FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Jarett Thompson
February 14, 2017
So often it is easy to interview CEO’s – see their viewpoint, appreciate their wisdom, but sometimes there is equal value in getting to know the younger ones, the ‘CEOs of tomorrow’ types … case in point, Jarett Thompson. Eclectic background – young but settled, ambitiously confident, rising star but not star struck …
It might look like he had a head start – but it seems to me like he earned his own ‘head start’. For example, while earning his Bachelor of Commerce degree at University of Alberta, he was on a team project – to study a public company, analyze it and write a report. What might have seemed like ‘just another case study’ was a ‘financial statement analysis of a public company' project – they just had to pick a company. Jarett chose Melcor and then got his three classmates to agree. He called up then CEO Ralph Young – got information, help and guidance and was invited to meet to present and discuss his team’s report. That interest and help, with that request to see the finished report – also produced a ‘ticket’ to attend a fundraising event as Ralph’s guest for which Jarett had to borrow an ill-fitting suit from his brother’s friend and some shoes … which meeting (and the quality of the report too I expect) led to a job offer which he accepted. “And my first pay-cheques went to acquire a wardrobe …”. That first job as ‘Financial Analyst’ meant a desk “within spitting distance of Ralph and Chairman Tim Melton”, which isn’t a bad place to start.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Born and raised in Edmonton, one sibling – an older brother, mom was a registered nurse (now retired), dad an engineer (still consulting). Jarett graduated from Jasper Place High (strong academically and hockey-driven, was Bantam AAA, played Midget …), then off to University of Alberta in the science faculty (he wanted to be an oral surgeon – but reality set in and he switched to commerce) where he obtained his B.Com. degree.
Summer jobs during high school and university days with Twin-City Excavating acquainted him with construction and his ‘learned it over the breakfast table work-ethic' from his parents prepared him well for hard work. His parents, as young unemployed graduates, had left their New Brunswick home – drove to Alberta and found opportunity, struggled, worked hard and found success - no doubt instilled that in their son.
From that first job – several title bumps and growing responsibilities through the commercial development side of the Melcor portfolio; fast-forward to moving to Calgary and a promotion, to beef up Melcor’s development presence here as Vice President, New Leasing and Sales, with heavy involvement in The District as well as other Melcor activities in the Calgary region.
He describes his lifestyle/marital status as “single, but occupied, live in the Beltline”.
Why are you successful? “Hard work. Doing what you say you are going to do. Accountability. I’ve been around some very successful people and learned good habits.”
What has held you back? “Time – there is never enough – is my biggest issue. I’m still learning … lots.”
At first I thought him a bit shy – but as we talked over a lunch recently I found what I was seeing was more ‘confident restrained modesty’ than reluctance. He’s ‘early days’ of what looks like a strong team player, well launched on a very promising career. His bio is short – but he’s so young! He’s not the new kid in town anymore, but I think we should be looking for big things from this young man.
How do you see your business – commercial real estate acquisition and development – going forward over the next quarter?
… retail remains largely unaffected by the downturn. The office market is tough – but there are deals to be had … for example, we’ve just done deal for a 161,000 sq. ft. deal in The District - Remington are developing the facility for Novatel to bring all their folks under one roof.
And over the next five years?
… taxes and the state of Alberta’s financial situation are a big concern. We see tight control, and adequacy of supply concerns, for commercial land in Calgary. In terms of retail development we see shifts to better meet retailer needs for smaller footprints, and for shopping centers to be more about ‘customer experience’ than just a destination.
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… my first lens is value. I want to see past the ‘fancy’ to see the product, the value. Competence and attitude.
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Jarett Thompson, and why do they do business with you, why have they hired you, over your competitors?
... integrity, hard work. I’m loyal. I have a good foundation for building relationships.
How would you describe your leadership/management style?
… I don’t have a lot of people reporting directly to me. I like to think I’m accessible and open, but at the same time I’m pretty much ‘hands on’. I believe in leading by example and letting people run with things …
… no, but making a conscious effort …
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… day-to-day, the challenges on the development approval process, regulation etc. – but on a larger scale, our society generally – governments, and an ‘entitled’ society in which I don’t think we are setting kids up for success.
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… Ralph Young has been a fabulous mentor. My mom and dad taught me hard work and focus. John Leavitt – my hockey coach. Bruce Otto at Twin-City shaped my interest and understanding of business. Getting cut from the team – playing hockey, for The Brick Novice tournament, I was one of the last three players who didn’t make the cut. That was a very pivotal ‘buckle down’ and accept reality time …
… hockey (fun league), golf, hunting and fishing – my dad was avid and took us a lot, hiking. Travel – have been to Japan, Scotland and Mexico.
What do you read?
… business books mostly, right now - Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son by George Lorimer.
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