Jimmy Pattison has spent the past 50 years building a multibillion-dollar empire—and continues to build at the age of 83.
Pattison opened his first business, a Pontiac/Buick dealership in Vancouver, in 1961 with a $40,000 bank loan. After generating $2 million in sales in his first year, Pattison soon began diversifying, launching or acquiring everything from radio stations to grocery stores.
Today, the Jim Pattison Group is the country's third-largest privately held company. With divisions in illuminated outdoor signs, media, automotive, packaging and more, the company employs 33,000; its sales are more than $7.2 billion.
Still, Pattison is as hungry as ever. In January, 50 years after starting in the car business, he finally expanded in that sector beyond B.C.'s borders by acquiring two auto dealerships in Winnipeg.
When it comes to spotting business opportunities, Pattison warns against simply jumping on the next big thing. "Looking for the hottest opportunity is fine, but you have to make sure you're suited to that business," he once told PROFIT. "Figure out what you're good at, then pick a business in a field that uses your skills and talents."
Read other entrepreneurial success stories in "The Fabulous 30."