Tait: The signs of a legacy

Blanchett and their family taken at Blanchett Neon

Hed: A sign of a family legacy

Sitting in the boardroom which once was his grandfather’s office in the 1970’s — equipped with a private bathroom, thank you very much — Daryl Blanchett uses a word starting with the little ‘l’ several times.

He’s the president of Blanchett Neon: a company that manufactures signs for businesses. So, one could conclude the word is logograph, or light, or lingam. Think again.

The word? Legacy. That’s the repeated adjective the 50-year-old Blanchett has rolling off his tongue in a relaxed 45-minute interview. And, it makes all kinds of sense: nestled on the west side of St. Albert Trail, the family-owned business recently celebrated 70 years in business.

Blanchett is the third generation of the company, first started by grandfather George, and then operated by his father.

Today, the hum of equipment comes from the production area, which utilizes the majority of the 28,000 sq. ft. operation.

A decades — all come together in the production of signs which are lit up nightly in businesses through Alberta and Saskatchewan. Some of them cross the border and head to their new home in the United States.

And it’s being recognized nationally. Last fall, Blanchett was presented with the 2017 Sign Professional of The Year at a Toronto Banquet by the Canadian Sign Association.

Such awards have deep meanings, given they are determined by peers. But what makes Blanchett’s achievement that much sweeter — he was nominated by one of his competitors.

“It was nice to get, sure,” said Blanchett, who clearly appears uncomfortable being singled out. “But I accepted it on behalf of everyone that works here. We have a great team.”

People who lead teams, generally, don’t have favourites. So, when Blanchett was asked to list a few of the signs he’s most proud of, he — again — deflects the query.

“I’m proud of every sign we make,” he said. “Some jobs may take some extra creativity and I think they become good products. But I’m proud of everything we do here.”

Even though the sign business was in his genes, Blanchett didn’t see it as a career. He took recreation. Then he founded a job as a park ranger around Thunder Lake.

But falling in love … it changes one’s life, doesn’t it? Blanchett met a young woman named Denise — now his wife — in Edmonton. Driving back and forth became an onerous task.

So he emptied his canteen and hung up his ranger hat and moved to Edmonton. Working for the family company was always an option. It was a chance, back then, to start his own legacy. So he took it and was named sales manager, and then president.

Blanchett recognizes retirement but isn’t focused on it. He wants to make sure a good succession plan is in place if his children are interested in taking things over.

“Maybe a condo in Maui in the winter,” he said with a smile and a wink of an eye. “But I’ll still be involved, somehow.”

And, so the Blanchett legacy continues.

New Tait

lancebrownA

The time has come, I think, for Lance Brown and I to get a string of those colourful patio latterns and have a chat about what comes next now. Because, frankly, we’ve never really talked about it.

That name might ring a bell. Lance grew up in Edmonton and, ironically, attended the same southside school as Nicholas, our grandson.

Lance and I were classmates in 1977 when we were both Radio and Television Arts first-year students. I still can’t decide if he was a gentleman, or a lady’s man when he was going out a north door of NAIT stood  and waited for a 2 1/2 minutes — I timed him on my wristwatch — and opened the door for three lady’s he spotted walking down the long corridor.

Lance and I became with Ken Sellar, who had Woody Woodpecker painted on his car..

Countless evenings, we’d sit on the porch of our west end townhouse, which had a welcome mat outside the front door that warmly read “Get Lost.”  See, we didn’t have any fun at all.

We’d talk until all hours of the morning, surrounded by those wonderful patio lanterns.

We were young. But we had dreams of making a small dent with our own craft in the media market. We talked about work ethic, finding a wonderful woman to marry, start a family, buying houses and how we would give everything we had, and then some, to make it happened. It’s funny, though, we never once talked about retirement.

Now, we can.

After his NAIT days, Lance got his first job in radio at a Barrhead station. Then, he went to what was then ITV and then to Regina. Lance headed back west to Vancouver before getting a phone call from a broadcast great, the late Pat Marsden, to come work for CFTO in Toronto.

