I always believed that if we worked hard, our company would grow and we could give back to the employees and the community. - Bill Comrie
Although Canada’s economy may have been shaky in 2003 as the political conflict between Canada and the U.S. over the Iraq war threatened economic stability, Alberta was operating at full capacity, throwing money into dozens of oil sands projects – most notably, Shell’s $5.7-billion Athabasca Oil Sands Project. The year 2003 made it official: fossil fuel production in Alberta was in full swing. The oil sands weren’t the only industry that was expanding that year. Bill Comrie, Alberta Venture’s Business Person of the Year in 2003, recalls substantial growth for his furniture enterprise, The Brick, across Canada. “I always believed that if we worked hard, our company would grow and we could give back to the employees and the community,” he says. While expansion was in progress, Comrie was preparing for his company to go public, with the initial public offering raising $272 million. To celebrate, Comrie personally delivered $7,000 in cash bonuses to his employees. The announcement was made to a room of 1,000 staff, and was live broadcast to each Brick store in Canada – one of Comrie’s favourite memories. “We had some people break down and cry. One person actually fainted. It was a very proud time for me.” Comrie has resided in California for the past 12 years, investing in large and small businesses and even purchasing a small share of the Chicago Cubs, one of his more “fun” investments. Despite being a Californian, our province still remains close to his heart. In January 2015, The Edmonton Public Schools Foundation launched the Comrie Family Learning Centre, a full-day Kindergarten classroom at Beacon Heights School. Comrie donated $500,000 to the cause. He has also recently donated substantial funds to the Stollery Children’s Hospital, MacEwan University, Comrie Sports, and co-chaired the fundraising for the Mazankowski Heart Institute.
The Year that Was 2003
Alberta’s Population 3 million
Mad cow disease is reported in Alberta, sending the $7-billion beef industry into a downturn spiral and costing Canadian cattle producers $5 billon by Nov. 29