The staff of the Southwest Booster was both humbled and excited to learn this past Thursday that the Booster will be formally inducted into the Swift Current Business Excellence Hall of Fame during the SCBEX Awards on October 23.
The news was delivered during a surprise visit from Swift Current and District Chamber of Commerce CEO Karla Wiens.
“Our Board of Directors, it was overwhelmingly agreed to recognize the Southwest Booster for all of the things that you are doing and you have done over multiple years for our entire community,” Wiens said during the surprise announcement on September 17.
“They have been a wonderful partner throughout the years – not just for the Chamber but for the rest of our entire community,” she said following the presentation.
The Southwest Booster will now join an elite list of 22 businesses to receive the award in the 15 year history of the SCBEX Business Hall of Fame.
Now in our 51st year of operation, the first edition of the Southwest Booster was dated May 8, 1969. The business has seen many changes over the past five decades within the print industry. The Booster was the first newspaper in the province to purchase a computerized typesetter to enhance the printing process, and they eventually acquired their own offset press to be able to speed up the process of producing the paper.
During a period of growth through the 80s and 90s, Swift Litho-Printing acquired the Swift Current Sun in January 1997 and brought it into the fold as The City Sun. The merger of the two papers gives the Booster a newspaper legacy which dates back to the 1910s.
Bill Mann, who worked at the Booster for 35 years and was owner of the business for close to two decades, was excited to hear of the recognition. He has numerous positive memories of the business during its formative years.
“I always enjoyed my people. To me, they didn’t work for me, we worked together. I would take my tie off and I’d be in the press room if I had to. I wouldn’t ask somebody else to do something I couldn’t do. And I think that rubbed off. Everybody worked hard.”
“My theory was, if you don’t enjoy going to work you won’t enjoy working. So I didn’t find it as a job, I loved it. It was just a part of my life. I just felt if you lead by example it will pay off,” he said. “It was really enjoyable. I was at work every day by 5 a.m. I loved it. I loved the people. We had great staff.”
Mann sat on the Chamber board for 14 years and served for two years as the board president. He believed this was part of the importance of giving back to the community in which you do business.
“I think when you’re in business you have to give back. So I was involved. I was on the Bronco Board for 13 years. Then I was in Kinsmen and Kiwanis, and I was on the board for the Southwest Abilities Centre when we build that new facility.”
Being born and raised in Swift Current he stressed the importance for leaders in the business community to give back to the community.
“I think being involved in the community really benefits your business,” he added. “If you show people that you are doing other things in the community then they’ll say let’s support him. And I really believed that with my people too. We all work together and lets support the people who advertise in our paper or buy the printing from us because that’s what pays our wages and bills.”
He noted the Booster took a big step forward when they added the staff of the Swift Current Sun in 1997.
“When the Sun staff came on board I mean it just got better because then the paper turned into a real newspaper because now you had a Sports Section.”
Mann also remains a big advocate of the power of print media.
“Paper, you can set it down and pick it up, set it down and pick it up again. If you didn’t hear it on the radio or if you didn’t see it on TV, it’s gone. So you have to spend way more money on those media than you would in the newspaper.”
“And in the newspaper, how many people see that newspaper. How many people in each household see it. So I think it’s a better product for retention value. It is retained in the household a lot longer. Where if you’re always listening on the radio, it’s in then it’s out. Then it’s gone.”