After 32 years working supper hour sports, Lance will be able to have early dinners with wife Andrea: Lance has retired. His last sportscast was Dec. 22 where, as he did for many years, Lance sung his Christmas carols and cleverly re-wrote the lyrics to tell sports stories.  But he was a big part of the community, hosting a golf tournament for Big Brothers, mentioned names of children in Toronto hospitals in his sportscast and leading a team of volunteers to build backdoor rinks for families who need a little hand up. The construction crew has been building rinks for the past 17 years.

“I need to do more for people,” he told me a few years ago.

It’s been a joy for me to sit back, from afar, and watch a friend from almost four decades ago, chase his career. He would probably smack be the side on the side of the — wouldn’t be the first time — when I tell you he was voted best sportscaster in a Toronto Sun poll a few months ago.

He used humour. He asked tough questions, too. And at the end of a sportscast  you were informed. But also entertained.

The media landscape is changing all the time. Lance’s retirement is a signal that the supper hour television sportscast has  faded to  black.

But my buddy should be proud of everything he has done.

So, we need a chat to look ahead into  retirement around the patio lanterns. Ken and I will have to buy them, I suppose, since we’re still working.

(Please visit camtait.blog to watch Lance’s singing and rink build)

 

Tait column

Art of KEN SHAW and Lance Brown at CTV Toronto

 

The time has come, I think, for Lance Brown and I to get a string of those colourful patio latterns and have a chat about what comes next now. Because, frankly, we’ve never really talked about it.

That name might ring a bell. Lance grew up in Edmonton and, ironically, attended the same southside school as Nicholas, our grandson.

Lance and I were classmates in 1977 when we were both Radio and Television Arts first-year students. I still can’t decide if he was a gentleman, or a lady’s man when he was going out a north door of NAIT stood  and waited for a 2 1/2 minutes — I timed him on my wristwatch — and opened the door for three lady’s he spotted walking down the long corridor.

Lance and I became with Ken Sellar, who had Woody Woodpecker painted on his car..

Countless evenings, we’d sit on the porch of our west end townhouse, which had a welcome mat outside the front door that warmly read “Get Lost.”  See, we didn’t have any fun at all.

We’d talk until all hours of the morning, surrounded by those wonderful patio lanterns.

We were young. But we had dreams of making a small dent with our own craft in the media market. We talked about work ethic, finding a wonderful woman to marry, start a family, buying houses and how we would give everything we had, and then some, to make it happened. It’s funny, though, we never once talked about retirement.

Now, we can.

After his NAIT days, Lance got his first job in radio at a Barrhead station. Then, he went to what was then ITV and then to Regina. Lance headed back west to Vancouver before getting a phone call from a broadcast great, the late Pat Marsden, to come work for CFTO in Toronto.

After 32 years working supper hour sports, Lance will be able to have early dinners with wife Andrea: Lance has retired. His last sportscast was Dec. 22 where, as he did for many years, Lance sung his Christmas carols and cleverly re-wrote the lyrics to tell sports stories.  But he was a big part of the community, hosting a golf tournament for Big Brothers, mentioned names of children in Toronto hospitals in his sportscast and leading a team of volunteers to build backdoor rinks for families who need a little hand up. The construction crew has been building rinks for the past 17 years.

“I need to do more for people,” he told me a few years ago.

It’s been a joy for me to sit back, from afar, and watch a friend from almost four decades ago, chase his career. He would probably smack be the side on the side of the — wouldn’t be the first time — when I tell you he was voted best sportscaster in a Toronto Sun poll a few months ago.

He used humour. He asked tough questions, too. And at the end of a sportscast  you were informed. But also entertained.

The media landscape is changing all the time. Lance’s retirement is a signal that the supper hour television sportscast has  faded to  black.

But my buddy should be proud of everything he has done.

So, we need a chat to look ahead into  retirement around the patio lanterns. Ken and I will have to buy them, I suppose, since we’re still working.

(Please visit camtait.blog to watch Lance’s singing and rink build)