By Harry Ethans

At Price Industries’ headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Gerry Price is surrounded by dozens of invitees, including members of the business elite, influential community supporters, and his team of business leaders, some of whom have traveled from other provinces and from the US.

The Bankers’ Orientation is Gerry’s annual “state of the union” presentation, which showcases how Price Industries will achieve and maintain its ambitious growth trajectory. The event was launched in 1987 as an in-person checkpoint to keep financial institutions, key suppliers, and customers informed as Price relied heavily on their support during those heady US-expansion days. Just like the thousands of others who have seen Gerry speak passionately at this event over the decades, my first Bankers’ Orientation in spring 2002 anchored my admirable first impression of him.

Over the past 20 years, that impression of Gerry has never wavered as he has consistently lived his life the Price Way. I have enjoyed a personal and professional relationship with him, earning Foreword Harry Ethans 2 I’M JUST GERRY his trust as an inner-circle business advisor and becoming a longtime friend. As I was getting to know Gerry, I was coming out of a long-term business relationship with Israel “Izzy” Asper—a made-in-Manitoba media mogul—where I was fortunate enough to have a front-row seat and an opportunity to participate in some of the most exciting and game-changing transactions in the broadcasting and print industries.

Izzy had a dream to build the third national television network in Canada and to create a far-flung global media empire. No one thought it could be done from a prairie outpost, but just like Gerry, Izzy and the CanWest team proved the naysayers wrong. At his Bankers’ Orientations, Gerry has always shared in intricate detail his growth plans for Price Industries, so it is no surprise to me that you are reading I’m Just Gerry today. It is the natural next step in the evolution of Gerry’s journey—one that serves to educate, inform, and inspire employees and external stakeholders in Price Industries’ pursuit of building a legacy organization.

So committed is Gerry to sharing his journey for the benefit of others that he has drafted a comprehensive afterword for I’m Just Gerry. As only Gerry can deliver, the afterword is a meticulous timeline narrative that complements the preceding manuscript. Both components of the book will tantalize the reader’s imagination and satisfy the fact finder’s curiosity to know exactly how Gerry did what by when. More personally, I’m Just Gerry aligns instinctively with Gerry, an educator at heart.

He is genuinely keen about people learning—specifically learning by doing—and I’m Just Gerry is 3 FOREWARD demonstrable proof of how the Price Way can be an invaluable resource, vividly detailing the highs and the lows of the history of the growth of Price Industries, most notably the US-expansion years in the early 1990s. I commend him for sharing his story, both at my first Bankers’ Orientation and now with I’m Just Gerry. I relate intimately to Gerry’s learn-by-doing approach, and I have every confidence that readers will too. It was how I was taught corporate development and finance techniques during my formative years with Izzy and his business partner, Gerald W. Schwartz. I worked with Izzy for close to 20 years in various senior capacities as CanWest Global grew to become an international media conglomerate with outlets around the world.

I never thought I would become capable of leading major corporate transactions, acquisitions, and mergers. I learned by watching, participating and, at times, making mistakes. The critical components of my development were taking responsibility and learning from any missteps. Consistent with Gerry’s leadership style, he does not harshly criticize his team when errors or mistakes inevitably take place. In fact, he is the first person to congratulate someone for taking ownership of a presenting problem and recommending a solution. These solutions often benefit the customer at Price’s expense, which at first blush seems counterintuitive.

However, this unselfish and right-minded approach pays enormous dividends in the long run. As documented throughout I’m Just Gerry, Gerry would rather have leaders understand what went wrong, take steps to ensure the misstep does not happen again, learn how to become better from the experience, and then get back behind the wheel. 4 I’M JUST GERRY For Gerry, growing a business is an iterative process. If you’re designing new products, or you’re coming up with a different theme or concept, don’t wait until you’ve got the perfect product—get a prototype, test it in the lab, and make sure it is working properly. Tweak it if you have to, produce it, and get it out.

There’s going to be a version two and a version three, and a version seven. But if you sit on it, it is never going to get out to market. Most companies do not possess the resilience and grit to wait out the costly and time-consuming process that is necessary to innovate and break into new markets. More importantly, Price Industries pays close attention to the marketplace acceptance of new-product introductions and heeds the comments and advice provided by its most trusted sales representatives to refine the devices as required. What also sets Gerry apart from most accomplished business leaders is his commitment to transparency in communicating the immense value of service.

At that impressionable first Bankers’ Orientation, I was incredulous as I watched him stand up in front of his current funders, prospective bankers, accountants, and members of the business community to not only tell his story with a historical perspective, but wax poetic on bold prognostications. I was taken aback by Gerry’s open and frank approach. My corporate training was to be far less candid and much more circumspect when providing forward-looking predictions of a financial nature, especially in a quasi-public setting.

But there he was, unwavering in his vision, expounding how Price Industries was going to achieve such lofty goals, including offering up revenue forecasts and competitive positioning strategies. I thought it was refreshing, albeit a little bit risky; it could backfire if his projections were not substantially 5 FOREWARD realized. In that moment, I was struck by how unique a leader Gerry was; confident and self-assured, but certainly not brash or arrogant. He did not oversell, but simply extrapolated how he saw things and the path it would take to get there.

Most companies, especially publicly traded companies, are driven by quarterly earnings. Those companies may have a mission and vision statement, professed values and principles, and even tenets of their own—all that speak to wanting to produce great products and services and do the right thing for their customers. But at the end of the day, many of those companies will be forced to focus on short-term results in order to satisfy market expectations and those of their stakeholders. That is not the case with Gerry. His life’s work is to be of service to others, not just to his customers, but to his employees and to the people in the communities where Price Industries does business. It’s going above and beyond, treating people the way he would want to be treated—the Golden Rule. It has always been purpose over profits for Gerry—being of service above all else.