November 4, 2009

Over the past two years, I have said goodbye to four good friends – three of whom were colleagues of mine during my career at Carlson Marketing Group.

Today, after some years of suffering through a corporate terminal illness, CMG itself ceased to exist as it was sold to Groupe Aeroplan.

For all those who led the way in the early days as the company morphed from the original Gold Bond Stamp Company to PIC to Carlson Marketing and Motivation, plus a small fledgling collection of Radisson Hotels, I am sure this could not have been foreseen.

For me and perhaps many others that joined the team as part of the second generation that under the leadership of Skip Gage and Jim Pfleider, grew the company from $20 million to almost $1 billion in 15 years, this is a sad time – as we face the reality that all those efforts seem to have been for naught.

Perhaps there is solice in the fact that our efforts helped fund the purchase of Ask Mr. Foster and First Tours (forerunner of CWT) as well as provided the profits that funded the growth of Radisson Hotels into Carlson Hospitality.

And for those who came after us, they became the ultimate sacrifice as they were spun off for $175 million to provide capital to shore up their sister companies.

“Carlson Companies CEO Hubert Joly said selling Carlson Marketing is a positive move because it frees up resources that will help Carlson Companies continue to evolve as a major hospitality and travel company.”

We can only hope this last infusion will be sufficient to finally do the trick. Meanwhile, my best wishes to the current generation as you move forward into your next life. Glad you will still be here in Minnesota – at least for now.

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