The shiny penny and the hottest thing on the block tend to garner the headlines of the day. The real news is between the lines, and viewed through the lens of some longer tenured businesses. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, just ask my wife about my obsession with a certain rock band with roots in the 1970’s. Having always appreciated those leaders with demonstrated experience, I’ll share some perspective on past and present.
The Around the Bay Road Race, an institution in town, is a clinical display of how to treat more than 10,000 customers in an efficient way. The onslaught of runners who blanket Hamilton city streets for one day each March are carefully corralled through registration processes, kit pick up, race staging – including safely navigating the course with the help of a throng of volunteers at intersections and key road crossings and a finish line worthy of any of the top running events on the continent. For more than 120 years competitors, spectators and fans have participated in the spectacle that takes over the city for a day. Smiles are everywhere and unsatisfied customers difficult to find.
At home in a little slice of Italy on James Street South, the venerable La Piazza Allegra Restaurant approaches their 17th anniversary with the same enthusiasm that drove Executive Chef and Owner Mark Farrugia to open the doors in 1997. Joking “who opens an Italian restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day?!”, Farrugia fondly recalls the early days, but more importantly cements a commitment to a downtown establishment long before the current wave of growth and optimism. The menu and decor have evolved, so to has the advancement of a take out lunch counter, cooking class & special event schedule, and a catering arm. All with the same attention to detail customers have come to experience.
At Main Cycle in the east end, the bicycle shop of old continues to stake its’ reputation on good service, accessibility to parts and expert advice and represents a line of bikes desired for all skill levels and aspirations of those that will ride them. I needed a simple $40 tire and when one wasn’t in stock, they removed it from a bike on display for me, simply saying they’d order another in to replace this one that I now possessed.
I’m not taking anything away from the tremendous momentum being generated by new business, development or the unbridled enthusiasm for a city on the move. What I am suggesting is that the focus should be balanced with a weight shift to recognize those that have come before, blazed a trail and continue to lead the next phase of our amazing city. Those leaders that have been and done, have gained insight and wisdom and been unwavering in their commitment to Hamilton. Go visit these places; they’ve earned the chance to continue to win new customers.
– Brent Kinnaird – Marketing Manager, McKeil Marine
Business Administration ’94
Follow Brent @brentkinnaird