The WCBA and Bob Gaul aren’t synonymous, but Bob did help found the club, nursed it through its growing pangs and through some bad times, and is still busy plugging it and enjoying the meetings although he’s long past retirement. So his story and that of the Association come together on many points.
Bob came to Winnipeg in 1972. He’s been self-employed in life insurance for his entire working career. As such, he and his friends were involved in all the formal and informal events that go with a business career; in particular, for the purposes of our history, in leads clubs.
There were at that time three clubs: the Winnipeg Executives’ Association, the Metro Business Club, and the Commerce Club. Bob and his friends Jerry White and Frank Lewis were invited to attend a couple of meetings of the Commerce Club to see about joining up. The Club had about 90 members and alternates spread out among 69 categories. New members were selected by the potentially mortifying method of a show of hands (with candidates absent). Bob and Frank didn’t survive the vote, and, disgruntled, Frank suggested starting their own Association.
(Bob says that this was the golden era for leads clubs; there were others besides these three and the WCBA, and others started up; the Executives’ Association and the Metro Club still exist).
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So Bob and co. made up their own list of 69 categories. Their constitution was quite formal, as was the norm at the time: strict rules on attendance were perhaps the most noticeable; four consecutive meetings missed without a leave of absence – a member no longer needed leave! A potential member could attend two meetings but if s/he didn’t fit then s/he would be asked to choose another category. Things have loosened up since then but the basic goals and rules have remained in force.
The founding date was March 9, 1977. The first year of the Association was a great success: almost 90 members joined up (many dropped out as well; it was only a few months before one person left pleading pressure of business). Acquaintances had solemnly predicted that the Association wouldn’t last 18 months as there were quite enough in existence already. Mostly they were pleased to be proved wrong! The WCBA, as we now know, was destined to last more than thirty years, and with dedicated and active members has lived up to its premise and its promise.
For several reasons, Bob was the first President, and held the position until 1981, and briefly in 1991/2. Naturally he is a Past President, and has been awarded a Life Membership as befits the Founder. He has always been active in the doings of the Association, whether on the Executive or not, and has been steadfast in his principles and ways of doing business.
His business principles can be stated in a number of ways but they all come out the same way. Honesty is number one. Understanding others and giving them their due respect; sharing one’s experience and learning from others; the golden rule; firmness in dealings but with friendship withal; all apply. Successful business requires that a person benefits, but in the long run ensuring that people on the other side of the transaction also come out ahead guarantees success, while going strictly for the maximum spoils for oneself leads only to isolation and bitterness.
Bob passed away in 2007 after a traffic accident but is still seen as the prime visionary of the WCBA.
Served as WCBA president from 1977-1981 and 1991-1992.