the best players BUT you do have to be the BEST TEAM.
At these 2 tables, I have both the best players AND the best team.
Thank you for all your exceptional work and commitment to making our clients look good. I am extremely proud of you all – you are the best.
To my 3 great mentors:
Dennis Mills Who taught me to build the right team and you can
John Maxwell Who taught me to never settle for mediocrity – be
To my friend, Red Hobson “The Gordie Howe of our industry” –
you taught me to make work fun because it is a 24/7 vocation.
Thank you Dennis, John and Red for your time and ideas.
I am running out of time, but I am on my last thank you...
To CAEM – most CAEM members probably say the benefits of CAEM are:
• Educational activities
• Professional certification
• Networking opportunities
I value CAEM for its voice.
Let me tell you all a quick story:
In February 2006 – a rogue Ministry of Labour inspector discovered our industry. He proclaimed himself as “the new Sherriff”. Within 2 weeks he caused significant challenges and disruption to:
• The Auto Show and Tom Tonks
• PDAC and Lisa McDonald
• dmg and Duncan Payne
• The MTCC and the Direct Energy Centre
He told us he had the power to shut down our shows for Health & Safety violations. And he truly did have the power – just ask Denise Hayward.
With the support of: Arlene Campbell, Gail Bernstein, Alain Sutton, Barry Smith – in March 2006 I made a presentation to CAEM’s Board of Directors. Actually it was more of a “Call to Action”.
I encouraged them to:
• Take this risk seriously
• Create a war chest to hire professional advisors
• Develop a proactive response to this challenge of show site safety
It was a big board – 15 to 18 people, but I distinctly remember 3 board members reactions:
Julie Pyke President, showed great leadership
Anita Schachter Emphasized the seriousness of this issue
Paul Day Declared the recommendations a
By April, CAEM had raised funds from our members, created a Health & Safety Task Force, and began a proactive dialogue with Ministry of Labour Senior Management.
Shortly after – CAEM developed “The Health & Safety Best Practices for the Exposition Industry in Canada.”
Today, we have a professional and respected relationship with the Ministry of Labour and a safer workplace.
So, to CAEM: Thank you for your leadership - Thank you for being our voice!
There are so many more people that I should thank, but I am out of time, and I am sorry. All I can say is – it’s Naomi’s fault for the 5 minute rule!
Thank you again to – Tom, Steve & John
Thank you to the Awards Committee
Thank you to all of you and CAEM for making this evening a very special honour.