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One for the record books

Posted by: Diane Brady on February 15, 2008

Vancouver billionaire Jim Pattison has just bought Guinness World Records from HIT Entertainment. Most people haven’t heard of Pattison, but they would recognize his holdings. Along with TV stations and car dealerships, the man owns Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, which runs a chain of museums/”odditoriums” and owns the world’s largest collection of shrunken heads. His company has sales in the $6.3 billion range and a staff of roughly 29,000 employees.

So who is Pattison? Despite his love of publicity-seeking record breakers, the 79-year-old entrepreneur doesn’t seek the spotlight much himself. The company is private (few public ones would list their “yacht captain” on the executive team). The last time he was in the news was because of a bitter proxy fight at troubled lumber company Canfor, where he’s a director and major shareholder.

According to a biography from when he won the “Order of British Columbia”, Pattison got his start selling garden seeds at the age of 12. Then he took to flipping used cars to fellow students at the University of British Columbia. But the real cash came when he got a share in his first GM dealership. In Vancouver, at least, his name recognition soared when he ran Expo ‘86.

Perhaps most tellingly, there’s allegedly a sign on his office wall that reads: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.” Or, perhaps, who gets their name in the record books.



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