mardi 9 juin 2009

The rock of Frank Stronach

Frank Stronach is now one of the richest men in the world but his history began humbly in Montreal as a young immigrant.
I know Frank Stronach (76 years) for having met him when I was in Ottawa in 1984 after the election of Brian Mulroney. Stronach just turned 50 at the time and already his auto parts company Magna was growing rapidly.
The dinner that we had together is still engraved in my memory. He told me: "I came to Canada in 1954 without any possession. At first I worked at any small jobs and I even picked up golf ball north of Montreal. In fact, I almost picked up because I never found the location of the golf course... I left for Toronto and opened a mechanic shop with a partner. We were two young people with a tool box. We worked without rest and we even slept in the garage to save paying a rent.
At one point, I realized that this was not a life. One Sunday afternoon, I sat on a large rock and I thought: What do I want to do with my life? Repairing old cars in exchange for few dollars or live a life with a beautiful home and a family? There on this rock, I realized that if I wanted to realize my dreams, I would be capable. For me it all started on that rock ... "
This story, told with an Austrian accent, was very captivating. I hangs on to it with interest. Stronach knows how to communicate and his eyes are very bright.
The man was very successful but also have many failures in business as in politics. For one, he could never be elected MP when he dreamed of becoming Prime Minister (1988). His project of luxury magazine VISTA (1989) did not work neither the election of his daughter to the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada (2004). I would say he has experienced as many failures as successes but the conclusion is that the gains outweigh the losses. As he repeats often: "We must enjoy our successes, forget the failures and keep moving ... "
I met Frank and his daughter Belinda a few times over the years after the dinner of 1984. I was also a supporter of Belinda when she was candidate for the leadership of Conservative Party, a position that she lost to Stephen Harper.
In the case of Frank, he makes me think of Richard Branson, Paul Desmarais or Guy Laliberté. These are leaders who occupy the room when they enter one as their "aura" is very strong. They are also very lucky because they all have been as close to failure as to success. Their destiny was a success but they could have lost everything. For example, just look at the fate of another major character who resembled to them in terms of charisma but who has lost everything: Robert Campeau from Ottawa.
Frank Stronach has now left Canada to return to his home country Austria. He recently made the news media with its proposal to buy the German automobile company OPEL. Medias also speak of its proposed electric car, a pioneer in the field.
We will wait and see for the next part of his life story but Frank has shown up until now that he can be convincing to Lady Luck to be his friend!
Picture 2: Frank Stronach in his mechanic shop (circa 1960)
Picture 3: Belinda and his father Frank Stronach (May 2008)
Picture 4: Frank Stronack in New York

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