04 October 2007

Robert C. Hicklin the Third

My first real job was as an advertising coordinator for Safeway, working out of the district office in Calgary. It was a relatively small office with about 40 people or so, everyone was very close and got along famously.

My job carried huge responsibility, I looked after weekly newspaper and radio advertising for all of southern Alberta and south eastern British Columbia as well as putting together sponsorship deals and launching national programs within the district... a pretty large responsibility and budget for a twenty one year old. My boss was located in Edmonton and when we finally met face to face (after a year of employ), I got the impression that he was expecting me to be much older.

As I said, we had a really tight group which I learned a lot from, it was a great group of people and they were all very helpful in my success back then. Because my boss was in Edmonton, Bob Hicklin, the southern Alberta District Merchandising Manager, took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. Bob was very easy going and quick with a joke, people looked forward to meetings with Bob. I learned a lot working in that office, but I learned the most from Bob Hicklin.

It's been nearly 20 years and I still remember everything I learned working under Bobby Hick. Working with Bob was such a gift. Bob treated everyone as an equal, no matter who they were. Bob's door at Safeway was always open; for staff to come in and discuss work or personal problems and for salesmen to come in and present new items. What's more is that Bob treated suppliers like partners, and worked with them closely and openly, this always impressed me and is something that I firmly believe in and practice to this day.

Bob made working fun: golf tournaments, parties, receptions, skiing, sponsorships, lunches, dinners, premiums, hockey games and Hooters and combinations of, were all part of working with him. Bob could recognize when someone was working hard and would reward them accordingly with one of the aforementioned items.

After about 2 years of working with Bob in Calgary, we were both transferred to the Edmonton Division Office for Safeway. At that time, I was the youngest person transferred with the company, breaking new ground has always driven and energized me. I was brought up to Edmonton to look after print advertising for all of Alberta, a challenge that I was ready for - what I wasn't ready for was a tenured staff that didn't want to listen to some 'kid' from Calgary. Bob helped me with this adjustment and provided me with support.

I remember when Bob announced his retirement about 8 or 9 years ago, everyone including myself was very happy for him, we continued to celebrate his announcement for months leading up to the retirement day, going for lunches, laughing, golfing and telling stories. When he finally finished working, the office was never the same. His retirement party was sold out - 360 people at $50 each (with a waiting list). Try and find another retirement party like that one!

My wife and I visited Bob and his wife Marion in their first retirement home in Celista, BC about 7 years ago. It was a beautiful home overlooking Copper Island at Shuswap Lake. We really enjoyed the visit and I remember thinking of how lucky I was to know and be friends with a great guy like Bob. We visited a few times when Bob came through Calgary the odd time, and I looked forward to getting the old gang together for a lunch and having another laugh with Bob. Bob and Marion even made a trip in to see our twins when they were born.

Bob Hicklin passed away last week. He will be missed by many.

Good bye my friend, my mentor... thanks for all you shared.


Blogger Middle Ditch said...

Wow ... A lovely tribute. Moving.

You like comedy. Well, check out middleditch.blogspot

It might cheer you up.


10/13/2007 11:15:00 AM  

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