Trevor Franklin Sellars, my business partner (and sometime fishing buddy) for 15 years, passed away yesterday. It is hard to imagine a world without him. His was a big presence — he took up space, made noise, was active, got people organized, moved ideas forward. Twenty years ago, when he was at Queen’s Printer, Margriet and I had coffee with him at the No-Pop Shop and he shared one of those big ideas with us. A few years later, having left QP, he came back and said, “Hey, remember that big idea? You want to see if we can make it work?”
Together, the three of us set about turning a graphic design shop into a full-featured advertising agency. Along the way, we built an office, acquired knowledgeable staff, learned new skills and developed relationships with new clients. Trevor’s big idea was this: what our clients had been buying from us was graphic design, but what they really needed was help with communications. It changed much about how we worked and how we enjoyed the work. And it paved the way to our final iteration as a brand communications agency.
Early in our partnership, there were those who questioned how we could partner with “a guy like Trevor.” They understood —rightly— that we were very different kinds of people, very different personalities. What they didn’t know was that we shared fundamental values about business ethics, about our families, our community, our responsibilities and our place in this corner of the world.
There are two things I will miss most about Trevor. One is that, when things were not going well, when prospects appeared to be dismal, Trevor had the uncanny ability to show me that, really, the good times were just around the bend, that we could do whatever we wanted to: we were the authors of our own successes and satisfactions. Then he’d back it up with a flurry of activity focused on addressing the issue at hand. Trevor could buck me up when I need it, like no one else could.
The other thing I’ll miss is Trevor’s annual spring trout fishing trip to Haines. For one week every April, Trevor showed me how he could be just a friend, a fishing buddy, rather than a formal business partner. He re-acquainted me with my love for fishing and provided a model for how men could spend time with men in honourable pursuit of the noble trout.
Trevor may have “…slipped the surly bonds of Earth” but his presence will not be far from me, every time I write some new communications strategy, or roam around the office, or interview new staff, or stand in the river.
Here’s to you, partner; you’ve made a difference in my life, one that will not be forgotten.
Me, Margriet and Trevor standing in our new office space under construction, 1996.