Jim Pattison

Class of 2004

  • Founder/Owner The Jim Pattison Group

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.

Jim Pattison was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1928. His parents were Americans whose families moved to Canada around the turn of the century to homestead. In those days, the Canadian government gave farms to homesteaders who worked the land for 10 years. During the Great Depression, Pattison's father, who was then a partner in a car dealership in Luseland, lost everything financially. The family was forced to move to Vancouver, where Pattison's father earned a living going door to door repairing pianos for $2. Pattison accompanied his father on his service calls to help him, and his mother home schooled him in the evenings. They were living in a rented, furnished, attic room for $2 a month.

When Pattison was six, his family settled permanently in Vancouver, where his father sold used cars. An enterprising youth, Pattison began working on his own, first by selling garden seeds and then subscriptions to the Saturday Evening Post and Ladies Home Journal. Later, he became a swamper, the person who throws papers off the truck to the newsies. He also worked as a page boy in a hotel. When he was old enough to drive, he became a truck driver for the late edition newspapers.

Pattison worked his way through the University of British Columbia. As a freshman, he worked as a pantryman on a railroad dining car. After that, he worked for a dealership washing used cars. He began refurbishing used cars and selling them for $150 each to students, making up to a $50 profit. When he was nine units short of graduation, Pattison left school to work full time managing a used car dealership.

His employer bought a GM dealership and took Pattison with him to manage the used car side of the business. He worked his way up to new car manager, and then became general manager of the dealership, making $6,000 a year. A customer came in one day and told Pattison he needed someone to manage his pots and pans business, guaranteeing him $50,000 a year. Pattison loved the car business, but felt he couldn't turn down that much money. "